Snapshot of TAFE student survey results

24 June 2014


The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment’s TAFE student survey was established to encourage participation into the committee’s TAFE inquiry by those who have experienced TAFE first-hand, or are considering TAFE as an option.

The survey has been online since early May and has received in excess of 3600 responses so far. Some interesting statistics from the survey have surfaced such as:

  • 38.25% of respondents are over 50
  • 65.76% of respondents are female
  • 11.15% of respondents have a disability that affects work and/or study options
  • Over 45% of respondents have completed a tertiary qualification
  • At 42.36% Business Administration, Information Communications & Technology are the most studied fields
  • 64.52% of respondents indicate that the main purpose for their study was as a pathway for employment, whereas 18.89% indicate that their main purpose was as a pathway for further education.

The survey asks respondents to rate how they feel a TAFE qualification is valued in the workplace, the quality of the teaching at TAFE, and their satisfaction with TAFE resources. Results indicate an average of 80% or above satisfaction rating for all three questions.

The survey closes on 31 July 2014.



ACPET National Monday Update | #559 | 23 June 2014


In Focus

USI Bill passes and Assistant Minister Sussan Ley to also address National Skills Summit Edition 559, 23 Jun

The final program will be issued tomorrow but in the meantime we’ve re-jigged the ballroom set-up at the Realm Hotel to squeeze another 16 seats in – so if you want to be there – register now.

Student Identifiers Bill 2014 – the introduction of the USI

In other news last week, members should be aware that the Student Identifiers Bill 2014 has passed, allowing for the introduction of the Unique Student Identifier from 1 January 2015. The legislation is supported by ACPET as it will ensure students have ready access to a permanent record of their learning, governments can manage eligibility for government funded places, and we will all have a better understanding of how learners move through pathways within and across the VET sector…. Read more


Vale Steve Pasfield Edition 559, 23 Jun

ACPET members, particularly those in NSW and Western Australia, will be as deeply saddened as members of the ACPET Board and I were to hear the news that Steve Pasfield was tragically killed when a car hit his motorbike from behind in a traffic accident on Friday. Steve joined the ACPET Board in 20… Read more


Want to know more about ACPET’s Quality Support Team services? Edition 559, 23 Jun

From 1 July, ACPET is introducing its newest member exclusive support services, made up of: a Quality Help Desk a broader range of health check services on-site support. Want to hear more? Register for ACPET’s complementary webinar on Thursday, 26 June, 4.30pm – 5.15pm (EST) or email Mar… Read more

ACPET’s LLN Capable project – working towards our VET sector show case: National Job Link Edition 559, 23 Jun

On 14 – 15 August, participants of ACPET’s current RTO LLN Capable project will be showcasing their LLN product, developed as part of this project. One of the participants is National Job Link, based in Cairns, who decided to develop and trial a LL&N student indicator tool. As part of the p… Read more

Introducing Patricia Bailey Edition 559, 23 Jun

Patricia Bailey (Trish) has commenced today in the role of National Administration and Member Support Officer. Trish has extensive experience in customer service, having worked for a large barrister firm in Melbourne for over 25 years. Trish will be supporting the implementation of our national PD p… Read more

Social media tools for training: Youtube and Flickr Edition 559, 23 Jun

So you know about YouTube and Flickr and best of all, they are free! Did you know that both tools offer exciting opportunities for distributing learning content? YouTube is a powerful free tool for businesses to engage an audience with online video and Flickr is a social media site for sharing imag… Read more

Export Market Development Grants – what’s available and how do you get it? Edition 559, 23 Jun

The Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) program can provide up to $150,000 per year to support your institution’s export marketing activities. If you’re not claiming what you’re entitled to or maximising your claims, you’re at a competitive disadvantage and restricting yo… Read more

Educational Brokers – the good, the bad and the ugly Edition 559, 23 Jun

Education agents and educational brokers can provide an effective marketing solution, particularly to small providers, however, there’s an old saying that “brokers can send you broke”. If your RTO is thinking of using a broker to attract domestic students – what questions sh… Read more

Digital e-learning tools: what’s out there? Edition 559, 23 Jun

What’s out there in the e-learning space? Do you know what gamification, flipped classroom and augmented reality means? How easy are they to incorporate into my institution? In this session we will look at essential software, tools and approaches to implement a contemporary approach to… Read more

