A HECS on home-loans

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has decided that HECS-HELP is to be included in the debt to income ratio for home loans.

So is buy now, pay later debt is also included.

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Dawn Gilmore (RMIT) and Chin Nguyen (Curio) set out pros and cons to make on-line learning partnerships work. This week’s excellent selection in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s celebrated series ,Needed now in learning and teaching.

plus AI in teaching and student support is imminent. Josiah Koh (Open Polytechnic NZ), Michael Cowling and Meena Jha (CQU), and Kwong Nui Sim (Auckland UT) explain what’s about to happen as learning packages create the base for educational intelligence.

with Merlin Crossley (UNSW) on research sophistication, students should not be paying all the bill.

and in Expert Opinion

Angel Calderon (RMIT) explains the new Leiden research rankings – why it’s the one the experts rate and what the new edition means for Aus unis

Josiah Koh and colleagues talk about what AI can deliver for teaching and learning and student support

Both (and all the other episodes) are HERE

Research shining bright under Leiden rights

The Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at the University of Leiden produce an annual research ranking that drills deep into the data research ranking to reveal a diversity of university performance

On collaborative publications, for example, four Aus universities are in the global top 100 – Australian Catholic U, Edith Cowan U, UWA, and Uni Southern Queensland.

In Features this morning Angel Calderon (RMIT) explains this complex and surprising ranking.

U Tas management asked staff to make their views known – they did

The university created a comments board ahead of management meeting with staff on all three campuses next week

“I am also keen to hear from you ahead of the staff sessions, about the things that are important to you right now,” Vice Chancellor Rufus Black announced.

However the board was down by the weekend, “as we have clear themes to address at our staff sessions,”  Comms Director Kate Huntington advised.

Quite clear themes – the anonymous board included scathing criticism of the university on staffing and structural issues. The most popular comment was that negotiations for a new staff agreement are “stalled”. And the considerable commentary in the “what is working” section focused on team efforts independent of management.

There was also criticism of the university’s building programme, “as a university we are more concerned with building a property portfolio and ‘flashy’ new buildings and this approaching is moving us away from the purpose of a university – to provide training and to conduct research, a “long-term academic” stated.

But what did not dominate was hostility to the relocation of much of the university in Hobart from Sandy Bay to the city – suggesting that this debate will be won or lost by Professor Black off campus.

Standby for the scheduled Legislative Council inquiry into the university’s operations.

TEQSA on cheats’ cases

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency has updated its database of academic cheating providers

There are now 2333 suspect services, including 579 specifically targeting students at Australian providers.

The agency adds that it “expects” to “take law enforcement action” against “a number of the most-visited sites, ”  “in the coming weeks.”


Picking up the pace on student visa processing


But officials warn it will take time to recruit needed staff

Sluggish processing of visas is having  a negative impact on the international education sector’s ability to rebound from borders closures (CMM 20/6/22).

Sector reps expressed serious concerns at a Friday meeting of the Education Visa Consultative Committee and were assured by Home Affairs reps that the government has issued a clear direction to recruit the staff they require to ensure student visas are prioritised.

CMM understands Home Affairs representative conceded that processing of student visas is slower than prior to the pandemic. However while recruitment has now commenced however training will take time.

Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) says “it was a crucial meeting for stakeholders. Home Affairs has been placed under some pressure from the education community and it is pleasing to hear the government has issued this direction.”

So what’s next?

According to  Mr Honeywood “the devil will be in the detail, recruiting new staff and training these up to required efficiency is obviously a step in the right direction”.

 Work Rights review

The previous government dropped all restrictions on international students work rights on January 19, meaning international students no longer needed to adhere to a 40 hour per fortnight cap – they were free to work as much as they liked.

This was meant to be reviewed in April, however the election and the government being in caretaker mode at the time prevented this occurring.

CMM understands a review of this change has now been foreshadowed with an intended workshop to take place to seek feedback on current arrangements, prior to making any decisions. This will delight the sector as it has been one policy area where there was little to no consultation prior to the change.

Folks in the know appear to favour a “phased out gradually” approach, with the likelihood of a new end point to be discussed. Perhaps increasing the old 40 hours per fortnight limit to say 60.

