Tuesday 21 January 2014
NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has increased his call for more stringent entry standards into teaching courses at NSW universities, stating that the main factor damaging the status of the teaching profession was "the perception that anyone can get into teaching". He has proposed a "closer relationship" between schools and universities, suggesting that it would be necessary to tighten further the threshold standards for university entry. Minister Piccoli’s comments follow a recent trip to Finland, acknowledged as a leading education system internationally, and have sparked a strong response from universities. University of Sydney VC Michael Spence has highlighted that universities are responsible for graduate learning outcomes, but that it is the responsibility of government to recruit and employ the best teachers according to relevant selection criteria.
- http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/adrian-piccoli-says-teacher-selection-criteria-should-be-more-strict-20140120-314vn.html [no paywall, but article limits]
- http://www.smh.com.au/comment/opinion-better-teachers-not-just-a-university-responsibility-20140120-314po.html [no paywall, but article limits]
The role of ATARs in university entry is again in the spotlight, with the newly formed Federation University of Australia under fire for offering places to students with ATARs as low as 33. The university, which came into being this year following the merger of the University of Ballarat and Monash University’s Gippsland campus, has defended its practices, stating that its focus is on academic outcomes rather than entry standards, and that the institution has rigorous support programs for low-ATAR students. Australian Catholic University VC Greg Craven has called for universities to publish the median ATAR for offers rather than the stated minimum, suggesting that some institutions engaged in âdeceptive and unethical practicesâ by inflating published ATARs. The Australian’s High Wired column reports on the large increase in direct offers to students, which made up 22% of all offers nationally in 2013 and are stated to be driving a move away from state-based university admissions centres and published ATARs.
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/reform-call-as-uni-takes-low-achievers/story-e6frgcjx-1226804490561 [paywall]
- http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-20/more-places-offered-at-churchill-uni-campus/5207896 [no paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/high-wired/high-wired-update-tarred-by-atar/story-fnizwcu6-1226805665016 [no paywall]
In a submission to the review of the demand-driven system of student funding, the Group of Eight universities has called for a staged approach to progressive fee deregulation, arguing that universities should be able to charge undergraduate full fees for professional courses such as law, accounting, economics and commerce. The submission has suggested that domestic fees would âtop outâ at around $15,000 a year – an increase of more than 50% on the current maximum fee under HECS. The Group of Eight has also called for universities to be held more accountable for their admission standards, and for further funding for sub-degree places to be available to private and non-university providers to drive competition. Former Macquarie VC Steven Schwartz has backed the call for deregulation, but has suggested that the teaching subsidies for such courses should be redirected to institutions that do not lift tuition fees.
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/go8-pushes-for-fee-deregulation/story-e6frgcjx-1226806249688 [paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/steven-schwartz-urges-uncapped-fees-at-the-top-subsidies-below/story-e6frgcjx-1226806150219 [paywall]
Monash University has become the first Australian organisation to be awarded a global top-level domain name, which will allow it to replace the ".edu" at the end of its URLs with ".monash". Top-level domains were opened to applications in 2012, at an estimated cost of $US185,000 per application, with the university stating that the .monash global Top-Level Domain name would "allow the university to manage all of its domain names under the global identity of Monash". Still on technology news, staff unions at the University of New England are unhappy at the institution’s decision to refocus on computational science and move away from traditional computer sciences, stating that the proposed job cuts in the foundational discipline would affect capacity.
- http://www.afr.com/p/technology/uni_drops_edu_to_monash_in_aussie_vbNBYFc2FOUhadw87prJHM [paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/une-opts-for-computational-science-over-traditional-computer-science/story-e6frgcjx-1226804375206 [paywall]
In The Conversation, Australian University Teacher of the Year John Croucher highlights the importance of student surveys in identifying issues with the quality of lecture delivery and preparation, noting that the strongest correlation found for overall ratings of teacher quality was to whether the teacher was able to explain the course material clearly.
Newcastle businessman David Hankin has announced that he is investing more than $1 million in the development of "high-end" student accommodation in the Newcastle CBD for international students. The development, which will be housed in a currently unused building opposite Event Cinemas in King St, will offer 18 rooms, common areas and a separate âvirtual golfâ facility on the ground floor.