VET appointments

The Scan #176 16 December 2015

News

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Rebalancing Victorian VET

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16 December 2015     |     The Victorian government has released the Final Report of The VET Funding Review (Mackenzie Report).  It’s a weighty document, both literally and figuratively, running to 173 pages and 109 recommendations. Skills minister Steve Herbert says the government accepts the “general thrust” of the report and its recommendations.  It will take the next year to work through design and implementation issues and to consult with stakeholders ahead of the introduction of a new funding model in 2017.  Certain matters, however, are given, such as restoring the public provider network (TAFE) as the bulwark of quality in the VET system, imposing stricter regulatory and contract compliance on providers and formally abandoning the “open market” approach of its previous government….[ READ MORE ]…..

VET -“more work needed”

14 December 2015    |      Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, state premiers and chief ministers have agreed to more closely review reforms and Race to the bottomregulation, which had begun under the original COAG National Partnership Agreement on skills – initially created in April 2012 under Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  The COAG meeting in Sydney on 11 December 2015 agreed that “further work will be undertaken on options to reform vocational education and training, for initial consideration at COAG’s first meeting in 2016, recognising that skills ministers will continue to work together to address key VET system challenges.”  Training ministers for NSW and Victoria also signalled their dissatisfaction with current vocational education policy, with NSW minister John Barilaro describing current VET FEE-HELP arangements as “a race to the bottom” ….[ READ MORE ]……

Job axe to fall at UWA

UWA

14 December 2015    |    The University of Western Australia (UWA) will lay off 300 staff as part of sweeping cuts aimed at reducing costs. The university will slash 100 academic positions and 200 professional positions early next year.  Fifty new academic positions will be created to enhance the university’s “capability and impact in areas of comparative advantage”.  UWA vice-chancellor Professor Paul Johnson said in a statement that 2015 had been a challenging year for the Australian higher education sector.  National Tertiary Education Union WA secretary Gabe Gooding said the union is outraged and that there is no justification for sacking 300 staff when the university made a $90 million operational surplus in 2014….[ READ MORE ] ….

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VET FEE-HELP skewering VET

11 December 2015      |       Explosive growth in the VET FEE-HELP scheme has masked massive direct public disinvestment in vocational education and training. While a report by NCVER shows a notional growth of 1.7% in 2014 over 2013 (plus $141.0 million, from $8512.4 million to $8653.4 million), it’s all in VET-FEE Help payments: actual direct expenditure by governments, including the Commonwealth declined markedly VET FEE-HELP. ….[ READ MORE ]…..

Innovating an “ideas boom”

Innovation

7 December 2015      |       Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull unveiled his much-anticipated Innovation Statement, saying he wanted to drive an “ideas boom”. The statement allocates almost $1.1 billion over the next four years to promote business-based research, development and innovation.  A key focus of the plan revolves around strengthening ties between the business community, universities and scientific institutions.
A $200 million innovation fund will co-invest in businesses that develop technology from the CSIRO and Australian universities. CSIRO will also get an extra $20 million to help commercialise research outcomes….[ READ MORE ]…..

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Milestones

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Neil Coulson named Victorian Skills Commissioner

16 December 2015

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Mr Coulson has extensive experience working in industry and was the CEO of the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) from 2000 to 2007.  He has also held a number of other senior roles in industry including Chief of Australian Manufacturer Jacyo Corporation from 2007 to 2012 and was a member of the Victorian Learning and Employment Skills Commission between 2001 and 2004.

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Neil Coulson

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Comment & analysis

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16 December 2015

Time to end the exploitation of vulnerable people

The case for REAL reform

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It’s hard to argue with the proposition that Australia’s vocational education sector is a mess.  Mary Leahy (University of Melbourne) writes that tightening regulation and tweaking some of the settings will contain the damage, but these measures alone will not address deeper problems in the sector.   Real, sustained improvement requires rethinking the funding and regulatory models but also the purpose and idea of vocational education.

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VET Reform

There is clear evidence of rorting and rent-seeking in the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

The behaviour of some training providers, agents and brokers is nothing short of despicable. Thousands of students are being signed up to courses that they have little or no chance of completing.

