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The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you. B. B. King

While it might not be making blaring headlines, the “problems” linked with deregulation and funding still seems to be percolating just below the surface. Just like a mud pool with below the surface activity and the occasional eruption into the limelight.

As well, there are several other topics across the education spectrum now starting to take up a greater role in the world of discussion, suggestion and even concern.

The earlier deregulation package is, without a doubt, dead and should be buried. It will not get through parliament and the more it is changed the less support it seems to be getting. This is not to say there are not people out there still talking about aspects of it, including longer term problems, for example Students set to owe $70bn.

Among these are methods of solving the core problem of funding and change - IRU urges : keep considering reform and commentary by people such as Andrew Norton, Glyn Davis, Vin Massaro, Conor King, … . We even have external groups such as Business Councils and Chambers suggesting options. One has to take the positive view, I suppose, and say at least there are a wide range of ideas and suggestions now being canvassed - and more importantly a realisation that there are other ways to go about the process. This is a continually recurring theme. Amazing nobody thought of finding the best possible implementation methodology in the first place isn’t it ?

Then there are those pesky people at the top who seem to be getting fabulous salaries while funding is claimed to be too small [Uni heads taking home millions]. “Compacts”, “independent commissions”, “public accountability agreements”, “independent co-ordinating body”, are all terms starting to come into vogue. The next election could be an interesting time for the higher education sector if all these ideas come to a head.

International students have long been seen as an essential part of the higher education process, especially on a financial basis. There have been problems at various stages based on visas, paper mills, language skills, etc.. Needed : evidence on the record indicates ‘Four Corners will cover a claimed decline in academic standards in universities and low entry requirements for international students’. [Not the first time the topic has been covered.] A Draft National Strategy for International Education was recently released [April 1, whatever that suggests], but more worryingly this has been followed by a NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation. Their report, Learning the hard way : managing corruption risks associated with international students at universities in NSW, may only directly refer to one state but would suggest the possibility, at least, that the concerns expressed may be common across the total sector.

Four Corners may or may not be more successful than previous investigations. It is, however, one to watch, including any flow on from what they find.

For as long as I can remember, there have been discussions about which schools, private or public, achieved greater success with students. Some supported one group, some the other. Points of difference were noted while levels of achievement varied over time for both groups.

Lo and behold, it is back in the news again. Private school students have no academic edge over students in the public system, study finds suggests this is only the latest of a series of reports over the last few years essentially supporting the same premise. Of course, there were those supporting, those suggesting it wasn’t quite correct, etc.. One of the better responses was from Jennifer Buckingham who covers a range of factors from saving the government money to reasons why parents choose private schools. See whether you agree with what she has to say.

While talking about school education, there seems to have been a range of commentary of late covering a multitude of areas from Too many teachers teaching outside their area of expertise to Ignore the fads : teachers should teach and students should listen, Disability groups back call for inquiry into education of children with a disability back to the impact of Gonski funding, or lack thereof.

The most recent of these - Full Gonski or ‘schools will close’ Catholics say, forms the basis of a submission from the National Catholic Education Commission leading up to the next federal budget. Do not be surprised if there are others. No one wants to miss out on this level of funding and what it might achieve. The pressure will be right on the federal government from many quarters in that regard.

While there are sometimes good things to be gained from other educational systems around the world, one has to take into account other factors that help them to be successful in their original settings. and whether they can be adapted to achieve success here. Several educational areas seems to have been prominent over recent years including Finland, Singapore, Korea, Japan and China. Pleasing the Emperor [Inside Story], is an interesting article reviewing whether the Chinese system at least is as valuable an example to follow as many would suggest. See what you think about the presentation and its conclusions.

Site Update

We are well into the review process at the moment. Data from a selection of periods over the last twelve months has been used as a basis for most decisions. This has led to decisions regarding keeping pages active, archiving them or deleting them in several cases. In one instance we have reactivated a previously archived page. Put simply, if they were not shown as being used by you the clients, then they were in strife. Some usage was so low it was simply no longer valid to maintain them. Time will be better spent working to enhance the pages found to be valuable. Redirects for page changes will be included for a period of time.

We have also taken the opportunity to try and make pages a little quicker to access [several methods used] and easier to use, though we have not made significant cosmetic changes. In many instances, the changes which have been made will be barely noticeable. Most of these changes are behind the scenes, rather than out screaming “look at me”.

As with many modifications, other changes are resulting from those originally seen as worthwhile. We are gradually finalising all of them and [at this stage anyway !] most seem to be working correctly. All changes should be completed within the next few weeks and the last pages switched to the new system. Till then we are only updating conferences, calendar and a few other essentials, and responding to requests for information. Suggestions which have been forwarded during this period and are accepted for inclusion will be included in the updated version.

A number of other changes are being considered but will be the subject of a later revision.

Site Changes

Recent weeks have been spent updating the site as a whole. See details above.

Updates have been added to the following pages : Calendar, Conferences, Journals.

19 April 2015.

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