We have been here before

“There should be more opportunities for individuals to learn at their own pace and at such times as may be convenient to them by making it easier for them to have access to self- learning aids, resources such as libraries, correspondence lessons, and audio and visual presentations,” Kangan Committee, report on TAFE in Australia (1974). Labor’s Tanya Plibersek suggests her proposed inquiry into post-compulsory education will be “as significant” as the Whitlam Government’s Kangan Report.

Model changes at the Uni Sydney

The team implementing the University of Sydney Operating Model is set for another big-year, with its control board set to meet monthly from Wednesday for the year. For lesser beings who want to know what the controllers are up to there is an all-staff forum on Monday.

A learned reader says building the new Operating Model is an immensely complex process (said to involve 100 plus staff), which is taking years to make the university’s human resources, finance, IT and campus infrastructure services professional service units easier to work with. “It takes a bureaucracy to reform one,” the LR remarks.

Labor’s election agenda   

What’s on offer: A Labor Government will increase university funding by $10bn over a decade, Opposition education shadow minister Tanya Plibersek told the Universities Australia conference yesterday. And she renewed the party’s promise to reinstate demand driven funding of undergraduate places for the 2020 academic year.  Ms Pibersek also announced a Labor Government would, “guarantee three-funding agreements

Labor, will “return certainty and funding autonomy to the sector,” she said.

Ms Plibersek also committed Labor to reforming international education exports, promising an expanded advisory body, including the VET sector and a new five-year plan.

She also presented long-awaited details on the post school inquiry, which “will be as significant” as Julia Gillard’s Bradley Review and Gough Whitlam’s Kangan Review.

A catch? Heavens no: Although, Ms Plibersek did say Labor would include requirements in funding agreements with individual universities.

“As publicly funded organisations Australians rightly expect that universities to contribute to our social, cultural and economic development.”

In particular, she specified, “addressing sexual assault and harassment on campus and in residential colleges”. And she warned that if universities did not lift entry standards for teacher education degrees, “as federal minister for education I would have the ability to cap places in teaching degrees – and that option will remain a live one in any future discussions.”

Mixed reviews for Tehan

The first reviews of the two big speeches at the Universities Australia conference, were mixed.

The Regional Universities Network loved Education Minister Dan Tehan’s  prepared text (CMM yesterday), which was rather heavier on substance than his actual remarks. “We welcome the government and minister’s ongoing commitment to regional higher education,” network chair and Federation U VC Helen Bartlett says.  Demonstrating RUN’s bipartisan support for all parties that promise money for regional education, Professor Bartlett also backed commitments at the conference from Labor’s Tanya Plibersek.

But not everybody was pleased with Mr Tehan’s speech. One policy expert suggests he was dividing the system and ignoring regional unis’ city campuses, and vice versa. As for the minister stating he could find no ARC-funded research on lifting regional/rural higher education participation rates (CMM yesterday), the LR found eight papers– all involving researchers from those city-slicker Group of Eight unis, most of which have regional campuses.

There are no formal endorsements of Ms Plibersek’s address, what with it being delivered in an explicit election context but it went down well. Last night there was  no commentary about her talk of intervening to ensure universities meet “community expectations”. Mentioning $10bn in new money will do that, an LR remarks

Labor announces review terms of reference

Labor education shadow Tanya Plibersek announced the terms of reference for the proposed post compulsory education review at the Universities Australia conference, yesterday. Stripped of most, well some, of the blather the inquiry would address:

* a high quality, efficient, effective, and modern post-secondary education system

* an equitable, sustainable, and transparent funding model

* public institutions (TAFEs and universities) at the centre of post-secondary education

* courses and qualifications responsive to changes in labour market and society and fit-for-purpose

* student access to institutions and courses to increase their skills, capabilities and knowledge

* appropriate links between post-secondary education and work; with workplaces sites of high-quality learning; and portable qualifications

* accessible apprenticeship system, adapting to technological change and supported by all benefitting parties

* increased participation of under-represented and disadvantaged Australians

* addressing needs of post-secondary students and institutions in regional and remote Australia

* a strong, competitive, diverse and sustainable international education sector

* careers advice with appropriate value on VET

* adequate funding for post-secondary infrastructure

* national regulatory systems including agency roles, institutional accountability, the qualifications framework and consumer protection

Appointments achievements of the week

 Kevin Larkin is Australia’s university teacher of the year. Details of all the category award winners appears in Wednesday’s issue.

 Paula Johnston will become CFO at the University of Newcastle in June. She joins from James Cook U.

Heiko Spallek is announced as academic lead for digital health and health service informatics in the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Health and MedicineJulie Redfern is the academic lead for research development.

Three Australian based academics are elected fellows of the Combustion Institute, which “promotes and disseminates research activities in all areas of combustion science and technology”; Bassam Dally (University of Adelaide), Bogdan Dlugogorski (Murdoch U) and Hongwei Wu, (Curtin U).

Caralee McLiesh is confirmed as managing director of TAFE NSW. She has acted since October. Dr McLiesh joined from the state treasury.

Ann Farrell from QUT is appointed deputy chair of the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority Board.

Kirsten Andrews is the chief of staff to University of Sydney VC Michael Spence. She moves up from comms director at the university.

Ben James is incoming director of the University of Queensland Press. He starts in March.

The Academy of Science 2019 career awards appeared in yesterday’s issue.