The business model is fairly simple:

    • Register as a training provider and ensure your students have access to VET FEE HELP income-contingent loans.
    • Sign up as many students as possible for single or double diplomas.
    • The student takes on a VET FEE HELP loan to defer payment of course fees.
    • The training provider receives the VET FEE HELP payment from the government.
    • As long as the student is enrolled beyond the census date, the training provider is paid.
    • Even if the course is never started, the provider will receive funds from the government and the student is liable for the debt.

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One size does not fit all

The case for a new university type

Republished 16 December 2015

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Many of our universities are teaching focused rather than research focused.  Why is this a bad thing?  The Lisbon Council, which rated the Australian system highly, considered that while world-class research is an important aspect that allows some universities to turn out first-class students, for the system as a whole the educational mission is paramount.

The national protocols that govern our system ought to reflect the reality, that we have a continuum of university institutional types from research-intensive to teaching-intensive.It is past time we addressed the fiction that all universities are research-intensive and that all academics need to be research-active to be good teachers.

Across Australia there are multi-campus universities that cannot maintain the research activity on all campuses that is supposed to sustain the nexus. Many universities have recognised that good teaching is informed by scholarship by creating teaching-only positions that emphasise scholarship, being currency of knowledge and understanding, over the ideal of research as pure, original discovery.

 

 

UNIVERSITY STOCK

 

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The importance of universities to Australia’s prosperity

28 November 2015

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 Universities Australia commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to analyse the contribution that universities make to Australia’s economic and social prosperity. This work was undertaken to inform the development of Universities Australia’s Keep it Clever—Policy Statement 2016.  The report seeks to present a comprehensive and coherent framework of benefits generated by universities. This includes examination of the conceptual role of universities in Australian society and how they contribute to the success of the nation, as well as a more detailed analysis of the benefits directly attributable to universities. The scope of the analysis does not include a detailed examination of the economic activity generated by university operations, but rather examines the contribution made to the productive capacity of the economy through universities’ teaching and learning, research discovery and adoption, and community service activities.

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As institutions, universities embody social, economic and intellectual resources which combine to generate benefits on a local, national and global scale. They equip students with the knowledge and skills that allow them to make greater contributions to society; they generate and disseminate knowledge which enhances productivity and improves living standards; and they provide a myriad of broader community benefits.

This report canvasses and examines the various ways in which universities contribute to our economic and social prosperity and how, given the economic imperatives confronting Australia, the sector’s role is likely to evolve and grow over time.

 

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How teaching funds research in Australian universities

16 December 2015

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A report by the Grattan Institute report finds that universities earn up to $3.2 billion more from students than they spend on teaching, and have powerful incentives to spend the extra money on research. International students, who usually generate more revenue per student than domestic students, contribute a substantial proportion of this surplus. The report’s author, Andrew Norton, says the finding is concerning because, while university research matters to Australia, the evidence that it improves teaching is less clear. He observes that direct spending on teaching, by contrast, is far more likely to ensure that universities offer the high-quality courses students want. In this commentary in The Conversation, Norton observes that the priority of research within universities means that teaching does not always get its share of time and money. He proposes that any new funding system must ensure that money intended for teaching is spent on teaching.

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Life & stuff

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Christmas 2015

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The VET Store is a  service by the VET Development Centre which provides access to a range of information to support VET practitioners in the work they do.

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Neil Coulson appointed Victoria’s first Skills Commissioner

16 December 2015

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Mr Coulson has extensive experience working in industry and was the CEO of the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) from 2000 to 2007.  He has also held a number of other senior roles in industry including Chief of Australian Manufacturer Jacyo Corporation from 2007 to 2012 and was a member of the Victorian Learning and Employment Skills Commission between 2001 and 2004.

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Neil Coulson

The Commissioner’s role is to work with industry to ensure that Victorian students get skills that will lead to real jobs and real productivity for industry and employers.

In announcing the appointment, skills minister Steve Herbert said Mr Coulson will draw on his knowledge to advise government on how the training system can better support the economy and jobs by addressing skills shortages.

He will also advise Government on how it can meet workforce training needs and boost productivity for employers as well as analysing the training needs of existing and emerging industries.

The appointment gives effect to an election commitment at a cost of $8 million over four years.

Leadership changes at Evocca

22 July 2015

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After becoming embroiled in controversy over some of its marketing practices, Evocca College has restructured its Executive Leadership Team with the appointment of Craig White as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective as of 1 July 2015, following the decision of former Managing Director Robert Gordon to step down from this role and focus on his Board position.

