And about time too

A learned reader advises that the 2016 full year student data will be (finally released) this morning. “Perhaps the minister needed to vet each and every university for dual-citizenship status,” the reader suggests.

Paradise papers

Charles Sturt University and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre have a new course on “identifying money laundering/terrorism financing patterns, trends, and risks.” There are 80 people from the private sector and law enforcement down for the first five sessions of the two-week course. Makes a change to hoping bank managers notice who was driving the pantechnicon loaded with money deposited one day and withdrawn the next.

Must try harder

“I welcome the work some universities have done to bring the attrition rate down by .03 of a percentage point but more needs to be done,” Education Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday (attrition rates below).

Australia strong in international ed while US peaks

For the second-year ever the United States has more than one million international students at its universities and colleges, with a record 1.08 internationals there now. This sounds a lot, but not really, compared to the 730 000 students from overseas enrolled in Australia’s much smaller education system in September. New Australian government figures announced today show 30 per cent of them come from China, with second-place India providing 11 per cent. There are some 56 000 Chinese students at Australian universities.

To help keep international education growing the feds will publish guidelines today for $3m split into $250 000 grants, “to deliver big picture projects that develop Australia’s role as a global leader in education, training and research.”   The Department of Education and Training says the sort of projects it will support include; sector strategies, research that fills critical sector-wide knowledge and data gaps, and  “innovative or new modes of delivery.” But if there are conferences you want to go to, forget it. (Details here ).

As for the US, this might be as good as it will get for a while. A learned reader reports US figures also show a 3 per cent drop in commencements.

Tardis Tracy

Tracy Chalk is coming home to become chief marketing officer at the University of Newcastle.  She is now comms director at the University of the West of England. She was marketing director at ANU from 2009 to February 2016.

Not only does she know about comms she can also travel through time. UniNewcastle VC Caroline McMillen tells staff via email that Ms Chalk will start work “in early 2017”.

“Peter, will you accept this doggy biscuit?”

The big question of the year (at least now we know who the bachelorette picked) is closer to an answer with a short-list for the next Bondi-vet.  In good news for Murdoch U (and how often do you read that?) on-staff vet Peter Ricci is one of the final four.

TEQSA shows universities in the money

The university system remains in the money, with a median net surplus of 4.6 per cent in 2016, down on 5.9 per cent in 2015. According to a new analysis by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency, seven universities were in deficit last year, five of which also made losses in 2015, but the rest were cashed up.  Universities used profits to expand assets, rather than merely maintain them.

All up the feds funded 47 per cent of university revenues, ahead of domestic students (25 per cent) and internationals (19 per cent).

Despite allegations of declining public support, government funding for all segments of post-school education rose from $32 395m in 2014 to $35 282m in 2016. However overall government funding did decline as a per centage of total income, down from 45 per cent in 2014 to 41 per cent in 2016.

There is a great deal of detail in the TEQSA report, notably about new private providers and the comparative performance of universities which would be very interesting, if institutions were identified. Which they are not.  TEQSA states, “for many providers, financial data is commercial-in-confidence; therefor information in this report has been presented in an de-aggregated, de-identified manner.”  This is a polite, if outrageous way of telling taxpayers that they cannot know what institutions do with $35bn of taxpayer money.

But not to worry says a learned reader whose idea of decadence is combing university financials, the Department of Education and Training will report on institutional outcomes soon.

More clever kit at Swinburne U

They’re keen on high-tech toys at Swinburne University, taking delivery of a new HP 3D printer, which gives it the equivalent capacity of “professional prototyping labs.” Last month Siemens gifted the university $135m in software that simulates manufacturing process for teaching and research CMM August 15). The HP printer looks like another win for DVC R Aleksandar Subic’s 4th plan to position Swinburne’s graduates as fourth industrial revolution ready.

