Monday 14 October

International education

International education remains high on the new government’s policy agenda, with Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs (and former Shadow Minister for Universities and Research) Senator Brett Mason highlighting the importance of the New Colombo Plan to the Coalition’s engagement with Asia. Senator Mason also noted the critical role of Indonesia in the government’s policy settings for the future, suggesting that the recently established Australian Centre for Indonesia Studies would drive personal connections and collaborations with Indonesian counterparts on important research projects. The Australian Financial Review reports that a greater proportion of Australian students are studying abroad than ever before, with 92.8% of the experiences for credit. The top destination remains the US, followed by China, the UK, Canada and continental Europe. Meanwhile, international students studying in Victoria have received a boost to their campaign for travel concessions, with Melbourne’s city council voting unanimously to lobby the state’s Minister for Transport to change the rules.

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Call to reduce ‘red tape’

Amid concerns about increasing red tape for universities, the Group of Eight has called for a significant reduction in TEQSA’s role, functions and operating budget, suggesting that “fundamental reform” was needed. Education Minister Christopher Pyne has flagged reducing red tape and the regulatory burden as a priority, promising further announcements in the coming months.

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Ranking news

The latest university rankings released by the National Taiwan University show most Australian institutions registering continuous improvement over the last two years. The NTU ranking is a relatively new ranking system that evaluates performance based on scientific output and does not utilise reputation measures as a proxy for quality, unlike other systems such as the Times Higher Education World Rankings or the QS World Rankings. The Economist MBA rankings have also been released, with the University of Queensland’s business school registering a dramatic rise to 14th in the world (from 27th in 2012), ahead of such prestigious business schools as Wharton and Yale School of Management.

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Personal digital learning

Adaptive learning pioneer Dr Dror Ben-Naim has predicted that personalised digital learning will take over from traditional forms of education, enabled by customised “learning profiles” that would be continuously constructed as students go through online learning experiences at school or at home. He highlights the Biomedical Education Skills and Training Network, established by a consortium of Australian universities including UNSW, Melbourne, Queensland and James Cook University, as an example of the possibilities offered by adaptive learning technologies and principles. The University of Tasmania has also completed its first MOOC, an 11-week program focusing on dementia care that attracted 9300 students. The University reported higher than average retention rates for the course compared to other MOOC providers.

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College launches bachelor degrees

Macleay College is the latest private provider to launch bachelor-level degrees, announcing that it will offer fast-tracked two year degrees in business and journalism from 2014. The degrees, which will cost $60,000 and have a strong industry focus, has been marketed to school leavers and "career changers".

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New VC for Curtin

Professor Deborah Terry – currently Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Queensland - has been named as the new Vice-Chancellor of Curtin University. Professor Terry will take up her role in February 2014 on the retirement of long-serving VC Jeanette Hacket.

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