Just in from the “curses! foiled again” desk

Former education minister Dan Tehan’s attempt to discourage students studying humanities and business by hiking course costs will not have big impacts over peoples’ life-time incomes, new research co-authored by father of HECS Bruce Chapman demonstrates.

Last year Mr Tehan dropped government annual contributions per student place by a range of $1000 to $5000 but hiked student contributions from a previous range of $6000-$11000 to $14 000 (CMM June 19 2020). But it appears that arts and business students will earn more for universities, while feeling no or not much, pain over-time. (Scroll down for a report on the research).

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Merlin Crossley (UNSW) makes the case for staying in your research lane. “It makes great sense to search where you have a chance of finding something … because there is so much more to discover.”

Plus, Angel Calderon (RMIT) details (another) strong Australian result, in the new QS rankings. You can compare and contrast QS with the new Leiden research rankings which Mr Calderon reported in CMM (June 3) here.

And Pablo MungulaLauren Butterworth and Jane Habner on three ways Flinders U brings learning resources closer to students. This week’s selection by Contributing Editor Sally Kift for her celebrated series, Needed Now in Teaching and Learning.

No issue Monday

CMM is off for the NSW public holiday. Back Tuesday

NSW ready to bring international students back

What happens next is up to the feds

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says 250 per students per fortnight could arrive from mid-year, “in a gradual approach that will enable us to closely manage the process and ensure community health is not compromised.”

Mr Perrottet adds international arrivals, “won’t come at the expense of returning Aussies,” would quarantine at “specially approved” student accommodation and “at no cost to taxpayers”.

Western Sydney U VC Barney Glover welcomed the plan on behalf of the NSW Vice Chancellors committee. He nominated priority students as those in, “desperate need to progress their studies,” specifying, medicine, science, engineering, teaching, nursing and midwifery, and postgraduate research degrees.

According to a University of Sydney announcement for its international students, those “who must undertake face-to-face learning to complete their degrees will be prioritised as part of this plan.”

Uni Sydney adds, “all costs will be managed by the university sector.”

Simon Finn from Independent Higher Education Australia says “students enrolled with independent providers will be able to return to Australia as the pilot progresses.”

The plan is now with the federal government. It follows a similar proposal from the SA state government and public universities, for a student quarantine facility at Parafield Airport, in suburban Adelaide, which was quickly opposed by the local council and federal member for Makin Tony Zapia (CMM May 31, June 3 and June 4).

Mr Perrottet did not mention the location of the “purpose-built student accommodation” in NSW.

The plan was a while coming. Last September NSW jobs and tourism minister, Stuart Roberts said lessons learnt from quarantining international arrivals meant the state could re-open “our international student markets sooner rather than later” (CMM September 24).

With props from SA and NSW there are now two balls in national education minister Alan Tudge’s court. Perhaps three, ANU’s chancellor Julie Bishop says, “we have a student return programme that would work. I am yet to convince my former colleagues in Canberra that it will work,” (CMM, yesterday).

Mr Tudge responded to the Perrottet proposal yesterday, saying it met the government’s criteria. However, and it was an “however” of Himalayan height, he added, “we will work through the details carefully. We are keen to see international students return to Australia, but we don’t want to risk further COVID outbreaks in Australia.”

Vic uni performances worth reviewing

The Victorian Auditor General’s Office announces its forward plan, including a performance audit of “school management of international students” in 2023-24. They could have saved time by doing it now. It would not take long to ask them all individually.

But VAGO does not appear interested at all in the performance of the state’s public universities, which is a shame, given the absence in their annual reports of consistent information on one key performance issue – how many staff they retrenched last year. (James Guthrie and Brendan O’Connell tried to work it out in CMM, here.

Less faint than no price signals on what students pay

The federal government’s new fees will not cost business and humanities degrees out of the undergraduate market

“The true price changes are far less than they appear to be, highlighting the potential of there being quite muted or even zero consequences for student discipline choices,” father of HECS Bruce Chapman and Gaurav Khemka (both ANU) conclude in a new paper.*

They analyse the increase in the cost of courses the government does not like over students’ working lives to find, the maximum hit to weekly disposable income for people in the highest income categories is $6.40, “but much lower than this for median earning graduates.” Overall, they estimate, costs generally of the order of 0.5% and never higher than 0.83% of the (discounted) present value of lifetime incomes.

A male humanities graduate in the tenth percentile of average weekly earnings will be down $1.55, a same-income business grad will be short $1.02.  Grads in the 90th percentile will pay variously $6.38 a week more (humanities) and $2.66 (management and commerce).

