Saturday 8 February 2014
The Australian has published a list compiled by the Department of Education that shows which universities will be hit hardest by the government’s "efficiency dividend" on university funding, with the Universities of Queensland and Sydney both likely to see cuts to their funding of more than $50 million over four years. Hardest hit overall will be the large Group of Eight institutions, who currently receive the highest levels of research funding, although the University of Western Sydney and Queensland University of Technology are also predicted to experience cuts of over $30 million.
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/efficiency-dividend-hits-uni-for-512m/story-e6frgcjx-1226819989993 [paywall]
- http://resources.news.com.au/files/2014/02/07/1226820/306561-aus-web-file-highered-efficiency-dividend.pdf [no paywall]
Following the resignation of a high-profile health researcher in protest over La Trobe University’s $15 million deal with vitamin giant Swisse for research into complementary medicine, the university has reinforced that any research funded by the company would be "independent and accountable" and would have âclear controls in placeâ to avoid conflict of interest. La Trobe last week signed an MoU with Swisse to establish a Complementary Medicine Evidence Centre, a decision criticised by academic Dr Ken Harvey as "fraught with conflicts of interest" due to the perception that Swisse would influence research outcomes.
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/la-trobe-university-insists-on-conditions-in-swisse-deal/story-e6frgcjx-1226818554893 [paywall]
- http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-05/academic-quits-la-trobe-university-over-2415m-contract-with-sw/5239204 [no paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/don-quits-over-swisse-tieup/story-e6frgcjx-1226817885211 [paywall]
In the Conversation, student equity expert Tim Pitman summarises university submissions to the review of the demand-driven system, highlighting themes related to student participation, labour supply and demand, marketisation of higher education, and educational standards. Pitman also notes the diversity in approaches to funding the system, with various institutions recommending capping of student numbers and/or funding, deregulating fees (either partly or in full), or continuing to fund at current rates as demand plateaus out. The NTEU has highlighted the impact of the demand-driven system on the academic labour market, stating that student-staff ratios had "doubled over a generation", and that casuals now carried more than half the load in undergraduate teaching.
- http://theconversation.com/our-expanded-higher-education-sector-is-delivering-but-who-should-pay-for-it-22503 [no paywall]
- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/02/05/part-time-employment-surges-australian-universities#ixzz2sgnFPsJk [no paywall]
In MOOCs news, US giant Coursera is now offering "specialisation certificates" for a fee when students complete a sequence of courses in a given subject, with Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland coming on board with sequences in data science and cybersecurity. The Guardian suggests that MOOCs may not be democratising higher education as much as previously anticipated, highlighting the high proportion of MOOC participants who already hold degrees and suggesting that the current model has limited penetration into areas of low educational participation. The Guardian also looks at data about MOOCs to investigate their impact on the UK distance education market, highlighting that the proportion of courses undertaken by distance learning did not appear to be impacted by the rise of MOOCs.
- http://www.afr.com/p/national/education/mooc_watch_certificates_for_sequenced_u0o2jRWodTMrpLFbKeOplI [paywall]
- http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jan/20/moocs-global-thirst-education [no paywall]
- http://www.theguardian.com/education/datablog/2014/jan/30/distance-learning-higher-education-moocs?CMP=twt_gu [no paywall]
In Inside Higher Ed, higher education commentator Philip Altbach analyses trends in international education, highlighting the volatility of international student flows and the impact of domestic policy shifts within key source countries such as China. He has suggested that this volatility may have serious consequences for university budgets and academic programs – a concept that may be new to the US but is already an accepted factor of the Australian and UK higher education sectors. International higher education strategist Rahul Choudaha has also flagged international competition for students as a key trend, noting that there is increasing pressure on higher education to redefine its value to students.
- http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/world-view/volatility-international-student-flows [no paywall]
- http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20140108165233225 [no paywall]
The University of the Sunshine Coast has received a $5 million philanthropic donation which it will use to partially fund a $10 million car park, the revenue from which would be channelled back into scholarships for both disadvantaged and high-achieving students. In other campus news, the University of South Australia is tendering for a high-speed fibre optic connection on its Mount Gambier campus, which the University states may deliver speeds of more than 1000 times the current rate, and all Victorian universities have announced that they will be going smoke-free on their campuses.
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/usc-to-reap-benefits-with-car-park/story-e6frgcjx-1226817887222 [paywall]
- http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-31/uni-internet-plans-pick-up-speed/5230888 [no paywall]
- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/victorian-campuses-butt-out/story-e6frgcjx-1226818979039 [paywall]