UNSW tells the world where it is

The university’s new branding sells on Sydney

 plus On the hunt for medical education in the regions

So it begins – first budget submissions released

and Regulators meet the test: ASQA and TESQA report consumers satisfied

Early enthusiasm

The first entry for the week’s overblown enthusiasm award goes to the Tweeter who announced, “excitement is building,” referring to a Walter and Eliza Hall Institute childhood education and care centre, which won’t be finished for a year. Unless of course the tweeter is a big civil engineering admirer.

And the winner is Sydney!

The University of New South Wales has changed its branding again. What once was just UNSW became UNSW Australia a while back and has now become, presumably for the geographically challenged, UNSW Sydney.

The new name is already on some on-line livery but by no means all, which maybe due to its unpopularity with staff who say they do not need to be reminded where they work to find their way to campus everyday. But unit heads who want to stick with the old name don’t have much to worry about as yet. “Our logo represents decades of brand equity and has been subtly updated and enhanced over the years. The logo is not to be altered in any way,” the marketers warn – referring to the old one.

It could be worse, at least the marketers did not decide on Eastern Sydney U, to distinguish it from Western Sydney U. But CMM wonders what the University of Sydney thinks of a name that could lead to people confusing the quite separate institutions at Kensington and Camperdown.

UNSW Sydney might also be in the market for a new slogan, now that the one adopted in the Fred Hilmer era has disappeared. This is a shame, “never stand still” was spot on for UNSW – when a university stops moving some marketer comes along and changes it’s name.

UTS unfazed

Back in August UTS and digital film studio Animal Logic announced a year-long masters in animation and visualisation. For $45 000 graduates will acquire skills in animation, software development, data visualisation and science,” (CMM August 6). The programme launched this week with 19 students, which UTS says is what they expected given the short lead-time between announcement and commencement.

On the hunt for regional med schools

The University of the Sunshine Coast wants to offer a bachelor of medical science articulating to a med school based at the region’s soon to open Himalayan-high-tech hospital. But it can’t. For want of 15 training places there which the feds refuse to fund, the new hospital will not have teaching places. (CMM November 15). Charles Sturt and La Trobe universities also want a med school of their own, to serve south east NSW/north east Victoria, but the feds have similarly said nothing doing, in this case for years. So new health minister Greg Hunt can expect delegations from supporters of both proposals in his waiting room before long, particularly as it turns out he is quite keen on expanding medical education.

Mr Hunt was across the Monash U plan to create a medical precinct at its Peninsula campus, which is in his electorate of Flinders, long before his appointment as health minister. Monash has committed $20m over four years to a new chair of medicine plus research centres in aged care, disability and injury there, (CMM September 27).

No, it’s not a medical school but it is about expanding access to healthcare to under-serviced regions, which is what the MDMS and Sunshine Coast cases are about. The feds current inquiry into medical school numbers points out there is a looming surplus of doctors but as assistant minister for rural health David Gillespie  puts it; “at key points in their training and development, the structure of the training system and a lack of advanced regional, rural and remote positions tend to force new doctors back to the cities, where they often settle.”

Which is rather the point people who want new regional medical schools will make.

Still in the service

A year back Matthew McGowan, announced he would finish up as deputy secretary at the National Tertiary Education Union in October (CMM February 10 . He just didn’t say October which year because he is still with the union. “We’ve got a bit on a plate at the moment so I’ve agreed to stay on for a bit,” he says. Given the possibility of a tough enterprise bargaining round this year (negotiations underway at the West Australian public universities certainly are) the union needs experienced hands.

University isn’t the problem

The University of New South Sydney, sorry Wales (see above) says it is on track for 30 per cent of engineering undergraduates to be women by 2030. Some 25 per cent of school leaver offers this year are to females. Good-o but the problem for engineering is that women like the study but not the practise. A federal government report a few years back found there were 20 000 women engineering professionals in 1993 and 36 500 20 years later, but the number of women working in the profession declined over the two decades by 0.7 per cent, to a bare tenth of the profession’s workforce. Reasons why included gender based pay gaps, not enough part-time work or flexible hours – and “persistence of gendered roles and expectations by managers and colleagues,” (CMM July 30 2014).

Show us the money: budget submissions begin

The long march to budget night begins with the first submissions by major lobby groups.

Innovative Research Universities

The IRU calls for more money to support the existing teaching and research systems, plus an expansion of the demand driven system to cover now capped sub degree programmes.

Above all, it argues, demand driven funding should continue; “the long-terms benefits of the demand driven system in ensuring the future capability of the workforce outweigh the modest, additional annual expenditure from growth in places. The challenge lies in ensuring the competition for students does not drive some institutions to failure.”

To provide universities with more money the IRU suggests replacing the three levels of fees students now pay, depending on courses, with one contribution, “set no higher than the highest current maximum.”

“Student payments should reflect the value of acquiring a degree. Currently there are three maximum student contribution amounts so that students pay more for a unit of accounting than for a unit of engineering than for a unit of psychology. Different government contributions per discipline should reflect the likely difference in cost by disciplines.”

NTEU

The National Tertiary Education Union’s budget submission is based on a new centralised policy system.  The union points to the “complete and utter failure of the market driven approach to the funding and regulation of VET” and calls for a “funding and regulatory framework designed to mitigate the risks of a market driven approach, without losing the flexibility and capacity to respond to changing circumstances.” Instead of the “chaos” of the market the union proposes an independent agency with planning and funding responsibilities which would negotiate enrolments with each university under a soft cap system. This “would take into account not only the capacity of the system to provide all students with a high quality educational experience, but also ensure that they graduate with the appropriate skills to make them employable.”

The union also proposes expanding the demand driven system to sub-degree places provided by public institutions, and reviewing Commonwealth contributions to student places per funding bands, However, it is adamantly against hiking fees. “The best and most obvious way to ensure the financial sustainability of the HELP scheme is to limit the level of fees students are charged. Lower fees reduce average HELP debts. The lower the average HELP debt, the lower the proportion of that debt that may not be repaid. This would significantly lower the costs to the Budget of operating HELP,” the submission states.

The NTEU also supports providing course information to prospective students but has “serious concerns about the inclusion of any subjective information such as student and/or employer satisfaction surveys.”

Consumer satisfaction

The higher education community has given TEQSA a tick in a Commonwealth-required performance survey. Some 80 per cent of respondents rated the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency’s performance as good or excellent. However just 60 per cent of principal contacts at higher education providers thought the agency’s regulatory actions were “proportionate to the risk.” Nor was the agency universally admired for the way it provides information, especially on how to make an application.

The agency also needs to lift case management to meet provider expectations. “Many providers appear to want a strong and frequent relationship with their case manager. Downsizing in this area has concerned some providers as some want considerably more personal attention, particularly more site visits, so that TEQSA can understand a provider’s context and particular characteristics,” the survey report states.

Overall consumer response sets a high standard for the agency to match in the next survey, which will cover some of the first year of the extensive and expansive provider framework, introduced this month.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority has also announced that audited providers surveyed are “satisfied” with its processes, from mid 2015 to last June. “70.9 per cent of stakeholders indicated that the contribution of ASQA’s work to the quality of Australia’s VET and ELICOS providers was ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ and 79.2 per cent of providers indicated that the contribution of ASQA’s work was ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, ” ASQA states.

This will surely be a great source of comfort to ministers as they survey the ruins of the failed VET FEE HELP scheme.

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