What’s on the menu

“Kicking off the La Trobe Uni Food Truck. Come visit for a student combo deal.” Twitter, yesterday. “Do you want fries with that arts-student wrap?”

There’s more in the Mail

in Features today David Myton looks at a new plan to produce polymath students.

But wait, there’s more from Deakin U biz ed

Competition in the business education accreditation market picks up, with Deakin U announcing a deal with the Institute of Management and Leaders ANZ (the Australian Institute of Management as was).  The university will “embed” chartered manager designation in its MBA and MBA healthcare management programmes. Graduates will also get a level seven diploma in strategic management and leadership from the UK Chartered Management Institute.

According to the IML, “chartered manager,” is “the highest status that can be achieved as a manager and leader,” it offers “the professional qualification” through its partnership with the CMI.

Last year Griffith U MBA graduates were given chartered manager status, extended last month to Griffith M Bus grads, in an arrangement with IML (CMM February 12).

Swinburne U starts on bespoke spares

Swinburne U and partners have 3-D printed a replacement lug for a vehicle headlight. This is a big deal indeed, pointing to a customised future for parts and an upskilling path for the auto-repair workforce. The project is part of a project involving Swinburne,” manufacturing tech start-up Tradiebot and the Innovative Manufacturing CRC, (CMM February 20 2018).

Swinburne U is big on Industry 4.0 “transformative technologies” and its DVC R Aleksandar Subic leads the feds’ six-uni testlab programme, (CMM January 16)

Business as usual with VET starts down

Apprentice and trainee starts were down, again in the September quarter.  The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education Research reports news that isn’t good and news that isn’t good at all. Year on year totals in September were down by 0.6 per cent. But third quarter starts in 2018 were down 5 per cent on third quarter 2017. Completions were also down in September, as the result of previous year declines flowed through.

Big drops in third quarter ’18 starts were in technician and trade starts, down 14 per cent and construction, which were down 11 per cent.

HELP debtors up for $61.9 bn

There is a heap of HELP debt out there. According to the Department of Education and Training some 2.8m people owe $61.9bn, total loans over the scheme’s life are $80bn.

It’s enough to encourage people pleased when the government cancelled the demand driven system. But not a detail to deter supporters who expect DDS back if Labor wins the election.

For a start, if the past is a predictor people repay; in 2008-09 1m people repaid their study debt in full, rising to 1.67m by 2017-18.  Sure, debtors are taking longer, perhaps because of course costs and maybe due to the impact of the GFC on starting salaries – but the payback period has not super-stretched. In 2007-08 it took debtors 7.64 years to pay their debt off in full, increasing to 9.08 yrs in 17-’18. Yes, the Commonwealth wrote-off $100m worth of debt last year but no, the demand driven system did not lead to vast numbers of students taking on debts they could never pay. In 2010-11 $58m in debts were written off, against total incurred debt of $30bn but last year $102m was written off, against $80bn in total debt.

As for alleged DDF outrages two and three; last year there were just 20 000 people with a HELP debt of $135 000 or more. And as for all the opportunists swanning off overseas and thus being able to duck their debt there are around 10 000 – not last year, ever. And the biggest proportion owe $2000 or less.

Gender imbalance at Macquarie U

“Professor Sakie Pretorius, DVC Research, welcomes the crowd to the Macquarie UWomen Shaping the Future Gender Equity Week symposium’” – MU announcement yesterday. Given the university’s message is “you can get the balance right” it must have been a bit of bad luck that there was only a bloke to host.

The miraculous power of the uni logo

A community outrageathon led to Charles Sturt U abandoning its plan to drop the Charles and become Sturt U last month (CMM February 19). But management is still intent on tinkering, pressing on with plans to change logo and livery, as well as marketing. Staff meetings on how to do it are scheduled. “We are really excited to renew the way we look and how we communicate,” DVC Jenny Roberts says.

How changing the former will improve the latter eludes CMM, but logos have a powerful hold on university leaders.

A learned reader from across the ditch points to a change in presentation of Victoria University of Wellington. The university wants to root its identity in where it actually is, by dropping Victoria, But the plan failed when the minister of education knocked it back after, you guessed it, a community appalladom.

Now, VUW has a new look on-line, the established Maori name, which was also set to change is gone and “of” is deleted, so the institution is now titled over three decks, Victoria University Wellington.

That should fix everything.

Tojours la politesse

The expertise of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering extends to diplomacy.

Yesterday ATSE reported its review of two scientific reports on the Menindee Lakes fish kills this summer. Agriculture Minister David Littleproud commissioned one from river scientists and the Labor Opposition the other, from members of the Australian Academy of Science.

The ATSE says they “have a very high level of agreement, demonstrating the quality of the science underpinning both.”

This is in-line, with what the Academy of Science experts think, “there is good agreement across the two reports.”

But not Mr Littleproud, who originally suggested the Academy of Science, “seems to have done the Labor Party’s bidding.” (CMM February 29). You don’t need a learned academy to get how dumb that was, especially in contrast to the scientists’ good manners.

No fair go for international students on public transport

Peak postgrad student association CAPA, and 12 NSW university student rep groups, are calling on the NSW government to extend concession fares to international students. The coalition suggests this would be a way to increase, “the cohort’s satisfaction with their experience of international education in Australia.”

It isn’t going to happen, whoever is transport minister after the imminent election. So perhaps CAPA and allies could ask the five Sydney universities which collect $2bn in international fees and are serviced by public transport, to discount them by the difference between full and concession fares.  No harm, apart from disappointment, in trying.


James Giggacher is returning to ANU to manager the media team. He now is a hack –wrangler for Universities Australia.

Western Sydney U reports Board of Trustees member Carmel Hourigan is now deputy chancellor. BoT member Christopher Brown becomes pro chancellor. Peter Shergold continues as chancellor until next year.