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Craig WhiteThe position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO), which is currently held by Mr White will be filled by KPMG Director David Schweitzer, effective as of 3 August 2015.

An experienced and respected finance industry figure, Mr White has been in the role of CFO at Evocca since his appointment in November 2014. He has extensive experience in financial leadership and management, having previously held the position of CFO at a variety of public companies, including the South Pacific and Korea Division of The Coca-Cola Company, Billabong International Limited, and most recently the Australian Agricultural Company Limited.

He holds a Bachelor of Science, Economics and Accounting (Southampton University, UK), a Master of Business Administration (Deakin University), is a Chartered Accountant and Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (Australia), a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, is on the Board of the Financial Executives Institute of Australia, and has undertaken the Coca-Cola Executive Development Program.

David Schweitzer is currently Director, Mergers and Acquisitions at KPMG where he has worked for 15 years. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (University of Queensland) and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance (Finsia). He has been advising Evocca College for 18 months on strategic initiatives and was seconded to Evocca as interim CFO until Craig was appointed to this role.

Evocca says these appointments reflect a long term strategy and succession plan that Evocca has had in place for some time, reflecting the growth and development of the organisation into being the leading private provider in the VET sector in Australia, along with the organisation’s plans for further expansion.

Mr White observed that:

As the leading private provider in the VET FEE HELP sector in Australia, I feel that we have a responsibility to lead by example in maintaining our high standards and to continue to work closely with government and key stakeholders for further improvement throughout the industry.

New CEO at Melbourne Polytechnic

Melbourne Polytechnic | 20 May 2015

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Rob Wood has been appointed the Chief Executive Officer of Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly NMIT).

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Rob WoodMr Wood  comes to this role from his previous position of Acting Deputy Secretary, Higher Education and Skills Group, in the Victorian government.

Mr Wood joined the Victorian Department of Education and Training in August 2014 as the Executive Director, TAFE and Tertiary Education Support and Oversight Division, leading support to and oversight of Victoria’s TAFEs and university relationships.

He had to come to Australia with substantial experience in public administration in Canada.

Mr Wood was the Acting Deputy Secretary, Higher Education and Skills Group during a critical time of transition to the new Government. He has led the Group’s rapid response to the Government’s ambitious suite of election commitments, including establishment of the TAFE Rescue Fund, Back to Work Fund and the Review of Quality Assurance in Victoria’s VET System.

He will commence at Melbourne Polytechnic on Monday 8 June.

 

TDA Newsletter 7 April 2015

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Federal government considering escape clause for duped VET students

The federal government is considering a new ‘cooling-off’ provision that would allow students signed up by some colleges to back out of agreements.

The Australian reports that Assistant Education Minister Senator Simon Birmingham is evaluating a two-step enrolment system to stop colleges recruiting students signed up as a result of door-to-door sales and other high pressure techniques.

“It should be an opt-in process that operates a little like a cooling-off period,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Rather than opting out at the end of that period, they would have to opt-in as a demonstration of their ­enthusiasm and commitment to do the course.”

Senator Birmingham has also issued a warning to recruitment companies about using bogus job ads in order to gather personal details of job applicant which are passed on to training providers.

“If I find the current laws are inadequate to deal with it, I will be happy to strengthen the rules,” he said.


A new home and a new minister for TAFE NSW

TAFE NSW has been moved from the education portfolio to the industry portfolio and a new minister as part of Premier Mike Baird’s cabinet reshuffle.

Responsibility for TAFE will shift from Education Minister Adrian Piccoli to fellow National MP, John Barilaro, Minister for Regional Development, Skills and Small Business.

Premier Baird said the Coalition made a number of significant announcements on TAFE during the campaign “that indicate the importance of the vocational education and training sector in the Government’s push to create 150,000 new jobs during its second term of office.”

Minister Barilaro, who managed a building firm in Queanbeyan before entering parliament, has been a strong supporter of apprenticeships and training.

TDA extends its congratulations to Minister Barilaro on his new responsibilities.


South Australia to review courses in policy shake-up

The South Australian government has released a new training blueprint to replace the ’Skills for All’ scheme.

Meanwhile, the State Opposition has released a financial performance summary which, it says, shows payments to TAFE SA from the Skills for All program have fallen by almost $49 million this year.

