For-profits under pressure

Plus alpha educator AITSL wants to know what teachers think about it

In breaking news

“2015 is the last year of our 2011-15 strategic plan,” University of Sydney VC Michael Spence tells staff yesterday.

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Fat chance

At last a Greg Craven critic! Yesterday Dr Nicole Mockler from the School of Education at the University of Newcastle took issue with the emphasis on accountability in the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group report. She fears it will generate not much more than a pile of paperwork. “There’s an old farming saying that goes ‘you don’t make a pig fatter by weighing it’. What we find in the TEMAG report are many recommendations for weighing the pig and very few for fattening it up.”

Outstanding innings

What a master of political spin is Adrian Piccoli. The NSW education minister was on Linda Mottram’s ABC Sydney radio programme yesterday, talking about TAFE and answering hostile callers. He played a straight bat to complaints about a new administration system, which is struggling with enrolments. He padded away complaints about course fees, pointing out to one weeping caller that Vet Fee Help existed to help her. And he played to the TAFE lobby on the Hill, pointing out that rather than a lackey of the private providers the NSW Auditor General says the government has made protecting TAFE’s present 80 per cent of the training market a priority. “I want to make sure TAFE receives the lions share,” he said. It was a polished performance, hitting the policy ball all over the ground, which demonstrates why the public education unions will struggle to make training an issue in next month’s state election.

But one issue did not get a mention – teacher education standards. Mr Piccoli has run hard on higher entry requirements for teacher education degrees and wants his own exams, starting next year, for new graduates who want to teach in state schools. But not a word of this yesterday – perhaps the Craven report was a surprising short ball he did not except. More like the canny minister has a plan of his own ready to hit NSW education faculties for six.

Nothing to say

Kevin Andrews met with the great and the good of Geelong yesterday, notably Deakin Vice Chancellor Jane den Hollander. “It was great,” the defence minister said, “hearing about future local opportunities for defence industry.” Um, isn’t Mr Andrews the one who should be doing the talking what him being minister and all? In particular I suspect what the Geelong leaders wanted to hear was what the university and industry partners can expect on the Land 400 armoured fighting vehicle project. Deakin is a key partner in a local consortium that wants to bid for the $10bn project.

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But what do you really think?

The Australian Institute of Teacher Standards and Leadership is a big winner from the Craven Review, with Minister Pyne announcing he will “beef up AITSL” so it has the resources to re-accredit, or presumably otherwise, all teacher education providers. AITSL will also advise them on literacy and numeracy tests that teacher ed students will have to pass before they are able to graduate. This is going to make the institute as popular as Pyne among teacher education academics who like things the way they are. So it’s a stroke of luck that AITSL is running a survey right now to discover what people know about the institute and what they think about its work, so it can work out how to better serve its clients . The survey is anonymous, which makes me wonder if critical responses have rocketed since Mr Pyne released the Craven report.

Brand Australia

The Australian National University’s army of admirers are pleased that the university is the first antipodean institution that US students Google. Only a churl would wonder if this has something to do with its name rather than rep. When I googled “Australian university” after the generic information links guess which one was first.

ANU-solving

Ruffled Rod

It takes a lot to ruffle Rod Camm, but ruffled he is. The head of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training lamented the state of the training debate yesterday, particularly the way the Greens and “the media” uncritically quote claims by opponents of for-profit trainers. “Why is the private sector singled out. Surely not politics,” he laments. ‘Fraid so. The public education unions and their Green and Labor friends are mounting a ferocious campaign against private sector trainers, certainly to protect TAFE but also as a proxy in the higher education deregulation struggle. And in the fight for public opinion the comrades are winning (see next). Mr Camm proposes a joint ACPET/TAFE review to “target strategies to stem the bad practices whilst celebrating the great provision that is out there.” Dr Buckley? Ah, Mr None I presume.

Smack of firm government

Have a read of what Jon Faine asked Training Minister Simon Birmingham on Melbourne radio yesterday, “we’re pouring millions of dollars into shonky education providers to do lousy courses for people who will never get a job from them and never repay the debt. So we’re just pouring money down these people’s throats. Why not prosecute a few? The prospect of going to jail is usually a pretty strong deterrent.”

Muted trumpet

Colin Stirling is making his presence felt in understated ways as new VC at Flinders University. While the generality of new VCs take the salute at a parade of the Vice Chancellor’s guard Professor Stirling signalled he had arrived at the hermit kingdom by being quoted in a tweet. “New Flinders VC Colin Stirling highlights how students will benefit from the collaborative environment” (at its new Tonsley precinct) the university tweeter tweeted yesterday.

Where no  information is too much

The Office of Learning and Teaching operates on a very secret squirrel need to know basis so it was news to me when I heard UTS DVC Shirley Alexander is appointed to the expert panel, which advises the minister on the office’s work. She joins Monash VC Margaret Gardner, Jill Downie (DVC –Education at Curtin), Marnie Hughes-Warrington (DVC-Academic at ANU), Don Owers from the Council of Private Higher Education and University of Adelaide student, Ben Geytenbeek.

On track

The University of Melbourne is back on track to get its own railway station with the new Victorian Government’s decision to replace the scrapped East-West road tunnel with the resurrected metro rail. The proposed line will skirt the CBD and have five new stations, including one at Parkville. In contrast, before the last election Monash VC Margaret Gardner supported Labor’s promise of a new bus stop, sorry interchange, at Huntington Station which services the Clayton campus (Campus Morning Mail September 9 2014).

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