Migrants, not students off to the country

Population Minister Alan Tudge set out the government’s thinking on sending migrants to the regions yesterday. That’s migrants, not students on study visas. Prime Minister Morrison’s idea that they should study at unis outside Sydney and Melbourne was not mentioned (CMM September 20).  Education Minister Dan Tehan will not raise it either in his address today to the international education conference (below).

Deakin sets out the cost of study

While the generality of university recruiting is big on the unspecified return on investment degrees deliver it often does not detail what course repayments take out pay packets . But Deakin U does – a learned reader points to postgraduate course guides which include FEE HELP loan repayments. Inquirers  enter their income and pay-period to see what they are up for.

It may or may not, make the cost of the course commitment look worth it, but it certainly demonstrates Deakin U wants people to understand the financial commitment. A great way to build trust in the brand.

No push to the bush for international students

Education Minister Dan Tehan wants the international education industry to consider how international students “can have experiences of engaging with our regions.” “I encourage you all to think about how we can achieve this,” he will say in his speech to the International Education Association of Australia this morning.

“As a rural member of parliament, I want regional Australia to be a greater part of the international education story.

“I want the international student cohort who come to Australia to have the opportunity to experience a different Australia – to live and study in our regions, to see the bush, to meet people from rural, regional and remote parts of the country and to build friendships.

However, Mr Tehan will not present policy specifics on how to expand the number of international students attending regional universities.

In a wide-ranging address, the minister will set out the economic and social benefits Australia enjoys from the now $32bn international education sector. And he will detail overseas students’ satisfaction with their Australian experience, citing new survey data showing 89 per cent of university students and 87 per cent VET students are satisfied with their overall study experience here.

However, in a carefully calibrated remark, he will also call on the industry, “to promote our education sector to the rest of AustraliaAustralians should be proud of our international education system and understand the benefits to everyone.”

Getting postgrads into industry

University and industry groups agree that postgrad placements are good for student career options and solve business problems. But after the agreeing often comes the nothing – because neither side has a clue how the other works.

Which is why the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Council of Graduate Research have combined to publish how-to guides on industry placements  for both sides.

Capacity over quals

The TAFE Directors group reports Canadian skills expert Stephen Murgatroyd telling a Melbourne conference it is hosting that, “employers are not interested in diplomas and degrees, they are actually interested in what people do.”  This is probably why subject-only training enrolments are booming – up 19.3 per cent across 2016-17 (CMM August 1). However, it may not be the best news TAFEs with business models based on people completing certs and dips, rather than picking up a specific skill whenever they need.

World Bank’s mother of all education rankings

International education researchers convened ahead of today’s industry conference to hear from the World Bank’s Francisco Marmolejo. A learned reader says Mr Marmolejo introduced the int ed experts, to the bank’s Human Capital Index, which launches this week.

The index includes three criteria, children surviving to working age, their years of schooling, and their health. Apparently the sum of the three will be the “productivity of future workers relative to a benchmark of completing education and full health.”  “It’s the mother of all education rankings and will certainly be a hit with treasury mandarins looking for a league table where Australia does really well. It isn’t just vice chancellors who fixate on rankings,” the LR remarks


Now for the hard part in uni access

Curtin U’s research powerhouse on equity in higher education has analysed 14 recent reports to identify core issues. “As change in higher education unfolds rapidly, we need to ensure that equity issues are understood, communicated and incorporated into change processes,” the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education states. Key questions the centre puts on the agenda include;

* “it’s possible that the easy gains in raising participation by equity students have been achieved; marginal improvements may be harder to win.

* “as governments experience ‘budgetary stress’ with greater competition for public expenditure at a time of pressure to reduce government spending, the positive case for equity in higher education may come under pressure.

* “in a more diverse, fragmented and changing environment for skills, there may be a stronger case for a more market-oriented framework to better align the demand for skills from employers with the supply of skills from educational institutions.

* “this consumer-centric approach to skills may point towards supporting individuals rather than equity groups through, for example, individual learning accounts, possibly accompanied by quality careers and employment advice.”

Union warns Flinders will lose qualified, dedicated staff

At Flinders U the National Tertiary Education Union is digging in against management’s academic staff (CMM October 2 ) restructure, warning it, “will lead to further chaos, despair, and loss of knowledge and efficiencies.”

The union takes issue with management requiring staff in teaching-research positions to apply for teaching-only roles, which they may not get. The union says it is “not opposed” to a “properly constructed” teaching-specialist scheme but staff need to “willingly transition” to new roles. Plus, the present plan “is not process compliant with the university’s job security obligations.”

“This plan will result in mass forced departures of highly qualified, dedicated staff, and they will take with them a depth of knowledge that cannot be readily replaced,” union state secretary Ron Slee says.

In a seperate matter, Flinders has been in the Fair Work Commission for an unfair dismissal  case brought by Level C psychology lecturer Robert Lynd-Stevenson. The included university concerns with Dr Lynd-Stevenson’s research productivity.  Commissioner Peter Hampton concluded rather than sack him, demoting Dr Lynd-Stevenson to a Level B role would have been “a reasonable and proportionate response”  and “the consequential dismissal” was harsh. However the Commission did not order the university to reinstate Dr Lynd-Stevenson, awarding him the 26 weeks pay, the maximum allowed under the act in this circumstance.

Humanities needed to harden up soft-power

Australia’s capacity to project soft-power is reduced by a failure to, “build language and cultural capabilities,” the Australian Academy of the Humanities warns in a submission to a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade inquiry.

“While the emphasis is always on visits and exchanges and collaborations, this will only go so far if future generations do not have the language proficiency to communicate in the region. If soft power is to be seen as a long-term aim, language proficiency in Asian and non-Asian languages needs to remain a focus in schools and universities.”

The Academy also warns that humanities and social science scholars are, “a pool of international collaborators who are generally overlooked in their role in disseminating ‘soft power’ through a range of organisations and institutions both within and outside of the higher education sector. These experts, and their networks, are a rich resource that should be recognised and more effectively utilised by government.”

“Australia needs to urgently review its soft power capabilities and whether they are sufficient to meet its aspirations,” AAH argues.