Plus perception not policy to save TAFE and big smiles in Adelaide

Flirting on the PD

UTS researcher Stuart Clegg says many managements now acknowledge office romance is a fact of life with some accepting, even encouraging it. How long before HR starts establishing selection committees?

Hilda reveals all

Last week the Innovative Research University group did well in an analysis of graduate income based on the long run HILDA social survey data but Executive Director Conor King sensibly stayed schtum as hacks and flacks argued what the stats meant. Instead he quietly drilled into the data and left it till things calmed down to point out the important outcomes in HILDA.

Like the evidence that school outcome, at least before the 2009 expansion of higher education access, which has not flowed through the figures, is no necessary indicator of post university income. “While some like to argue it is not where you study but what you study, the survey shows that what matters is that you do study,” he writes.

And the point that IRU graduates do well on income, compared to those from the Group of Eight, despite the former accepting students with lower school entry scores and others who delayed entry to university. “The greater focus on use of knowledges and greater experience in application during the degree appears to pay off.”

“Overall it is a valuable report, not (just) because IRU comes up well, but for it revealing with more depth the nature of employment and income as connected with education. By following a set of real people it adds perspective,” Mr King concludes.

ANU June 2

It’s what you know and whom you know

The Group of Eight is hosting a dinner for 80 Beijing based graduates of member business schools tonight. According to Go8 CEO Vicki Thomson, ”this dinner illustrates that Group of Eight business schools have educated a future generation of Chinese business leaders.”

“The value of those long-term alumni relationships to both nations is incalculable. It means that we understand each other better, we trust each other more and we have built valuable long-term relationships that affect far more than simply careers.”

I bet the alumni could not care less what their uni entry scores were.

No parking permit

Flinders U was promoting its ability to sell parking permits on-line yesterday, just as it announced its research partnership with Volvo on a self-drive car trial in November. CMM hopes management has not budgeted parking revenue too far out – when cars can drop owners off and take themselves home, who will need to park?

mindhive 2

Always on Sunday

Thanks to Fed U VC David Battersby for pointing to a new carillonneur at the University of Chicago. No, this is not UofC’s ceremonial Quebec canoeist, but what Australians call a carillonist. It reminded CMM of ancient days when he used to arrive at the University of Sydney early enough to hear its carillonist practising terrible tunes. “Never on Sunday” belted out on the bells haunts CMM still. Thankfully it now longer applies, UniSyd carillonist Amy Johansen plays for the public, every Sunday afternoon.

Perfect teeth

The University of Adelaide and South Australian Government have signed off on a 30 year deal for the university to continue to provide a community dental service, which doubles as a teaching facility. The university has funded the $58m operation, which is in its facilities adjacent to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. But while the announcement was all smiles yesterday much of the deal was negotiated through gritted teeth as the state government put community dental services out to tender. At which point the University of South Australia, presumably acting on an innocent sense of fun, got involved. It was a tender Uni Adelaide, with the only dental school in the state and needing the clinical practice for students, had to win – which it did in December. Presumably they held the smiles to now so everybody could get their teeth fixed after all the smacks in the kisser during the negotiations.


Open Day of the day

This morning’s big Open Day out announcement is from UWS, which promises “a new and reimagined” event at the Parramatta campus on August 30. There will be “TED-style talks from industry leaders, interactive displays and entertainment in addition to course advice.” What’s more it will be “thoroughly interactive” with “digital activations”! No CMM does not know what this means either. Not a patch on Monash’s drone delivered burgers or Murdoch’s free Uber rides.

By the book

Late yesterday the University of Canberra announced an academic staff member was suspended without pay following students reporting alleged serious misconduct. The ACT police have conducted a campus search and the university has established an internal review and is making medical, counselling, pastoral and spiritual support available to affected past and present students. It’s a textbook response and while management isn’t talking the leadership is obviously alarmed.

Perception over policy

While Labor VET spokesperson Sharon Bird is making positive noises about the Bruce Chapman, Timothy Higgins report on funding voced courses (CMM Monday) she stops short of backing extending income contingent loans to VET diplomas. Sensibly so, the one thing the Opposition cannot afford to do is specify how much public money they want to spend across the post school education portfolio – lest the public sector unions hold them to it.

But Ms Bird makes it plain that TAFE should dominate the VET landscape; “a strong and dominant public provider is essential in the sector to provide the benchmark for quality and cost and why we have announced policy to provide a guarantee of funding to the TAFE sector in government. Although there is concern about the increased cost of TAFE courses in various states, they still provide an important comparison point that would not be available if public provision was not available in particular regions or for particular industry sectors.”

Federal Training Minister Simon Birmingham has done a great deal to clean up for-profits, but CMM suspects that the catastrophically bad original deregulation model in Victoria did irreparable damage to private provider reputations there which now shapes attitudes across the country. The case for TAFE is now more about perception than policy.

As South Australian Training Minister Gail Gago demonstrated yesterday, when she told ABC radio in Adelaide that TAFE SA courses can cost two and half times more to run than those of private providers – and yet the state government wants to reserve 90 per cent of training places next year for TAFE. There are all sorts of reasons for this – TAFE can’t just focus on cheap to teach courses but it’s a big gap.

CEF1 June 15

Tune out

The teenage brain responds positively to music, which sharpens hearing and language skills, Northwestern University’s Nina Kraus has found (published in PNAS). Shame what they mostly listen to doesn’t remotely resemble music.