Monday 16 December 2013
Deregulation and a push for full federal control over NSW universities
The Australian Financial Review reports that the federal government is intending to assume full control over the governance NSW universities, cutting out the state government’s historical role in approving land sales and borrowing as well as taking on the burden of $2 billion in unfunded superannuation for schemes operated by NSW universities. The change would mean a reduction in reporting requirements as well as greater federal involvement in appointments to university Councils, which would be constituted under Commonwealth rather than NSW law. The NSW Education Minister has stated that "preliminary discussions" are underway in relation to the move, which has been cautiously welcomed by universities and unions.
Still on deregulation, UNSW VC Fred Hilmer has called for further reform of higher education regulator TEQSA, criticising the application of Australian Quality Framework standards to established universities and stating that lack of clarity in regulation opened the door to bureaucratic âoverkillâ and unwarranted costs.
- http://www.afr.com/p/national/education/feds_plan_takeover_of_universities_atFDANOyP4LSFa6scaJdgI [paywall]
- http://www.afr.com/p/national/education/universities_won_miss_answering_IISHFUO4pOZCjM7s2JzK4K [paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/deregulation-job-not-done-hilmer/story-e6frgcjx-1226781813998 [paywall]
Rural medical placements more effective that rural backgrounds
New research published in the Medical Journal of Australia indicates that rural clinical training during medical studies is more important as a predictor of future practice in rural areas than students’ rural background. The longitudinal study of students attending the University of Sydney’s medical school found that those students who had undertaken one-year rural placements at Dubbo, Orange, Lismore or Broken Hill were twice as likely to accept rural internships at the end of their studies than students from rural backgrounds.
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/rural-study-trumps-for-attracting-doctors/story-e6frgcjx-1226782626255 [paywall]
- http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-16/nrn-rural-doctor-study/5159048 [no paywall]
With ATAR results due to be released in Victoria today, The Age reports that ATARs for entry to top science-related courses have risen over the past five years despite the increasing number of places under the demand-driven system. ATARs for entry into science at Melbourne and Monash hit five-year highs in 2013, despite significant increases in the number of offers made. In NSW, however, university lecturers have expressed frustration at the shift from prerequisites for entry to assumed knowledge, stating that students are enrolling in high-level mathematics, science and engineering degrees significantly unprepared because they have not studied maths or science for their HSC. The current highly competitive environment in NSW has been blamed for the shift, with universities possibly placed at a competitive disadvantage if they elected to reintroduce pre-requisites.
- http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/higher-atar-makes-university-science-places-harder-to-get-into-20131215-2zfd0.html [no paywall - but article limit]
- http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/maths-and-science-lecturers-struggle-with-illprepared-university-students-20131213-2zcvq.html#ixzz2nbogxQrv [no paywall - but article limit]
Science and research policy review
Science and research policy is under review in The Conversation, with UNSW researcher Ben McNeil suggesting that Australian scientists should shift the focus of their thinking away from the funding situation for the sector toward improving productivity. He notes the "hidden bias" and "waste" inherent in current competitive grant schemes, noting the significant cost to taxpayers of losing young researchers from the system and proposing that the government cut back senior fellowships (such as the Laureate Fellowships) in favour of increasing funding for early career researchers. In other funding news, Deakin University has completed a trial crowdfunding project for research projects via Australian website Pozible, with six research projects raising about $50,000 in total from the general public.
- http://theconversation.com/securing-australias-future-science-and-research-19516 [no paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/funding-by-crowd-pozible-says-deakin-university/story-e6frgcjx-1226780122345 [paywall]
BHP funding for UWA
BHP Billiton has committed $17 million in funding for the University of Western Australia, with $12 million to establish scholarships and a "dedicated engineering zone" and $5 million to go to the UWA Business School.