Announcing the reforms, Higher Education and Skills Minister Gail Gago said: “Currently, there are about 900 subsidised courses. Today more than 200 courses that have no students – and more than 150 courses that do not align with the state’s economic priorities or strategic industry needs – will undergo a review.”

A refined list of courses will be released on May 1 and will be subject to consultation with the training and skills sector, and will take effect on July 1.

See more.


ASQA approves TAFE Directors’ tuition assurance scheme

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has approved the tuition assurance scheme (TAS) operated by TDA as suitable for the protection of fees prepaid by vocational education and training (VET) students.

Registered training organisations (RTOs) must protect fees that are prepaid by students in excess of a total of $1,500.

ASQA Chief Commissioner Chris Robinson said: “TAFE Directors Australia applied to ASQA seeking approval for its TAS and, following an extensive assessment, ASQA has determined that TDA’s scheme provides the necessary protection of prepaid student fees and approved its recognition under the national Standards for RTOs.”

Under the TDA TAS, if a member RTO is unable to provide the training for which it has received payment, the student will be placed with a suitable alternative. If no suitable alternative place can be found, fees will be refunded.

See more.


New job services providers announced

The Commonwealth Department of Employment has announced contracts to 66 organisations, including a number of TAFE Institutes, to deliver employment services as part of its new ‘jobactive’ program.

Jobactive will provide $5 billion over three years to deliver job services to 51 employment regions across Australia.

The new model, to come into effect on July 1, will provide outcome payments at four, 12 and 26 weeks to ensure job seekers take up work opportunities, including seasonal work.

Holmesglen and Box Hill Institute secured a number of contracts.

See the full list of providers.


International education strategy gets a thumbs-up

TAFE Directors Australia has welcomed the release by Education Minister Christopher Pyne of the Draft National Strategy for International Education.

TDA’s Acting CEO, Malcolm White commended the government for finally responding to the recommendations of the Chaney Report, Educating Globally, which was released over two years ago.

“We are particularly pleased to see a strong emphasis on vocational education and training and the significant benefits this sector does, and can, provide,” he said.

“We now look forward to a May budget which provides clear incentives and investments to achieve this,” Mr White said.

The Minister said that international education is a $16.3 billion export industry that supports 130,000 jobs nationally.

“It has been estimated that over the next decade international education could double in value to the Australian economy, creating tens of thousands of local jobs,” he said.

See the Draft National Strategy for International Education.

See TDA’s media release.


Financial advice tool now available for VET students

Apprentices and trainees will be able to improve their money management skills, following the release of ‘Be MoneySmart’ – a financial education resource aimed at those in the vocational education and training sector.

The resource was developed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), in consultation with the Australian Tax Office, Group Training Australia, Fair Work Building and Construction, Bendigo Kangan Institute and Innovation and Business Skills.

Be MoneySmart covers five topics – saving, budgeting and spending; personal tax; superannuation; debt management; and insurance.

It is a free, online resource that can be used for accredited training as part of the Certificate III in Financial Services or for general money management skills development programs.

It is also available as a package for training organisations.

See more.


Vietnam and TAFE NSW expand their training partnership

TAFE NSW and the Government of Vietnam have signed a new MOU that will see education and vocational training expanded to more colleges in Ho Chi Minh City.

The MOU will allow Vietnam’s most prestigious provider of vocational education, EMG Education, to roll out extra programs over the next three years with TAFE NSW.

TAFE NSW Managing Director Pam Christie said the training program which began earlier this month has been such a success that both parties agreed to expand the program across additional colleges.

“The continuing progress of this program will see students improve both their English language and vocational skills,” Ms Christie said.

Activities began this week with the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment professional development program which will be delivered to 30 vocational teachers who will then deliver TAFE NSW courses with the support of five TAFE NSW Institutes.

Closer partnership: TAFE NSW Chair, Margy Osmond and Managing Director, Pam Christie; Vietnam’s Minister for Education, Pham Vu Luan; EMG Education Chairman, Hung Truong and Sydney TAFE Director, David Riordan.

See more.


Victorian TAFE Association appoints Executive Director

The Victorian TAFE Association has appointed Andrew Williamson as its new Executive Director.