Green Gown Awards open to all providers until 5 August Edition 559, 23 Jun

Apply now for the Green Gown Awards, open to ALL education and training providers in both VET and Higher Education regardless of size or type. New for this year is a category called – Best Newcomer, which is aimed at those on the start of their sustainability journey or those that have not c… Read more

More updates in your state

The UWS Academy

UWS News Centre  |    26 February 2014


The  University of Western Sydney has created The Academy, an interdisciplinary, community-engaged program which it describes as the first of its kind across the higher education sector. …………………………………………………………………………………………………


While undertaking their advanced academic studies, students in The Academy also participate in programs focused on civic engagement and citizenship – professional and personal development opportunities, volunteering projects, and mentoring and leadership programs which aim to create a well-rounded graduate who can meet the challenges of an increasingly complex and globalised world.

The program is being spearheaded by 2012 Prime Minister’s University Teacher of the Year Award winner Professor James Arvanitakis, who is Head of The Academy.

Arvanitakis says The Academy is built on three key objectives: preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow; building an understanding of ethical leadership; and taking an inter-disciplinary approach to life’s challenges, to ensure students do not think in silos.

We live in a fast paced and constantly evolving world where many current professions did not exist a few years ago. The only way to confront these challenges is by teaching skills and knowledge that are relevant not just today, but 10 – 20 years into the future.

ACER higher education update

28 February 2014

ACER higher-ed-banner-640_1

The first edition of ACER’s Higher Education Update for 2014 examines the impact of financial support on student decisions to defer, as well as what ATARs and attrition rates tell us about the relationship between growth and quality in higher education. We also explore whether Australia’s medical school admissions tools can or should predict the course performance of students.For more information on ACER’s higher education research please visit


The impact of financial support on university deferral


While there has been a substantial decline in the proportion of university deferrals in Victoria since student financial support has been increased, location and socioeconomic status continue to play a role in restricting access to higher education.


Predicting success in medical studies

Daniel Edwards discusses the findings of a multi-institution investigation of the ability of Australia’s medical school admissions processes to predict future achievement levels.


Growth and ‘quality’ in higher education

Strong growth in university enrolments may not necessarily be affecting quality, according to analysis by Daniel Edwards and Ali Radloff.

In other news

Creating an engaged student experience

International experience shows that, by putting in place the right conditions, institutions can improve student engagement.

Grey literature in Australian education
Gerald White discusses the need to better organise the proliferation of non-commercially published reports and documents of particular importance in the area of public policy.

More news


The Scan

1 March 2014


Job cuts at La Trobe

La-Trobe_Logo_x228 February 2014 | La Trobe University has confirmed it is cutting 350 jobs as part of a restructure. University management told staff at a meeting this afternoon. It is understood the redundancies are compulsory, and will affect the university’s Bundoora campus in Melbourne’s north west as well as its regional Victorian campuses….[ MORE ]….

TEQSA shake upcut red tape

28 February 2014 | The government has introduced a bill to radically restructure the national higher education regulatory agency.The bill provides for a spill of the positions of the five commissioners who run the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency TEQSA. The position of chief commissioner and chief executive, held by Carol Nicoll, will be split in two and Nicoll’s position as chief commissioner terminated 21 days after the law coming into effect. The other 4 commissioner positions will terminate in three months, during which time the positions will be advertised….[ MORE ]….

Big six dominate

QS226 February 2014 | Melbourne was Australia’s best performing university in the QS World University Ranking by Subject being placed first nationally in 12 of the 30 disciplines. Melbourne was particularly strong in education, science, maths and technology subjects, ranking first nationally in eight of the 16 subject areas. Conversely, the Australian National University, dominated in the arts and humanities, ranking first nationally and in the top 20 globally in five of the six subject areas. But the dominance of Melbourne and ANU, along with Sydney, Monash, the University of Queensland and the University of NSW, left little room for other institutions that excel in their fields….[ MORE ]….

Giddy quitsAndy Giddy

26 February 2014 | Just weeks after the launch of NMIT’s joint venture Melbourne Polytechnic at the former Prahran campus of Swinburne, NMIT CEO Andrew (Andy) Giddy has suddenly resigned. There’s speculation that NMIT is in a parlous financial situation due to polytechnic project and declining enrolments. A media statement from NMIT merely confirms that Giddy and NMIT have parted ways….[ MORE ]….

