The week that was: big issues bound to be bigger

Demand driven funding may be gone but it isn’t forgotten – the week began with reports of the University of the Sunshine Coast telling its community it would have to cut students in some courses, just not the ones that the government has given them preferential funding to pay for. And then policy people at the National Tertiary Education Union outlined the three lose, lose, lose funding options universities have now DDF is gone.

It seems the result will be a return to the bad old days of unmet demand. It will also be hard for research funding. The Australian Bureau of Statistics announced that fewer grants mean universities are funding more research from general funds, which must mean Commonwealth Grant Scheme money for undergraduate places .

The government’s still to be announced policy of making universities perform for new undergrad places was also on the radar, with Education Minister Simon Birmingham  justifying universities competing for places, “hardly novel, hardly draconian, hardly shocking,” he said.

There was also another  federal government VET system fail, not, admittedly, as big as VET FEE HELP. This one, for an apprentice management system, cost a mere $24m.

And then there were the first shots in a new culture war, with the ANU branch of the NTEU asking VC Brian Schmidt for assurances before partnering with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation ( CMM Wednesday). Recognising a free kick, when they see one, ministers Simon Birmingham and Josh Frydenberg weighed in on the issue (CMM this morning).

When it comes to good weeks Geordie Williamson had a beaut. The University of Sydney mathematician became a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, becoming its youngest living fellow. A couple of weeks back he was also named the youngest live fellow of the Royal Society, not the royal society for this or that, your actual, founded in 1660 century, Royal Society.

But VU management might be glad it’s Friday. On Tuesday, the university enjoyed a  good response to its plan for “culturally inclusive” education. However on Thursday the Victoria Auditor General’ Office warned it could face long-term financial stability issues and should assess the relevance and financial sustainability of their current course offerings.” And this is before the government’s perform-for-new-places kicks in.

Big issues all and bound to be bigger.


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