Andrew has held a number of senior positions in the Victorian VET sector, most recently in the Victorian Department of Education and Training, where he was Acting Director of TAFE Governance and Performance Monitoring in the Higher Education and Skills Group.

Previously, Andrew was an Associate Director at Victoria University, where his leadership responsibilities included industry liaison and innovation in the trades disciplines.

He is a founding member and past President of VALA (Victorian Applied Learning Association) and past President of VISTA, the peak professional association for managers and leaders in the Victorian VET sector.

TDA extends its congratulations to Andrew on his new role.


More funding to help young carers

The federal government will provide an additional 150 bursaries to help young carers to continue study or vocational training.

Carers Australia received 800 applications for bursaries this year.

Due to the strong demand, the Young Carer Bursary Programme will provide an extra 150 bursaries worth a total of $450,000 – on top of the 150 already announced.

The government will also provide $50,000 to Carers Australia to support the delivery of the bursaries.

There are more than 300,000 young carers under 25 who look after people with disability, physical or mental health issues, or older people in need of help.

See more.



Diary Dates

WAVE National Conference
Leaders, teachers, learners, leavers: Women in the Australian VET market

DATE: 8 April 2015
LOCATION: Melbourne, Victoria
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

AVETRA
18th Annual Conference

DATE: 8-10 April 2015
LOCATION: The Rendezvous Grand, Melbourne
DETAILS: More information.

Group Training Association of NSW & ACT
The future of work: Rethinking employment, training and skills in NSW and ACT

DATE: 7 May 2015
LOCATION: Amora Hotel, Sydney
DETAILS: More information.

Global Concepts Symposium
Centre for Excellence & LH Martin Institute

DATE: 27 May 2015
LOCATION: Perth, Western Australia
DETAILS: More information coming soon.

EduTECH
National Congress & Expo

DATE: 2 & 3 June 2015
LOCATION: Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

NSW ITABS
Navigating the new world: New challenges = New Opportunities

DATE: 4 June 2015
LOCATION: Sofitel Wentworth Hotel, Sydney
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

Western Sydney Careers Expo
DATE: 18-21 June 2015
LOCATION: Showground, Sydney Olympic Park
DETAILS: Click here for more information.

NCVER
‘No Frills’ conference

DATE: 6-8 July 2015
LOCATION: University of Western Sydney
DETAILS: More information.

Victorian TAFE Association
2015 State Conference – Leading Transformational Change

DATE: 16-17 July 2015
LOCATION: RACV Club, Melbourne
DETAILS: More information coming soon.

VET Development Centre
Teaching and Learning Conference

DATE: 3-4 September 2015
LOCATION: RACV Torquay Resort, Victoria
DETAILS: More information.

National VET Conference
Velg Training

DATE: 17-18 September 2015
LOCATION: Adelaide Convention Centre
DETAILS: More information.

 

 

 

 

New VET Panel chair attracts attention for wrong reasons

20 August 2014

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Commonwealth industry minister Ian Macfarlane  has announced the appointment of a five-member Vocational Education and Training Advisory Board, charged in particular with ensuring that will provide feedback to the Government as it continues reforms to the sector. The chair of the panel heads Restaurant and Catering Australia, whose RTO was initially refused re-registration last year.

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Macfarlane said the Australian Government is focussed on” ensuring industry has a stronger voice in the VET system”, so that it “is efficient and effective in delivering the job-ready workers that industry needs”. The sub-text of that is that industry doesn’t have a strong influence in VET and that it is not efficient and effective in delivering job- ready workers (see Paralysis by analysis).

The Board is made up of:

  • John Hart (Chair)– Chief Executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia and a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council;
  • Patrick McKendry (Deputy Chair)–  CEO Careers Australia Group and former Chairman of the National Quality Council and TVET Australia;
  • Tara Diamond– Executive Director, Industry Services at the Australian Mines & Metals Association;
  • Dominique Fisher– Executive Chairman and Managing Director of CareerLounge; and
  • Jodie Hughson– Manager for Quality, Learning and Workplace Development for Anglicare, Southern Queensland.

 

The Australian now reports that a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) run by Restaurant and Catering Australia was refused re-registration last year.John Hart

That decision was reversed nine months later after the training company Restaurant and Catering NSW came to an agreement following an appeals process with the national regulator in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Hart dismissed suggestions that Restaurant and Catering NSW had been refused registration.