RMIT dumps the TAFE brand

RMIT24 February 2014 | RMIT vice-chancellor Margaret Gardner has announced that RMIT is availing itself of recent changes in Victorian government legislation to dump its standing as an institute of technical and further education – a public TAFE. It will continue to provide vocational education, linked to its aim to be a “a global university of technology and design”….[ MORE ]….

Hall to retire<a href=””>peter-hall-6288497

24 February 2014 | After more than a quarter of a century in parliament as Nationals MLC for Eastern Victoria , Victorian skills and higher education minister Peter Hall is to call it quits and won’t contest the next state election, at the end of November…..[ MORE ]….

Melbourne Polytechnic launched

Melb Poly320 February 2014 | Melbourne Polytechnic, a new educational institution operated by Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT), has opened at the former Prahran campus of Swinburne University in Melbourne. It currently has around 80 programs on offer ranging from vocational certificates, diplomas and advanced diplomas and a growing selection of higher education programs ….[ MORE ]….

Teacher education needs a “lick of paint” – CravenLick of paint

20 February 2014 | Minister for education Christopher Pyne has appointed Australian Catholic University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Greg Craven, to chair an eight-member Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group. Reporting later this year, the group will undertake extensive public and stakeholder consultation focusing on three key areas: pedagogical approaches; subject content; and professional experience ….[ MORE ]….


24 February 2014

Turning back the news when it’s safe to do so


The inimitable Clarke and Dawe on the growing assault on the ABC


Day after day, The Australian leads the assault, with its editorial pen dipped in vitriol and its reporting none too balanced. It doesn’t think much of vice-chancellors and universities either, as shown in this recent editorial (National broadcaster has lost the plot and prestige). Of course The Australian isn’t disinterested: references to “spread to thin” and “multiple platforms, across the vast terrestrial plain and in the digital ether” is code for the ABC should get out of its 24 TV news service, which competes head-on with Sky News, of which The Australian’s parent (News Australia) is a major shareholder.



Join Together for Better Care

1 person in 20 is affected by a rare disease.
Over 6000 different rare diseases affect children and adults.
Most are genetic, chronic and debilitating.
But above all they isolate patients and their families.
International Rare Disease Day is 28 February 2014.
This year Rare Disease Day encourages us to continue finding ways to work together to provide the different kinds of care that people living with a rare disease need.


Is there something interesting near where you live and/or work? Got an interesting story? Got an event coming up? Tell us about it!


A quiet revolution in teaching

At a time of some debate about the quality of university education, RMIT vice-chancellor Margaret Gardner says there has been a ‘quiet revolution’ in university teaching which has seen a steady but significant improvement since the mid-1990s.

Professor Margaret GardnerThere has been much recent comment about the quality of university education and it is a topic worthy of more debate.  As we debate, we should recognise that a quiet revolution has occurred in Australian universities beneath the publicity about MOOCS and world rankings.

This revolution is seen in the steady but significant improvement in university teaching since the mid-1990s.

There have been improvements in various measures, ranging from the satisfaction of graduates with their teaching to the percentage of students retained in in university education.

Each year’s increase in graduates’ satisfaction with their teaching has been modest… but over two decades the improvement has been big enough to indicate a transformation in university teaching.

From 2005, the Australian government introduced a new student number that allows it to count as ‘retained in higher education’ students who enroll in another institution.  Once this adjustment is made, there is a marked increase in the retention rate from 84.6 (%?) in 2005 to 86.9 (%?) in 2011.  University teaching has improved despite variable, but overall flat, base real funding per student and steadilyincreasingly student-staff ratios since 1990, from under 15 students per academic for much of the 1990s to more than 20:1 in 2009.

This improvement has occurred even though there has not been substantial performance funding   to boost teaching, nor does teaching earn the reputational rewards that university rankings give to research.

The steady improvement in university teaching in Australia is due to a mutual reinforcing combination of several factor.

The first, and most important, is academics’ commitment to their discipline and their students.

Academics make considerable investment in, and sacrifice for, their careers for several reasons, but high among many is their love of their discipline and their wish to advance it among students and other scholars.

Whatever grumbles  are made about students from time to time, as other professionals moan about their clients, overwhelmingly academics  want their students to do well and are committed to contributing to that by improving their teaching.

A second important factor has been robust measures of the quality of courses and teaching, and their deployment throughout universities in a way that supports teaching improvement.

This started with Paul Ramsden’s development of the national course experience questionnaire in the early 1990s…The widespread university use of CEQuery, developed by Geoff Scott, to help educators analyse graduates’ comments in student surveys (and explain the reasons behind their ratings) has built on this base.

