Queensland budget: even smarter state

Plus China exports IT training to Aus and Tuckwell scholars-elite from all over

Dead serious

CMM’s Grim reaper writer reports research that emergency nurses are confronted by death, which can make them think anxiously about their own mortality. The details are in the new issue of Emergency Nurse journal, but you get the idea.

HEEF before EIF

Parliamentary Secretary Scott Ryan was working straight out of the Chris Pyne playbook yesterday when he launched Swinburne’s swish new Advanced Manufacturing and Design Centre. Minister Pyne loves to talk about Bob Menzies as the father of Australia’s modern higher education system and how the Coalition is the true friend of universities. Senator Ryan made the same point by telling his audience he called Peter Costello yesterday to tell the former treasurer he was on his way to open a building built with money from the Howard Government’s Higher Education Endowment Fund, established in the 2007 boom year budget. The first Rudd Government closed the HEEF and opened its own equivalent, the Education Investment Fund soon after but Senator Ryan wants to claim the credit for where the money first came from. An observer with a precise stunt meter at the launch says the senator spoke so insistently that the phone call was surely real not rhetorical.

ANU June 2

Data debated

A new report from the HILDA household panel survey is imminent, including expanded information on graduate income. This can be controversial, with HILDA last year indicating that Group of Eight graduates and those of Australian Technology Network members have similar high employment prospects. While grads from both groups do better than those of other institutions, the Eight’s; are not ahead of the ATN. The new HILDA data extends this debate with new information on graduate income, which is not universally accepted. According to Group of Eight Executive Director Vicki Thomson the results are “skewed.”

“We do understand that analysis in this summary report is not exhaustive … and that further and more detailed analysis is required to address the shortcomings identified. However that does not assist us in dealing with the report’s conclusion,” she told CMM last night.

Even smarter state

People in the Queensland Government could not keep all the good state budget bits quiet yesterday with winners congratulating Treasurer Curtis Pitt before he stood up in parliament. Private training providers welcomed a $140m boost to VOCED, taking overall spending to $754m. According to Australian Council for Private Education and Training chief Rod Camm, the budget delivers “a balanced approach to funding between public and private providers.” And Vice Chancellor Peter Coaldrake was very pleased with the $180m Advance Queensland programme, which will fund researchers, plus a start-up partnership between his QUT and the Johnson and Johnson pharmaceutical company. The Queensland budget strategy builds on the foundation of Peter Beattie’s Smart State scheme, and is taking research from benchtop to business.

Not stopped in their tracks

The Sydney University push for a new rail line to have a campus stop (CMM July 3) is getting social media serious. There is a new Buzzfeed “12 reasons why” the university needs a better train connection, (I mean, the major station at Redfern is 20 minutes walk!). They are all standard stuff, which supporters of the alternative route (demand, convenience and etc), will use as well. Except reason number six, “no offence intended, but Macquarie Uni has one”. CMM suspects Macquarie students who commute to campus by rail will not even notice the sneer.

mindhive 2

Elite from all over

ANU announced the 2016 Tuckwell Scholars yesterday, students who will receive a $21 700 annual stipend for the duration of their undergraduate degree, funded by a $50m bequest from Graham and Louise Tuckwell. The gender split is 60 per cent male 40 per cent female. The split between public and private schools is the same, but with a fair mix of people from average state and private schools mingling with people from rich non-government and selective state high schools. This cheers CMM up, the wider the access to merit based educational opportunity the better.

Inflated estimates

“Thank goodness Training Minister Simon Birmingham is preventing shonky marketing to potentially vulnerable learners,” an expert reader says after taking a good look at the My Skills training website. In particular the reader points to middle income salaries supposedly secured by Certificate One courses in a range of trades. “The certificates at best are pre-vocational, usually offered in schools if offered at all, and would not lead directly to employment and certainly not these salary levels,” the reader remarks.

Neither does the site match its promise as a vehicle for prospective students, written for bureaucrats instead of school leavers. There is a mass of information here but while the site is navigable this does not make it intelligible for the target market.

UoQ

Drillling down

The Australian Institute of Geoscientists wants people in the profession to  report on their employment status, although it is bracing for a worrying result. There was an employment uplift in third quarter 2014, but it did not last, “setting the scene for another difficult year.” I wonder what minex academics are going to say to prospective students at open days.

Two way trade

Training Minister Birmingham is in China talking about voced opportunities. Of which there should be a bunch – there are now 35 000 people in China studying Australian vocational courses, which is less average than ordinary given the 10 million people in China’s training system. But free trade in education works both ways and Senator Birmingham also visited IT giant Huawei in Beijing yesterday, for its announcement of a $30m training centre in Sydney. Yes a Chinese corporation wants to train Australian students in IT rather than the other way around. “Impressive & visionary Huawei technology in Beijing, being shared through their investment in training Australians,” Senator Birmingham said last night. Anybody who assumes that we are going to have an indefinite edge in IT education and training should think again.

CEF1 June 15

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