Big business degrees at BrisVegas three

The Graduate Management Association of Australia  ranking is out and MBAs at six universities are emblazoned with five stars. They are (in alphabetical order the GMAA is at pains to state), Griffith U, QUT (for both executive MBA and ordinary MBA), University of Adelaide, University of Queensland, University of South Australia and University of Wollongong.  It’s a big win for the BrisVegas three, providing four of the seven five star courses.

Shipbuilding college set to sail

The successful tender to run the Naval Shipbuilding College will be announced mid December – which is good as the college is set to sail on New Year’s Day. Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne confirmed the dates yesterday in an Adelaide speech.

The college will start with a $25m commitment from the feds, will have a hub at the Osborne ship yard in Adelaide and spokes at universities and colleges across the country. “It will attract, train and re-train more than 1,500 students across Australia in its first few years,” Mr Pyne said in October (CMM October 5).

Birmingham: universities have questions to answer on attrition

Attrition rates at Australia’s universities slipped just two per cent under the demand driven system, according to new figures from the Commonwealth Department of Education. Using a “new attrition rate” the federal figures show undergraduate attrition for all providers at 12.94 per cent in 2010 and 14.97 per cent in 2015, a 0.3 per cent improvement on 2014 but close to the lowest number for a decade.

According to Education Minister Simon Birmingham, “Australia’s universities need to be taking responsibility for the students they enrol… Too many students clearly aren’t getting the support they need to succeed.”

Senator Birmingham added, “A small group of universities have shown a disproportionate increase in attrition over the last few years at the same time as they’ve boosted their enrolments. Those universities have questions to answer.”

And he said that the figures make the case for his proposed performance metrics, which are set out in legislation now blocked by Senate opposition;

““This data reinforces the need for the performance funding reforms the Turnbull Government has proposed.

Performance funding would put student outcomes at the centre of learning. Retention, completion, student satisfaction and getting a job should be key to the mission of our higher education institutions. We should be willing to ask those universities to account for their performance and to take steps to improve the results that they achieve and to be accountable for the record funding that they’re receiving.”

New attrition stats: where students stay and where they leave

The national figures do not demonstrate the significant differences that exist between institutions;

In NSW, the University of New South Wales had a 4.51 per cent attrition rate in 2015 compared to the University of New England’s 25.12 per cent.

In Victoria, the range was from  3.92 per cent (University of Melbourne) to 23.6 per cent at Swinburne. In Queensland, Bond U (7.81 per cent) and UoQ (8.71 per cent) had the lowest figures and the University of Southern Queensland (23.98 per cent) the highest.

In Western Australia, UWA lost 7.23 per cent of students compared to Edith Cowan where the attrition rate was 21.87 per cent.

In South Australia attrition at the public providers was; 10.79 per cent at the University of Adelaide, 15.51 per cent at UniSA and 16.42 per cent at Flinders. Private provider Torrens University recorded an inaugural attrition rate of 38 per cent.

The University of Tasmania had a 33.64 per cent rate, while the Northern Territory’s Charles Darwin’s was 26.08 per cent

The Australian National University had a 7.06 per cent attrition rate, with the University of Canberra at19.06 per cent.

The multi-state Australian Catholic University’s attrition rate was 13.6 per cent.

Overall Group of Eight Universities had the lowest attrition rates, with the University of Melbourne and the universities of Sydney and NSW showing the least losses.

# The Department of Education and Training explains these numbers as: New Adjusted Attrition rate for year(x) is the proportion of students who commenced a course in year(x) who neither complete in year(x) or year(x + 1) nor return in year(x + 1). … For the new adjusted attrition rate, it is only those students who left the higher education system entirely (that is, they were no longer at any institution) that are counted as attrited.