Each university has adopted similar surveys of their students’ satisfaction with their subjects and teaching, and these are examined at least annually by the academics themselves as well as by the heads of their programs, departments or schools.

A third crucial factor improving Australian universities’ teaching has been the contribution of the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT).  The OLT is the direct successor of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (2008-2011), and was previously known as the Carrick Institute, formed in 2004.  The OLT’s grants for academics and professional staff to investigate, develop and implement innovations in learning and teaching are assessed by peers and accorded the same status as peer evaluated research grants, greatly enhancing the standing of scholarship and innovation.

The office’s prestigious fellowships support leading educators to make institution or sector-wide improvements fellowships support leading educators to make institution or sector-wide improvements in teaching.  There is now a significant network of current and former fellows who provide continuing advice and support on teaching excellence across higher education in Australia and beyond.

The OLT continues the longstanding awards for outstanding contributions to student learning and for teaching excellence. These high-profile celebrations of achievements reward and encourage leadership min improving teaching and learning.  The reports, including good practice reports, on the office’s website, are valuable resources.

These factors have resulted in several improvements in universities’ learning and teaching.  Many disciplines now have significant resources to draw on to improve educational standards and teaching from engineering to accounting to clinical practice.  These builds on longstanding attention to the first-year experience, work-integrated learning and the incorporation of graduate attributes into learning outcomes, all of which improve students’ learning and their experience.   These communities of academics committed to building academic integrity, improving English language and cultural competencies.

In recent times the blending of online technologies with on-campus study, called hybrid teaching, and learning in the US (where it seems less widespread), has been a major focus. Other new technologies

Have also been incorporated into traditional teaching and learning such as online submission of assignments, originality checks, marking rubrics and embedded voice and text comments that align assessment and feedback with the syllabus and learning goals.

There is, to my knowledge, no Australian university without a learning management system that holds online materials and supports online interaction with students.

Together online technologies enable learning analytics that universities use to identify early – and precisely what – promotes learning for students.

None of these changes has disrupted universities but collectively the sophistication in understanding teaching and learning has increased and outcomes have improved.  And while we don’t yet measure learning and teaching internationally in rankings as we do research, if we did we might well be surprised at the quality of the learning experience Australian universities provide their students.

The revolution may be quiet but it is profound.

 This article by RMIT vice-chancellor Margaret Garner  was first published in the Australian Financial Review   Monday 28 October 2013.

It’s Gina

29 October 2013

Millionth Student Photos 28thOct 002
Gina Fasanella with NMIT CEO Andy Giddy

After 101 years of operation NMIT (Northern Metropolitan Institute of TAFE) is celebrating its one millionth enrolment: Gina Fasanella who has enrolled in NMIT’s Diploma of Business at the Preston campus.

After completing the short course “How to Start a Successful Business” at NMIT, Gina decided to enrol at NMIT full-time.

“I had already experienced NMIT through my short course and I was really happy with it, plus it was a lot cheaper than my other options,” said Gina. “NMIT is close to my house as well, so it was a really easy decision.”

 As NMIT’s one millionth enrolment, Gina will graduate from an Institute with a rich history of technical education.

 NMIT started with humble beginnings as a technical school on Johnston Street.  Initially, NMIT only had 57 students, all boys, as young as 14, studying preliminary carpentry and pattern-making, plumbing, engineering, sheet iron work and bricklaying.

Today NMIT’s current enrolments exceed 70,000 over 7 campuses.

Why privatising HECS may not be such a good idea

Macrobusiness     |    17 October 2013

“The proposal is kind of bananas”, writes economist Leith van Onselen.

Think about it from the perspective of a potential investor who might consider buying a security that entitled them to a HECS debtstream of future HECS repayments from former students. As they’re currently structured, HECS debts have a 0% real interest rate (they’re just indexed by the CPI), there is no fixed timetable for repayments, and unpaid debts can’t be recouped from a debtor’s estate when he or she passes away.

It wouldn’t make sense to buy such an asset at its full value, when there are other safe assets with guaranteed repayment that pay real interest. To induce people to buy his HECS securities, then, Mr Hockey would have to either:

  1. Sell them at way below their face value; or

  2. Change the terms of the debt by charging real interest and/or allowing the debt to be recovered from the estates of deceased debtors.


