Davis denied: Melbourne students return fire

Davis disputed

Glyn Davis surely knew what he was getting into the other day when he made the case for higher fees to University of Melbourne staff and students. And that is an argument. The Melbourne University Student Union responded yesterday in a critical letter to the vice chancellor. “I have no doubt that fee deregulation would result in more money for the university, that makes sense, because student contributions would be higher. But it would also create a culture in which talented, passionate, clever students were passed over for students with bigger bank accounts. Fee deregulation would make you look fantastic, but it would do nothing for the wider community.” The students also suggested that fee deregulation is not inevitable, that Universities Australia opposes it and is running a campaign for more base funding. I must have missed that. Certainly UA is running yet another advertising campaign for more money but it has kept quiet on the present argument over deregulated fees.

A bob three ways

Bob “three chairs” Carr is joining UTS as director of the new Australia China Relations Institute. Professor Carr will work “on a near full-time basis.” Presumably he will devote what few hours are left to his professorial fellowship at the University of Sydney’s Southeast Asia Centre and his adjunct professorship in Asia, China and international relations at the University of New South Wales. I wonder if he will insist on being addressed as Professor, Professor, Professor Carr?

Never give up

You can’t fault Andy Vann for energy and optimism. Yesterday the Charles Sturt University vice chancellor was spruiking the benefits of the proposed Murray Darling Medical School, telling a bush paper he was “hopeful” that the budget would include $45m for it and that Canberra officials grasp the case for the school. Of course, Professor Vann also said that he keeps hearing that there is no money for the project. But that isn’t stopping him making his case to budget eve.

Plus ca change

“UNIVERSITY students will be charged more than $100,000 for full-fee-paying places in more than 100 courses next year,” Harriet Alexander, Sydney Morning Herald, August 15 2007. “The NTEU says that if the Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, caves into the demands of Group of Eight and some other university vice chancellors and lifts the existing caps on fees charged to government supported university students, then days of $100,000 university degree will not be far off.” National Tertiary Education Union, yesterday.

Newcastle leads

The Times Higher ranking for universities under 50 years old is out. This is a brilliant marketing idea by THE, which gets fast growing Asian institutions into the ranking game, because the US and European Universities that dominate the upper echelons of every other league table are much older. Australian institutions also did well this year, with 14 (as many as Great Britain on the list). All Innovative Research Universities that participated made the list (James Cook U didn’t), with IRU member Uni Newcastle ranking highest at 28. The five Australian Technology Network universities are also all there. It is also a good result for Paul Wellings, now vice chancellor of the University of Wollongong, which jumped ten places to 33. His last university, Lancaster in the UK, made it into the top ten. Barney Glover should also be pleased with his new appointment, the University of Western Sydney breaking into the list at 87. His previous campus, Charles Darwin jumps six spots to 69, ahead of institutions with bigger research reps, including Curtin, Flinders and Griffith. Insofar as rankings like these prove anything the worse result is La Trobe, which drops 12 places and just scrapes in at equal 100th.

Victoria U bites the bullet

One institution that did not make the cut is Victoria University in Melbourne, which will cut 200 professional staff and 100 academics. Yesterday’s announcement was a long time coming with the dual sector institution known to be in strife since the state government opened training to private providers. But there is more to this than saving cash, otherwise why would the university have agreed to a five-year wages deal with increases that average 3.3 per cent a year? In 2012 the university ran a $6.4m deficit (the most recent audited figure) attributed by the Auditor General “mainly to an increase in employee wage and redundancy costs.” It seems the university is biting the bullet for a world where the sorts of students, not especially academic, it attracts are expensive to teach and private providers have lower costs.

Opportunity knocks

University of New South Wales business student Bradley Kalvogas says, “Australia needs to do more to foster young entrepreneurs.” Mr Kalvogas will represent the university at the G20 Youth Forum in Germany next week. Sound like fostering to me.

Try before you buy

Charles Sturt University understands MOOCS marketing potential. I cannot imagine a better way to sell courses than to let people get a sense of teaching quality by studying skills they need for free. The university has free on-line courses in IT and now it is extending the strategy to financial studies, with a five-week MOOC on estate planning. The course is based on a unit in CSU’s masters of applied finance, I wonder how many sales for the masters the MOOC will make.

Dolt of the day

Is me. Yesterday I mentioned Julia Gillard has an appointment at the University of Melbourne. It is, of course U of Adelaide.

Know something the world needs to know? Anonymity guaranteed but lots of questions asked, stephen4@hotkey.net.au