State/Higher Education Institution
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
National Total 12.94 12.66 13.26 14.65 15.00 14.97
Table A Providers 12.99 12.68 13.30 14.70 15.07 15.03
Table B Providers 10.27 11.59 10.49 10.91 10.01 10.42
New South Wales            
Charles Sturt University 20.80 20.43 19.89 21.32 22.77 22.44
Macquarie University 9.30 8.98 9.69 8.88 9.67 8.18
Southern Cross University 20.51 22.00 23.87 23.29 24.07 23.64
The University of New England 20.14 20.42 21.33 21.85 22.40 25.12
The University of Newcastle 13.28 13.67 13.66 14.50 14.54 15.30
The University of Sydney 5.37 5.20 5.42 6.04 5.88 5.69
University of New South Wales(c) 5.62 5.16 4.79 5.28 4.77 4.51
University of Technology, Sydney 7.16 6.82 6.73 7.71 7.39 7.29
University of Wollongong 9.30 9.70 9.53 10.45 10.63 11.11
Western Sydney University 11.36 11.82 12.60 12.41 13.87 14.26
State Total 11.58 11.50 11.69 12.13 12.52 12.69
Deakin University 10.13 11.31 11.65 13.28 14.41 14.66
Federation University Australia(d) 16.01 17.16 19.02 21.29 22.75 21.28
La Trobe University 13.04 11.75 11.39 11.78 11.43 13.52
Monash University 7.55 6.74 6.41 7.29 6.19 6.54
RMIT University 10.56 10.29 10.22 9.62 10.30 10.07
Swinburne University of Technology 12.80 13.72 21.54 28.04 24.54 23.60
The University of Melbourne 4.35 4.32 3.69 4.27 3.50 3.92
University of Divinity 27.38 30.95 20.87 24.10 16.49 9.88
Victoria University 16.94 14.98 17.99 20.46 19.15 19.11
State Total 10.80 10.44 11.75 13.96 13.38 13.67
Bond University 8.45 10.25 9.94 10.89 10.62 7.81
CQUniversity 25.29 26.96 25.34 24.87 23.36 22.46
Griffith University 16.10 14.52 15.09 15.74 15.81 17.04
James Cook University 19.21 19.00 20.50 18.05 18.89 17.59
Queensland University of Technology 11.82 11.10 10.87 11.68 11.99 10.83
The University of Queensland 9.45 8.20 8.60 9.47 9.90 8.71
University of Southern Queensland 24.10 22.95 24.04 24.68 22.14 23.98
University of the Sunshine Coast 20.10 21.07 21.37 22.01 20.12 22.87
State Total 15.60 14.92 15.25 15.67 15.59 15.72
Western Australia            
Curtin University of Technology 13.46 12.94 14.58 14.12 13.97 16.34
Edith Cowan University 17.96 18.44 18.49 21.57 20.81 21.87
Murdoch University 17.41 16.88 18.55 21.17 18.09 19.26
The University of Notre Dame Australia 10.40 11.44 10.20 10.50 9.57 10.63
The University of Western Australia 7.15 7.14 6.56 6.85 7.67 7.23
State Total 13.66 13.54 14.07 15.15 14.58 16.05
South Australia            
Flinders University 15.06 14.73 15.58 17.19 17.14 16.42
The University of Adelaide 10.26 10.63 12.26 10.33 11.42 10.79
Torrens University Australia(e) . . . . . 38.00
University of South Australia 14.86 16.57 15.54 16.35 16.10 15.51
State Total 13.51 14.16 14.52 14.79 14.98 14.38
Australian Maritime College(f) . . . . . .
University of Tasmania(f) 18.55 17.28 20.35 31.59 37.80 33.64
State Total 18.55 17.28 20.35 31.59 37.80 33.64
Northern Territory            
Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education(g) 49.18 37.12 . . . .
Charles Darwin University(g) 26.72 26.73 26.13 25.98 25.82 26.08
State Total 28.12 27.46 26.13 25.98 25.82 26.08
Australian Capital Territory            
The Australian National University 5.72 5.13 6.37 7.58 7.22 7.06
University of Canberra 15.10 14.95 14.94 17.36 17.27 19.06
State Total 11.34 10.99 11.19 13.56 13.16 13.55
Australian Catholic University 13.28 13.28 13.32 14.03 15.31 13.80
State Total 13.28 13.28 13.32 14.03 15.31 13.80