LH Martin Institute Insights September 2013



Innovation Darwinism

by Doron Ben-Meir

CEO of Commercialisation Australia Doron Ben-Meir on factors that drive innovation.

University professional staff: enhancing student outcomes

by Carroll Graham

UTS’ Carroll Graham on the key factors team leaders or managers can foster to achieve positive student outcomes.

Can we better link education and work through ‘vocations’ and ‘human capabilities’?

by Dr Nick Fredman

Our Research Fellow Nick Fredman reviews the three-year Vocations project, which is wrapping up at the end of this year.

2014 postgraduate programs for tertiary education leaders and professionals, awarded by The University of Melbourne

Master of Tertiary Education Management

Apply by January 2014. Need more info? Take part in an upcoming online info session or go to our website.

Our two-year, part time Masters program is tailored to the needs of academic and professional leaders in tertiary education institutions. Students gain expert perspectives on tertiary education systems and practical skills for leading and managing successfully in the tertiary education context. Open to Australian and international students with five years relevant work experience and an undergraduate degree.

Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Education Management

Apply by January 2014. Need more info? Take part in an upcoming online info session or go to our website.

A one-year, part time program for current and aspiring managers* in tertiary education institutions. Similar to the Masters, students gain expert perspectives on tertiary education systems and skills for managing successfully in the tertiary education context. Open to Australian and international students with two years relevant work experience and an undergraduate degree.

* Aspiring managers must have completed our Emerging Leaders and Managers Program to be eligible for this program.

Graduate Certificate in Quality Assurance

Apply by January 2014. Need more info? Take part in an upcoming online info session or go to our website.

A one-year, fully online program for quality assurance practitioners in tertiary education or staff of educational institutions that are establishing or improving their internal quality assurance systems. Consists of a comprehensive academic program addressing the evolving demands of quality assurance in the sector. Open to Australian and international students with at least two years relevant work experience and an undergraduate degree.

Upcoming forum, conference and public seminar

Managing Research and Innovation for Social and Economic Development

Register today! 30-31 October 2013, Canberra.

Where to for research and innovation under the new government in Australia? And will the role of tertiary education change? Speakers include Chief Scientist of Australia Prof. Ian Chubb and Chair of Universities Australia, Prof. Sandra Harding.

National Student Engagement Forum: Creating an Engaged Student Experience

21 October 2013, Melbourne; 23 October 2013, Sydney; 25 October 2013, Brisbane.

One-day forum on effective institutional practices for engaging students, including through the use of support partnerships and technology. Speakers include NUS President Jade Tyrrell and Director of the US National Survey of Student Engagement Prof. Alexander McCormick.

VET in Germany

23 October 2013, Melbourne and via webinar

This free seminar by Prof. Sandra Bohlinger from Osnabrueck University, Germany will discuss the core ideas and traditions of Germany’s VET system and how it has arisen to challenges, including demographic shifts and the recent global financial crisis.

Upcoming professional development programs

Emerging Leaders and Managers Program (eLAMP)

Start and finish anytime within a 12-month period; available as a self-paced program for individuals (ATEM members only) or for guided cohorts.

Program designed for new and aspiring managers in tertiary education and delivered through online modules and face-to-face workshops. Also provides a pathway into our Graduate Certificate programs above.

Study Mission to review apprenticeships in Germany and UK

11-21 November 2013. Register by 15 October 2013.

This provider and industry study mission will focus on critical issues affecting the Australian TVET system. It is jointly hosted by the LH Martin Institute and TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) and will visit Hamburg, Bremen and Bonn in Germany and London, Nottingham and Birmingham in the UK.

LH Martin Institute and community news

Dr Gavin Lind wins LH Martin Institute Award for Excellence in Leadership

Dr Gavin Lind from Minerals Council of Australia won the award for his innovative and strong leadership over a sustained period, which included working under political scrutiny and with a wide variety of stakeholders. The award was presented as part of the 2013 ATEM/Campus Review Best Practice Awards in Tertiary Education Management held on 16 September in Hobart.

Congratulations to our TEMC 2013 prize giveaway winners

Thank you to all who dropped by our stand at TEMC 2013 in Hobart. We were thrilled to see many old faces and say hello to new ones. Thank you also to those who participated in our prize giveaway. The winners were:

  • Jennie Connor from University of South Australia, who won a free module in our 2014 Tertiary Education Leadership program;
  • Manita Stokes from Deakin University, who won a free short course of her choice in 2014;
  • Ilse Hindle from The University of Auckland, Mark Medosh from Queensland University of Technology, and Sarah Gatenby-Clark from University of Tasmania who each won a copy of the 2013 book ‘Job Satisfaction around the Academic World’.