 Tomorrow: Visa processing numbers confirm ELICOS pain

Dirk Mulder advises education and business clients on trends in international education. He writes regularly for CMM

Clare says Job Ready Grad review part of Uni Accord

Education Minister Jason Clare says the scheduled review of the previous government’s Job Ready Graduates package will occur “as part of an overarching University Accord that we have committed to developing over the course of the next few months”

Mr Clare was speaking at Charles Darwin U, Friday.

There are widespread calls for the government to end the JRG arrangement that requires humanities students to pay an originally specified $14 500 a year for the cost of their course, while the Commonwealth contributes $ 1100. Business students are similarly slugged, while mathsnursing and foreign language students pay $3 900.

Keryn Chalmers (Swinburne U), president of the Australian Business Deans Council also wants the review to address JRG’s very blunt student progress rules, with the 50 per cent pass rate requirement, for students who access Commonwealth assistance and the incentive for universities to take fewer STEM students due to lower overall funding.’

However, undoing JRG in whole or part might be more difficult than oft assumed. “The government is in a bind on what to do about it … you can’t put Humpty Dumpty together again,” Ian Larkins says for CMM’s  Expert Opinion, episode on JRG, with him and Frank Larkins, HERE

Contested election at NTEU

There are races for the two top jobs at the National Tertiary Education Union

First term national president Alison Barnes is being challenged by Fahad Ali, a casual academic at the University of Sydney. Mr Ali is running with Anastasia Kanjere on the New NTEU ticket. Dr Kanjere (La Trobe U casual) is standing for general secretary in an open contest against the union’s NSW state secretary Damien Cahill. Current general secretary Matthew McGowan is not standing.

Dr Cahill and Dr Barnes are on a ticket with national assistant secretary Gabe Gooding.

James Cook U searching for savings

Three professional staff areas are specified

 James Cook U’s fixed costs are “an unsustainable proportion of discretionary income” VC Simon Biggs warned in April (CMM April 26).

And so, on Thursday he told staff there would be work “to identify options for savings” in  three admin areas, academic and student support, research administration, plus enabling and professional services  but it would constitute “preliminary consideration of change, in accord with the Enterprise Agreement.”

But on Friday “options” was not in a message from DVC Services Tricia Brand. While Ms Brand reiterated the process is governed by the Enterprise Agreement she reported a coordination office with a senior office, to “develop a new service delivery framework.”

International grads should stay to meet “chronic” skills shortages says Education Minister Clare

it makes sense to encourage them to stay longer”

Education Minister Jason Clare wants to increase the number of international students who stay to work in Australia after completing a degree. “We train them here. We skill them up. Where we have got skill shortages – and they are chronic across the economy at the moment – it makes sense to encourage them to stay longer,” he told Sky News yesterday,

Mr Clare also raised matching international student qualifications to local skills gaps. “There’s a lot of good work we could also do in trying to match the type of courses that international students do here with skill shortages. So, at the moment, a lot of them are studying in business and commerce. We’ve got big gaps in our economy in the health care sector. If we can match that better, the benefits for Australia will be more.”

Mr Clare also signalled he will raise increasing the number of Indian students in Australia in ministerial talks this month.

The minister was commenting following a 24 per cent drop in Chinese students commencing  with Australian universities in the first quarter, which he attributed to China’s “Covid zero” policy.

“There are local lockdowns in China that make it difficult for Chinese students to fly out here if they want to. Limited flights … you see not just a drop in Chinese students coming to Australia, but the same drop for the UK and the US.”

Dirk Mulder reports in CMM that Chinese student commencements in March were 28  per cent down on 2021 and 50 per cent on 2019. (Remembering that in 2021 students studying remotely from their home country could be issued visas) (CMM June 16).

Appointments, achievements

Anna Grocholsky joins the Heart Research Institute next month as inaugural director of commercialisation. She moves from a similar role at Macquarie U

Andy Hogg (ANU) is inaugural director of the new Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator.

Tara Murphy (Uni Sydney) becomes the Australia Telescope National Facility steering committee chair.

In January Janine O’Flynn will become director of ANU’s Crawford  School of Public Policy. Sbe is now at the Australia and New Zealand School of Government