This rejection by ASQA (Australian Skills Quality Authority) was overturned on appeal and registration granted for five years. This being the case, there was no rejection

The obvious question is, if there was no rejection, why did it end up in the AAT, which reviews “administrative decisions”?

A spokesman for ASQA said it is quite common for training organisations to use time bought by the appeals process to become compliant, but did not say whether this was the case with Restaurant and Catering Australia’s RTO.

Hart is also chairman of the North Sydney Forum, a controversial fund-raising body attached to the Liberal Party federal electoral conference in Joe Hockey’s seat of North Sydney and has been called to give evidence to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into alleged illegal political donations. .

The Scan | 4 July 2014 | #156


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Govt sets VET deregulation agendaMacFarlane

4 July 2014    |    The government has set out its deregulatory intentions for vocational training, signalling a shift away from “gateway control” to “responsive regulation”. Speaking at a skills summit organised by the Australian Council of Private Education and Training and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, industry minister Ian Macfarlane said the government had “revisited” the work of the now abolished National Skills Standards Council (NSCC) and released new draft standards for training providers and regulators. The proposed standards dump what the minister described as” several of the more contentious reforms” proposed by the former NSSC, notably measures that would have strengthened Registered Training Organisation (RTO) entry (“gateway”) standards, including a change from registered training organisation to licensed training organisation. The proposed requirement for all RTOs to have an “Accountable Education Officer” has also been removed.. …..[ MORE ]….

ACPET chief quits

Claire Field4 July 2014 | Claire Field, the respected chief executive of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), has resigned. ACPET said Ms Field is leaving to pursue “new challenges” after four years in the job. Company secretary Larry Davies is now acting CEO pending the appointment of a permanent successor. The suddenness of the departure caught the sector by surprise, but ACPET chairman Martin Cass said it was entirely her decision to leave to pursue other opportunities and there was nothing to read into her departure. He said Ms Field has made a significant contribution to the private education and training sector during her four years as CEO of ACPET. Ms Field has been a strong advocate for ACPET members during a period of substantial change in both the higher education and vocational education and training sectors. She has also been instrumental in strengthening ACPET’s focus on quality and lifting membership standards…..[ MORE ]….

TAFE share of VET crashingdecline (1)

4 Jly 2014   |   Analysis by Leesa Wheelahan of recent VET statistics shows that TAFE’s share of publicly funded in Australia students is now 55.6%.  In Victoria TAFE’s share of publicly funded students has fallen to 37.4%, while in South Australia it has fallen to 52.3%.  Private providers now teach the majority of students in Victoria (50.5%), and they teach 44% of publicly funded students in South Australia.   Wheelahan concludes that TAFE is “fast becoming a residual provider, left with teaching what the private providers don’t want to or can’t teach….It is forcing TAFE to be just like a private provider, with the narrow concerns of a private provider.”…..[ MORE ]….

La Trobe cuts economics

La-Trobe_Logo_x24 July 2014    |    La Trobe University is planning to cut about 69 academic positions in its business, economic and law faculty with economics, accounting, management and marketing the worst hit. Academic staff in economics will be cut by almost two-thirds to just 10 under a proposed restructure circulated to staff ……[ MORE ]….

NMIT  to cut 170 jobsNMIT2 (2)

4 July 2014    |    Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT), one of Victoria’s biggest TAFEs will cut up to 170 teaching and administrative jobs, after reporting a loss of nearly $30 million and a fall in student enrolments by more than 5000 in 2013. NMIT’s interim chief executive Ron Gauci said he had been briefing staff on the changes He said the range of redundancies, between 150 and 170, included positions that had already been cut this year…..[ MORE ]….

 

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Milestones

Deakin V-C reappointed

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Professor Jane den Hollander has been reappointed as Deakin University’s Vice-Chancellor and President for a further five years from 1 July 2014.
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3 July 2014     |     The Chancellor of Deakin University, David Morgan said that Professor den Hollander “has provided inspirational and highly effective leadership to Deakin University at a time of significant change to the tertiary sector.

During her stewardship, Deakin’s reputation and standing in the community has significantly strengthened.  Deakin has been the highest ranked Victorian university each year for overall student learning satisfaction and student numbers have grown 26 per cent to a projected 50,000 by the end of 2014.

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Fed Uni appoints Ballarat leadersam-henson

3 July 2014     |    Sam Henson has been announced as Federation University Australia’s Head of Ballarat Campuses.   Formerly Associate Dean for International and Partnerships, Dr Henson will take up the new position on 1 July.   The position will entail broad oversight of the campuses as well as a role in building deep and lasting partnerships with Ballarat community, government and industry stakeholders.

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Comment & analysis

Higher education outside universities: a better option?

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3 July 2014    |    The likely extension of commonwealth student subsidies to non-university providers portends big changes for the higher education sector.
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Higher education provision outside universities is likely to increase significantly in the future, as a result of the government accepting a recommendation of the review of the demand driven funding system to expand eligibility for government-supported tuition subsidies, should the measure pass the Senate.

In this panel discussion chaired by the Grattan Institute’s Andrew Norton, a member of the review panel, the nature of the non-university higher education sector, the implications for it and its students of receiving Commonwealth tuition subsidies, and the consequences for the broader higher education system are explored. Other panel members are Mary Faraone (Holmesglen Institute), Jeannie Rea (National Tertiary Education Union) and George Brown (Study Group Australasia).

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Civilisation as we don’t know it: teaching-only universities

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Gavin Moodie3 July 2014     |     The Scan has long been a proponent of “teaching only universities” (see One size does not fit all unis). In this piece in The Conversation, Gavin Moodie observes that there is no reason in principle, practice nor historical precedent to champion or oppose teaching only universities. But were the research requirement of universities removed from the higher education threshold standards he doesn’t expect any current Australian university to relinquish its research role. Rightly or wrongly, he writes, research has become so embedded in universities’ ethos and activities since the 1960s that it is central to all universities and to most academics’ conception of themselves as universities and as university academics. Greg Craven, vice-chancellor of Australian Catholic University, argues that teaching only institutions would not be universities as we know them (no, they would not be, which is the point) and would impoverish students’ educational experience (why would being exposed to good or excellent teaching and scholarship impoverish a student??).
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Teaching

With higher education changes meaning universities will soon be looking for ways to cut costs, many have been wondering if universities will give up on research to focus on where the money is – teaching students.

Teaching-only universities have long been contentious in Australia. Various people, interests and arguments promote teaching only universities, while other bodies and arguments support the Australian status quo.

Do universities have to do research?

In Australia, the higher education threshold standards restrict the title of university to institutions which conduct research and offer research masters and doctorates in at least three broad fields of study. The threshold standards are a regulation that may be changed by the government, if it is allowed by both houses of federal parliament.

Australia is unusual in making research a condition of designation as a university. Most institutions accepted as universities worldwide conduct no research, such as many universities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Requirements differ across the OECD.

Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Massachusetts in the US make research a condition of designation as a university, but England and California do not. All universities in Ontario in Canada conduct research, but British Columbia has a category of teaching-only universities which were formerly community colleges before upgrading as university colleges and then as universities.

Research was established as an institutional role of universities relatively recently. Research has long been a personal activity of scholars, some of whom were located in universities, but it did not emerge as an institutional role until the 19th century.

Even so, a research role for universities was rejected by Cardinal Newman in his famous lectures on The Idea of a University as late as 1853. Research has been an institutional role of universities for only about one-fifth of their history since the establishment of the first European universities in the 11th and 12th centuries.
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Life & stuff

 Material world

In his book Making the Modern World, Vaclav Smil argues that the most important man-made material is concrete, both in terms of the amount we produce each year and the total mass we’ve laid down. Concrete is the foundation (literally) for the massive expansion of urban areas of the past several decades, which has been a big factor in cutting the rate of extreme poverty in half since 1990. In 1950, the world made roughly as much steel as cement (a key ingredient in concrete); by 2010, steel production had grown by a factor of 8, but cement had gone up by a factor of 25.

This animated GIF shows the dramatic transformation of Shanghai since 1987. Most of what you’re seeing in that picture is concrete, steel, and glass:

Shanghai
An animated combination picture shows the financial district of Pudong in 1987 and in 2013 with the nearly-complete Shanghai Tower, in the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai, on July 31, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer, Carlos Barria)

 

A staggering statistic:

cement-a_800

See
The Bill Gates Book Review: Have you hugged a concrete pillar today?

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