Brazilian ministerial delegation visits the LH Martin Institute

Representatives from the Brazillian Ministry of Education’s SERES unit met with LH Martin Institute representatives earlier this month to discuss higher education quality assurance.

OECD reports on research and innovation released

Two reports focusing on research and innovation have been released by the OECD. Both involved the work of LH Martin Institute staff and have been produced under the OECD’s Innovation, Higher Education and Research for Development (IHERD) banner. They will be used, among others, as a base for a workshop with participants from 10 different French speaking countries from West and Central Africa.

Dates for your diary

1 October 2013: Emerging Leaders and Managers Program (eLAMP)  workshop, Melbourne. *For current eLAMP participants only*

16 October 2013: Information sessions for prospective GCQA students, online.

18 October 2013: Information sessions for prospective MTEM/GCTEM students, online.

21 October 2013: National Student Engagement Forum: Creating an Engaged Student Experience, Melbourne.

23 October 2013: National Student Engagement Forum: Creating an Engaged Student Experience, Sydney.

23 October 2013: Free seminar: VET in Germany, Melbourne and via webinar.

25 October 2013: National Student Engagement Forum: Creating an Engaged Student Experience, Brisbane.

30-31 October 2013: Conference: Managing Research and Innovation for Social and Economic Development, Canberra.

11-21 November 2013: Study Mission to review apprenticeships in Germany and United Kingdom.

20 November 2013: Information sessions for prospective GCQA students, online.

22 November 2013: Information sessions for prospective MTEM/GCTEM students, online.

4 December 2013: Information sessions for prospective GCQA students, online.

6 December 2013: Information sessions for prospective MTEM/GCTEM students, online.

January 2014: Applications deadline for our Masters and Graduate Certificate programs.

Ongoing (register and start anytime): Emerging Leaders and Managers Program, online.

Around the world…

Astrophysicist Amaya Moro-Martín’s open letter to the Spanish prime minister asks for her dignity back as a researcher, The Guardian, 28 August.

The happiest universities to work for in the US are…not those that pay the most, Huffington Post, 29 August.

Anders Breivik, the Norwegian man responsible for the death of 77 and wounding of 232 people in a 2011 attack in Oslo, has been admitted to study political science modules at the University of Oslo. The University’s Rector explained the decision to grant Breivik access to the program, The Guardian, 13 September.

Two of mainland China’s largest universities, Peking and Tsinghua, will start offering free online courses in partnership with EdX, South China Morning Post, 19 September.

The Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University, currently available to students from the Commonwealth, the United States and Germany, could soon expand to students from China, Russia, Brazil and elsewhere thanks to a $120-million donation from a Canadian businessman, The Globe and Mail, 19 September.

Merger of Malaysia’s Education and Higher Education ministries will see ‘one education master plan‘ for the country with particular attention paid to public university autonomy, The Malaysian Insider, 20 September.

Engineering is the preferred undergraduate degree of higher education students in the Middle East according to a recent survey, Gulf News, 25 September.

LH Martin Institute in the media

Research Fellow Dr Nick Fredman wrote about effectiveness of mid-level qualifications in ‘Where the middle road leads‘, Campus Review, 16 September.

Comments and contributions

Please send your comments and suggestions for this newsletter to Marisa Simanjuntak Saeter.

Banner image

The banner image in this edition is of former ASX Chief Investment Analyst Prof. Zoltan Matolcsy teaching in our recent Budgeting & Financial Management for Tertiary Education Managers workshop in Melbourne.

The Scan | #138 | 20 September 2013


Education and training separatedIan McFarlane

There was speculation after the announcement of Tony Abbott’s ministry early in the week as to who would be handling VET matters within the education portfolio. The VET side of the tertiary sector has actually landed in the lap of former and once more industry minister Ian McFarlane, along with science and research. It’s a curious decision to separate the tertiary sector in that way, although not without precedent: VET was located in the business portfolio in Victoria in 2006 but reunited with  education by the incoming Baillieu government in 2010….[ READ MORE ]….