Lowest earning women will pay nothing more in either discipline group. Top earners similar figures as men.

There are also low impacts for people with degrees the government approves of – top earning maths grads will score $5.50 or so.

“Once the HECS–HELP collection arrangements and the impact of discounting on lifetime income are taken into account, what appears to be radical with the government’s major price changes will in effect be quite slight for graduates,” they write.

* Bruce Chapman and Gaurav Khemka, “Understanding recent HECS–HELP price misunderstandings” Australian Journal of Public Administration 2021, 1-17

Vaile of tears over Uni Newcastle chancellor

The University of Newcastle branch of the National Tertiary Education Union opposes the appointment of Mark Vaile as chancellor

Mr Vaile is a former leader of the federal National Party, deputy PM under John Howard and member for the seat of Lyne, adjacent to the Newcastle region.

But it’s not his coalition connection that upsets the NTEU. Branch president Dan Conway says, “(ANU chancellor) Julie Bishop who held similar roles in Liberal Governments is an appointment that I think most would be proud of.”

However, the union and allies on campus object to Mr Vaile’s chairing a large coal miner.

“The university has made a public commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2025 – all of our administrative appointments – especially those at senior levels – should be consistent with our forward-looking stance” Mr Conway says.

The university council meets today but Mr Vaile won’t be there – he takes over on July 1.

Plenty of ticks from TEQSA

The regulator releases its most recent published decisions report

The report covers October-December last year and consists almost entirely of private providers with new courses accredited and existing ones renewed. No one was knocked back and but five of 60 plus applications were conditionally approved.

The only university the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency decided on was Victoria U, which was re-registered for the maximum seven years.  But there was no mention of Murdoch U – its registration expired in July last year.  TEQSA advises that a “provider’s registration is taken to continue until TEQSA decides whether to renew the provider’s registration,” (CMM June 5 2020).

Awards for tech stars

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering announces its 2021 achievers

Entrepreneurship: Leanne Kemp (QUT adjunct professor) founder of Everledger (digital record of provenance of objects)

Innovation: Alan Wong (RMIT) for fire-risk detection on power networks

Knowledge commercialisation: Anne Voss (the medical research institute formerly known as Walter and Eliza Hall), Tim Thomas (WEHI), Jonathan Baell, (Monash U) cancer treatment licensed to Pfizer)

Engineering: Kate Nguyen (RMIT) non-combustible building cladding

Agrifood: Lindsay Bell (CSIRO) managing climate for dryland cropping and livestock farms. Anna El-Tahchy (Nourish Ingredients, ex CSIRO), flavour, sustainability of plant-based food

Solomon Award: Luke Djukic (Omni Tanker), transport of dangerous goods

Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship: Georgia Hunter (Monash U) multi-polymer materials. Hayden Robertson (Uni Newcastle) stimulus-responsive polymers

Appointments, achievements

Of the day

Monash U dean of arts Sharon Pickering will act as DVC E during a search for a permanent successor to Susan Elliott, who becomes provost. Arts DD Rita Wilson will act as faculty head.

Miranda Rose receives the Elizabeth Usher Memorial Award from Speech Pathology Australia. Professor Rose is director of the Centre for Research Excellence in Aphasia Recovery and Rehabilitation at La Trobe U.

Of the week

At QUT, Rowena Barrett’s title changes from ED Entrepreneurship to PVC (Entrepreneurship).

Rebekha Brown becomes Monash U’s DVC R and Senior Vice President (of which position Monash U has a few (CMM June 1). She steps up from Senior Vice-Provost and Vice-Provost R.

Also at Monash U, Susan Elliott is new Provost and, yes Senior VP, replacing Marc Parlange who will soon be off on the road to (Uni of) Rhode Island. Professor Elliott’s new portfolio is expanded to cover international campuses, as well as faculties. She moves from DVC E.

Andrew Flannery is Uni Queensland’s new Chief Operating Officer, he moves from CFO.

Conor King is abdicating – the Innovative Research Universities ED will leave end July.

 The Academy of Sciences in Gottingen (“a learned society steeped in tradition”) names Yixu Lu (Uni Sydney, School of Languages and Cultures) a Corresponding Fellow. One of Professor Lu’s research fields is German colonialism in China.

Mark Vaile will become chancellor of the University of Newcastle in July. Mr Vaile was federal National Party leader and deputy prime minister 2005-2007. He will replace Paul Jeans.

Some of the new Young Tall Poppies science award winners for NSW are Marissa Betts UNE (palaeontology), Hamish Clarke Uni Wollongong (bushfire risk and climate change) and Vittorio Orazio UNSW (cancer biology).