Wednesday 30 October
Visa restrictions for international students loosen
The federal government has fast-tracked its pledge to loosen visa restrictions for international students, with students from 22 TAFEs and private colleges that deliver bachelor degrees to enjoy the same level of streamlined visa processing as universities from March 2014. Visa rules will also be simplified to reduce the restrictions on students from âhigh-riskâ countries for visa fraud, and financial requirements will be eased in many instances. The international education sector has welcomed the move, although some private providers have called for the changes to be extended further to sub-degree programs and VET qualifications.
- http://www.afr.com/p/national/greater_degree_of_access_for_international_V07N3kHpgutsgPUTK2gSAP [paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/canberra-to-ease-student-visa-rules/story-fn59nlz9-1226749278450 [paywall]
HECS debt debate
The debate about securitising HECS debt continues in the sector, with the Australian Technology Network calling for a proportion of the proceeds of any sale to be returned to higher education for students’ benefit and safeguards to be put in place to protect student interests. Education Minister Christopher Pyne has confirmed that the government is considering the move as part of its Commission of Audit. Proponents of securitisation of HECS debt argue that the privatisation of debt flows could be an asset for the government, but opponents – including the Greens - point to the fraught UK experience in attempting to sell off student loan debt, in which investment banks pushed for students’ interest rates for repayments to be retrospectively increased.
- http://www.afr.com/p/national/protect_students_if_hecs_is_sold_Bsc1Lw9YtnbBga670vb6SL [paywall]
- http://theconversation.com/selling-off-the-hecs-debt-could-be-a-super-solution-19676 [no paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/hecs-debt-sale-would-cost-students-more/story-e6frgcjx-1226749206763 [paywall]
TEQSA’s approach to regulation and registration of higher education providers is again under scrutiny, with ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young suggesting that an appropriate balance between intervention and risk has not yet been reached. Young cautions against âoverreactingâ and âstrip[ping] TEQSA of any real powerâ, noting that an effective regulator was intended to be a key part of the uncapped system; he suggests that it is inconsistent to raise concerns about low entry standards while simultaneously calling for less regulation. QUT Vice-Chancellor Peter Coaldrake has stated that TEQSA must reposition itself as a âbrand protectorâ for Australian education or risk becoming overly compliance-focused, while others have suggested a division of TEQSA’s regulatory and quality assurance functions.
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/opinion/teqsa-a-critical-balancing-act/story-e6frgcko-1226749177894 [paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/more-training-but-fewer-reporting-it-has-helped-on-the-job/story-e6frgcjx-1226749173553 [paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/more-are-completing-school-yet-the-gap-keeps-widening/story-fn59nlz9-1226749275779 [paywall]
- http://www.afr.com/p/national/one_in_five_australian_adults_has_LRGEgKUtW3x5PKKiziQ9uL [paywall]
- http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-30/study-work-fulltime-australians-youth-unemployment/5056224 [no paywall]
- http://theconversation.com/coag-education-reports-show-early-childhood-and-year-12-are-key-19611 [no paywall]
Structural change in Australian higher education sector
In the Australian, higher education policy expert Gavin Moodie analyses the major structural changes underway in the Australian higher education sector, including the increase in offshore campuses, online ventures such as Swinburne Online and the amalgamation of universities and TAFEs at institutions in Queensland, Victoria and the ACT. Moodie suggests that these structural changes have been escalated by the demand-driven system, and that further change is likely should the system continue. University of New England VC Jim Barber argues that structural change has not gone far enough, suggesting that in order to compete with low-cost online competitors Australian universities need to âunbundleâ academic services and move to a user-pays âpremiumâ model for services such as tutorials and customised support. Barber acknowledges that such changes will be difficult to achieve under the current regulatory regime, which he states is largely âinput-drivenâ rather than focusing on outcomes.