The strange case of the missing science minister

Click to enlarge

Does it matter that, for the first time, more of less, in over 80 years that Australia doesn’t have a specifically designated “minister for science”?    Probably not a lot: the highest profile science minister in that whole time was former quiz master Barry Jones who, despite his cleverness and celebrity,  had next to no clout in the Labor government of the 1980s/90s.  He is perhaps best remembered for the “cadastre” – a  spaghetti and meatballs depiction of the ”knowledge nation” he devised for Labor leader Kim Beazley in 1999, when Jones himself was no longer in Parliament.  Rod Lamberts and Will J Grant argue that science certainly needs a strong advocate in cabinet,  someone to stand up and argue in for long term strategic investment in our scientific capacity. Perhaps industry minister Ian McFarlane will prove such an advocate, perhaps he won’t.  But  we have to be careful of jumping to the conclusion that, just because there isn’t a minister with the word science in their title, science won’t be taken seriously … or will be taken any less seriously than it already was….[ READ MORE]….

Budget crunch – and job losses – loom at La TrobeBudget 2013

La Trobe vice-chancellor John Dewar has warned that the university is overdue for a “root-and-branch” crackdown on costs, having systematically avoided addressing  funding issues for the past 10-15 years.  La Trobe is behind its growth target by about 1200 full-time students, amounting to a revenue shortfall of up to $25m by 2015 and an overall deficit of $65 m.   There are fears that measures to address the deficit could cost upwards of 300 jobs….[ READ MORE ]….

Higher education growing in TAFE

holmesglen-002The number of Victorian students enrolling in bachelor degrees at TAFEs instead of universities has more than doubled, from a low base,  in the past five years,  going from 640 enrolments in 2008  to 1520 in 2012.  When associate degrees are counted, the figure more than doubles again to about 3500.  The increase is a mostly Victorian phenomenon, with 44 of the 53 bachelor qualifications being delivered at TAFEs around Australia,  being delivered in Victoria….[ READ MORE ]….

Lilydale grant to be scrutinisedLilydale campus

The Victorian Auditor-General is set to investigate a $100,000 payment to Yarra Ranges Council over a potential conflict of interest.  The government gave the money to the council so it could investigate and draw up a plan for the future use of the closed Swinburne University Lilydale campus…..[ READ MORE ]….

Gap year proves positive

Gap yearStudents who take gap years are generally more successful in their university studies than mature aged students or students who enter university straight from high school, according to a University of Sydney study.  The study tracked 904 Australian students, noting their high school achievements and whether or not they had deferred.    The study found that gap years can help students gain skills, better grades and did not slow down their academic momentum……[ READ MORE ]….

Footscray set to become “edgy university town”Footscray

Footscray would shed its battler image and transform into an edgy university town in a proposal from Victoria University (VU) and Maribyrnong City Council.  VU and the council have signed a memorandum of understanding to build student accommodation and establish arts and sports precincts as part of a scheme to rejuvenate the suburb. The council has a “land bank” of nine car parks that could be redeveloped for the project…..[ READ MORE ]….

UC puts campus up for development

uc-logoThe University of Canberra (UC) is opening up 40 hectares of its main campus in the Canberra suburb of Belconnen for development in the hope of generating $100 million in capital investment each year for the next decade.   UC vice-chancellor Stephen Parker said potential development could range from residential ”alumni” villages, to health research and development bodies wanting to be in close proximity to the new UC hospital, government agencies, commercial organisations, technology parks, arts and culture complexes, sporting facilities and business incubators…..[ READ MORE ]….

Queries on conflict of interest

Former treasurer John Dawkins has queried conflict of interest claims after it emerged he would chair Vocation, a new education john-dawkinscompany reported to be worth $300 million, due to be listed on the stock exchange later this year.  Dawkins, a treasurer and education minister in the Hawke and Keating governments, chairs the National Skills Standards Council (NSSC) and the Australian Qualifications Framework Council.  Dawkins says he has raised his possible involvement in the venture with the members of the NSSC so the council is aware of these developments.  Dawkins says he has raised his possible involvement in the venture with the members of the NSSC and will write to the new minister about the compatibility of such a role with his continued involvement with the NSSC…..[ READ MORE ]….


The new education ministers

16 September 2013 | As widely expected, Christopher Pyne, the Liberals’ education spokesperson in opposition, is to be appointed education minister in the incoming Coalition government and presumably will take carriage for higher education as well as schools education. Sussan Ley is to be appointed the assistant minister for education and  Scott Ryan is to be appointed parliamentary secretary to Pyne.




