UON Sector Update

Keeping UON staff informed on the latest sector news and developments.

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Monday 14 April 2014

The long-awaited report of the review commissioned by the government into the demand-driven system has recommended that undergraduate university places will remain uncapped, with a broadening of the system further to include sub-bachelor (enabling and diploma) places as well as private and TAFE providers who offer bachelor-level programs and diploma programs. Other key recommendations from the report, authored by former education minister The Hon David Kemp and Grattan Institute director Andrew Norton, include a removal of the higher education attainment targets established by the previous government, a tightening of Commonwealth-supported postgraduate places to disciplines where there are clear community benefits and “modest” financial rewards, and the imposition of a flat 10% loan fee on all HELP (HECS) loans to support the cost of the system. Education Minister Christopher Pyne has not yet commented on the report, which is widely expected to be addressed in the Commission of Audit and the May budget. Against this backdrop of looming cuts, universities have generally welcomed the central principles of the report with relief, although the Australian Technology Network of universities has warned against incentivising for-profit entities to expand their student load and highlighted that Commonwealth per-student funding must not be diluted by any expansion of the system. Labor and the Greens have joined with student groups and university staff unions to express concern at the recommendation to impose a loan fee, with the NTEU criticising the report’s “blind faith in a market solution” and its shifting of the burden of increasing costs onto students. The report also flagged a potential review of the provider category standards for higher education providers, opening the door for teaching-only universities and the segregation of research and teaching funds into separate streams – a move that would significantly benefit the older research intensive universities such as the Group of Eight.

More here, including a link to the report:

In other funding news, the chair of the federal government’s Education Investment Fund (EIF), Philip Clark, has called on the government to use the EIF fund to match philanthropic gifts to universities from private donors, suggesting this could lift philanthropy in the sector to a “sustainable $1 billion a year” and encourage donations to universities that did not currently have much philanthropic income, such as Newcastle, Macquarie, Wollongong and the ATN institutions. Arguing for a similar scheme to those run successfully by governments in Singapore and Hong Kong, Mr Clark has argued for the appointment of a group of ‘philanthropy champions’. Relatedly, poker machine billionaire Len Ainsworth has donated a large gift, believed to be around $10 million, to support a new engineering building at UNSW.

More here:

Last week’s trade and diplomacy mission to China and Japan by the Prime Minister and senior Cabinet figures has delivered number of significant benefits for universities, including the renewal of funding for the Australia-China Science and Research Fund and the extension of the New Colombo Plan student mobility scheme to include China. A new free trade agreement with Japan will also give Australian universities and TAFES equal treatment to Japanese providers, with talks underway about mutual recognition of Japanese and Aus­tralian qualifications. The Australian Technology Network has also announced an Australian-first deal with prestigious Chinese institution Shanghai Jiao Tong University to offer jointly branded and industry-focused PhD programs, with a focus on mathematics and statistics.

More here: