Keeping UON staff informed on the latest sector news and developments.
Tuesday 11 March 2014
The government’s bid to streamline the national higher education regulator, TEQSA, has received a setback in the Senate, with Labor and the Greens joining forces to refer the Bill back to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee. The Bill, which was introduced to Parliament last week, sought to implement the reforms proposed by the Lee Dow and Braithwaite review of higher education red tape, which had bipartisan support; however, two key measures in the Bill – a dialling-back of the role of the TEQSA Chief Commissioner and a ‘spill’ of the Commissioners more broadly – were not recommendations made by the Review. Universities Australia has expressed concern about the delays, acknowledging the importance of scrutinising legislation but reinforcing universities’ desire for streamlined regulation. Relatedly, TEQSA has knocked back a proposal by universities that they should be more lightly regulated than other providers due to their self-accrediting status and internal QA and governance arrangements, stating that provider type was ânot the decisive factor for a regulatorâ. Meanwhile, the head of New Zealand’s Academic Quality Agency has highlighted that country’s focus on ‘enhancement-led’ rather than compliance-focused quality assurance, noting that New Zealand universities have joint and collective responsibility for the quality assurance of academic programs via a Committee on University Academic Programs established through the peak body for universities.
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/teqsa-reform-bill-sent-off-for-senate-inquiry/story-e6frgcjx-1226847344352 [paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/university-plea-for-special-status-fails-to-impress-regulator/story-e6frgcjx-1226850715800 [paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/quality-assured-when-unis-do-it-themselves/story-e6frgcjx-1226847165682 [paywall]
Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt has called for stability in science and innovation policy and a removal of âperverse incentivesâ for universities to teach large numbers of students in low-cost disciplines, suggesting that universities that âwish to concentrate on excellenceâ, such as ANU, are being unfairly penalised. He also suggests that governments and universities should adopt the example of the biotech industry, where research and industry âco-exist for the benefit of each otherâ. Chief Scientist Ian Chubb has also renewed his calls for an overarching science and technology strategy, folding in the five pillars of education, new knowledge, innovation, international and community engagement. Chubb highlights that a school-to-university pipeline for STEM disciplines is key, a message taken up by the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne, who are teaming up with high schools to embed science and mathematics researchers in school facilities. First cab off the ranks is The King’s School in Sydney, which will co-locate STEM researchers in a new science centre that boasts 18 laboratories, a glasshouse and crop-trial beds for use by students and researchers-in-residence, while Melbourne is hosting researchers at the new, selective Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences.
- http://www.afr.com/p/national/education/let_bust_out_of_the_endless_loop_NO9hOPk29wuGH8QJwTxwOI [paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/scientific-innovation-vital-to-securing-our-prosperity/story-e6frgcjx-1226845083096 [paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/unis-branch-out-on-stem/story-e6frgcjx-1226847741864 [paywall]
Australian universities have lost ground in the latest reputation rankings, with the five Group of Eight universities who achieved a rank in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings all slipping from last year’s ranks. The Times Higher Education World Reputation Ranking is a purely subjective system based on academics’ perception of the best 100 global universities, which does not fold in measures such as research productivity or student/staff ratios. Government cuts to university funding have been blamed for the drop in global perceptions of Australian excellence, with increasing investment in Asian competitors also cited as a factor. Still on reputation, The Conversation reports that new research on public perceptions of Australian universities indicates that while more than 75% of Australians have a positive view of universities, there was limited understanding of the broader role of universities in undertaking research outside strictly ‘practical’ fields. The research also indicated that up to 25% of businesses and the general public surveyed âopposeâ international education.
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/unis-slip-further-in-global-rankings-as-funding-cuts-bite/story-e6frgcjx-1226846379201 [paywall]
- http://www.afr.com/p/national/education/harsh_lessons_for_australia_in_world_qNZ3oZmrW2izh1VRGbvu6J [paywall]
- http://www.smh.com.au/national/tertiary-education/australian-universities-slide-in-international-rankings-20131003-2uthr.html [no paywall, but article limits]
- http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2014/reputation-ranking [no paywall]
- http://theconversation.com/good-bad-and-ugly-public-perceptions-of-australian-universities-23318 [no paywall]
The Conversation has kicked off a new series on ‘Reimagining the campus’, with the first article from Griffith academic Jason Lodge analysing the role of the campus in the age of online learning and the interconnectivity of both modes in enhancing quality learning. The Sydney Morning Herald highlights the role of ‘campus towns’, such as the 4600-bed student accommodation precinct at UNSW, in boosting universities’ bottom line and improving the student experience, noting a survey that found that students living on-campus achieve better marks than those who live at home or in a share house. However, The Australian suggests that universities and developers are âhijackingâ the National Rental Affordability Scheme to help build units for âwealthy foreign studentsâ in major cities, noting that while university housing projects meet the requirements of the scheme, they move the scheme away from the the intended beneficiaries of low-to-middle income Australians. In other infrastructure news, James Cook University will expand into the Townsville CBD, building teaching facilities and a drop-in centre for students alongside displays of JCU research.
- http://theconversation.com/the-campus-is-dead-long-live-the-campus-21372 [no paywall]
- http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/campus-towns-are-big-business-for-unis-20140222-338w6.html#ixzz2vbePqepM [no paywall, but article limits]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/alp-housing-scheme-abused/story-fn59niix-1226850865063 [paywall]
- http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-07/jcu-cbd-expansion-a-new-era-for-townsville/5306050 [no paywall]
Staff at Macquarie University will take industrial action today following a breakdown in enterprise bargaining negotiations, with key points of contention including workload and the conversion of casual positions into permanent âteaching scholarâ roles. In contrast to other institutions, pay is not a major issue in the negotiations, with only 0.1 per cent pa difference between union and management claims at present. In other industrial news, the NTEU has called on James Cook University to make the financial records of the university public to help staff make an informed decision about whether redundancies to be offered as part of budget cuts are fair.
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/macquarie-uni-hit-by-one-day-strike/story-e6frgcjx-1226850730036 [paywall]
- http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-05/union-wants-jcu-financial-records-made-public/5299700 [no paywall]
New figures indicate that the proportion of school graduates enrolling in TAFE courses has dropped to its lowest level in 10 years, driven by the removal of caps on undergraduate places as part of the demand-driven system. Experts caution that students enrolling with lower ATARs may need additional support to succeed, highlighting the more independent nature of university study compared to TAFE studies. Ahead of the release of the Kemp and Norton review of the demand-driven system of student funding, the government has also released a plan to urge more school students to undertake school-based apprenticeships rather than aim for university. Critics have highlighted the likely impact on the participation agenda, which the government has been reluctant to embrace, and noted the Abbott government’s axing of Labor’s 650 Trade Training Centres in schools.
- http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/students-choosing-university-over-tafe-20140219-32z2s.html [no paywall, but article limits]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/school-trade-training-gets-second-life/story-fn59nlz9-1226847519859 [paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/jobs-key-if-libs-mean-business-on-trades/story-fn59nlz9-1226848372407 [paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/students-false-hope-on-jobs/story-e6frgcjx-1226845121224 [paywall]
- http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/managing/blogs/the-venture/is-uni-worth-it-20140305-3464f.html [no paywall, but article limits]
UNSW VC Fred Hilmer, who has announced he will retire at the end of 2014 after more than eight years in the role, has again stepped into the ATAR debate, stating that his university’s controversial decision to set a minimum ATAR of 80 for entry into its courses had not affected enrolments, with increased enrolments in areas such as Arts where drops had been feared.