Bendigo TAFE  chief quits

Maria-SimpsonMaria Simpson has resigned after nearly two years as the chief executive of Bendigo TAFE, saying she plans to retire and spend time with her family.

She says there are still significant challenges facing the institution.

Last year, nearly 100 jobs were lost from the TAFE, courses were cut and the Kyneton campus was closed.

Ms Simpson says the shift to a more commercial focus still has some way to go and will be tough for the Bendigo TAFE board and her successor to manage.

I think the whole process of change will be one that has to occur relatively rapidly and will also be very challenging, and I don’t think that that will come to an end quickly.   The planning and the implementation of plans once decided will be the challenges that they face.

We had probably been slow to make the shift to the commercial orientation that was required and therefore we probably felt the change a lot harder than many because we had to run very hard to catch up.

It is always very difficult to make decisions about people’s lives.


Comment & analysis

The practical value of impractical research

Today’s eccentric can become tomorrow’s Nobel Prize winner

research infrastructure - ABCWith the Coalition government intending to redirect funding from so-called “ridiculous research“, it’s worth re-visiting this item from 30 April 2013 on the practical value of impractical research – and the contribution  to the wellbeing of communities of research in the humanities and social sciences.

In  one of its regular policy notes, the Group of Eight acknowledges the value of applied research, “the more tactical, short term research intended to realise already identified market and other opportunities”. It’s sometimes argued that, with pressures on public budgets, if governments invest specifically in research designed to produce immediately useful outcomes, it would ensure a higher return on government investment.

We witness the life enhancing outcomes of practically oriented research all the time (see Life changing research (1): Epilepsy and (2): Alzheimer’s). But such research often has its origins in “curiosity – led research”, extending over many years and which began with no specific outcome in view.

Moreover, the prospectivity of a research project to produce relatively short term applications can actually serve as an argument against substantial public funding for such a project.

… by definition, research is the process of discovering something we do not already know. The more definite we can be about the research outcome when we start the research, the more trivial the research and the weaker the arguments for government support. …it is not the role of government to fund or perform research that business needs for itself and which does not involve a significant risk.



50_solutions_web72dpi_rgbResearch is taking place in all Australian universities that has the power to save lives, boost economic development, create wealth, re-invent manufacturing and much, much more. Presented here are fifty examples of research outcomes generated by Australian Technology Network (ATN) member universities. They demonstrate the diversity of enquiry and the potential impact this work can have on both Australian society and indeed the world.



The 2013 Ig Nobel Prizes

Ig3The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology. This year’s recipients include researchers who won the psychology prize for confirming, by experiment, that people who think they are drunk also think they are attractive (in a published article Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder).   The biology prize went to a team, including Australians, for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way.   The chemistry prize went to a Japanese team for discovering that the biochemical process by which onions make people cry is even more complicated than scientists previously realised.   And this year’s peace prize was awarded to Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.



Innovating from the edges in South Australia

Open edcucationSouth Australia  has an interesting, sometimes paradoxical relationship with change.  One the one hand very conservative, at the same time South Australian attracts national interest for innovative, progressive initiatives.  The Thinkers in Residence Program (recently defunded) hosted Martin Seligman and Carla Rinaldi to challenge the state to reimagine and recreate their education system.

South Australia is now attracting attention with a grassroots movement that seeks to innovate from the edges of the education system.

CoCreate Education was founded by a group of educators and entrepreneurs on the premise that education is ripe for disruptive innovation.  They claim that technology, social and scientific advancement are opening up new avenues for education to be more effective and more accessible.



Life & stuff

Things that have more women in them than Tony Abbott’s cabinet

Women aren’t particularly well represented at the higher reaches of corporate governance in Australia, with just 16% of ASX listed companies being women.  Even to meet that low threshold, the Coalition cabinet would need three women members but could only rustle up one.  The Junkee website published a small list,  to put this in perspective:

The Afghan government cabinet (3 women ) –  Zoo Weekly‘s staff meeting (3) – The Augusta Golf Club (2) – The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s National Board Meeting (2) – The Supreme Court of the United States (3) – The Saudi Arabia Olympics Team (2)Muammar Gaddafi’s personal guard (lots) – The Mad Men writers’ room (7) –  Facebook’s board 0f directors (2) – The Iranian government cabinet (2) – Tony Abbott’s immediate family (4).

The Abbott Family
The Abbott Family



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