Friday 8 November

$2000 cap on self-education tax deductions dropped

The government has axed the controversial $2000 cap on tax deductions for self-education expenses following extensive lobbying by professional bodies and the university sector. Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the move, which has been welcomed warmly by the sector, as part of a broader strategy of tax and superannuation reform.

More here:

Pending review of demand driven system

Ahead of the soon-to-be-announced review of demand-driven funding, University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis has called for the demand-driven system to be scrapped in favour of capped funding envelopes for universities, within which institutions would be free to distribute student places and numbers as they wished. Prof Davis suggests that this would give the government budget certainty while allowing universities freedom to set their own priorities, although the Australian notes that such a proposal would significantly benefit the University of Melbourne. In other policy news, higher education analyst Andrew Norton has suggested that price differentiation could occur under a HECS-based system, citing the differential pricing for postgraduate programs already in place for domestic students.

More here:

CSIRO job losses

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that 1400 contract and casual researchers, scientists and workers at the CSIRO will lose their jobs under the government’s public service job freeze, which has seen agency heads instructed to terminate the jobs of all contract workers once their terms cease. The freeze is part of the Abbott’s government’s plan to cut 12,000 jobs from the public service in a drive for efficiency, which will also see the scrapping of a number of non-statutory bodies and government advisory committees. Some commentators have characterised the move as a further element in a “war on science”, along with the fact that there is no designated science minister in the Federal Cabinet and the decision taken today that Australia would not send any ministerial delegate to the premier global conference on climate change.

More here:

UniMelb joins US online consortium

The University of Melbourne has joined a US-based online learning consortium which will see students from other universities pay to undertake online courses for credit at Melbourne or their home institution. The first course, which will be run on classical mythology and limited to 20 students, is expected to cost a flat fee of US$4,200 (A$4,430). In other online developments, UNSW will fund a scholarship for disadvantaged students through crowdfunding website Pozible, aiming to source $30,000 via this means to supplement funds already collected through more traditional means. The university has said that the scholarship is designed to raise aspiration to university education for students in Western Sydney.

More here: