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All of the top achievers I know are life-long learners. Looking for new skills, insights, and ideas. If they’re not learning, they’re not growing and not moving toward excellence. Denis Waitley

Time flies when someone is trying hard to achieve something, others adamantly opposing. Even with suggested changes, there still looks little hope. Basically positions have remained the same, though there have been some suggestions rather than blanket opposition from every corner.

The government has suggested several options including an offer to reverse university cuts though it didn’t appear to resonate. Nick Xenophon has pushed for a cap on fees as an interim measure and a full review of higher education. This position is supported by Gavin Moodie, but not necessarily by others.

John Madigan, Model for university funding untenable, has indicated he is open to talks. Zhenya Wang offers some support but will not vote against his party line. Unis welcome Pyne’s new reform bid. Other options such as those in Expensive Options have been proffered.

Meanwhile, opposition stands unchanged. Labor, Green, PUP, NTEU, Stephen Parker, NUS, and the list goes on.

Others take a more practical view. Education package needs to be changed to succeed gives Andrew Norton a chance to look at what needs to be done. ‘Disentangling [several parts of this plan] would be a good start to addressing what are real problems in the university funding system’ otherwise ‘an unchanged reform package faces a second Senate defeat’. This view is common in Christopher’s choice : defeat or retreat.

With parliament set to resume next month, something, or someone, is going to have to give. Either that, or we will continue to see some groups wanting positions that are impossible to implement and sustain [totally free access]. Others locked into ideological positions and unwilling to move. More importantly, nothing constructive is happening to find the best possible option to overcome what many see as a problem that needs fixing. As we have said before, only time will show whether people are creative enough, then willing, to support a workable solution.

Tis the time for university offers. There will be those who are happy [for many reasons] while some will not be quite as pleased. It is also the time when ATARs tend to get a lashing. While student numbers have kept growing, the level of ATARs for numerous courses is viewed with concern. Everybody’s invited provides a clear, brief summary of ‘the bipartisan commitment of a place for everybody a university will accept’. However, …

Drop out rates for different ATAR bands does give cause for concern. Some lower bands have between one in two or three students dropping out before the end of their degree. This is obviously not good for student, university, funding body or country.

Archaic Argument suggests that ‘with something like 20 per cent of first years enrolling under alternative entry schemes the ATAR is not irrelevant, but certainly not the make or break mark it once was’. Undoubtedly true. How, though, do we get around the apparent problems which exist ?

One discussion looks at the problem and actually offers some potential options. The ATAR debate : students need to be able to finish uni, not just start it. This looks at data, trends and as indicated, some potential solutions. Several steps are suggested. The final comment is telling, and one with which we could all agree. ‘We want to give them a chance to complete a degree, not just to start one’.

Teacher quality was mentioned last entry. This was specifically to do with preparedness for literacy teaching. While this was occurring, other concerns were being raised. APPA was indicating ‘the quality of teaching is the single greatest in-school influence on student achievement’. This required a higher ATAR and ‘a more rigorous and reliable selection process for those wishing to become teachers’.

Others saw weakness in the preparation for coping with special needs. Still others, including the Institute of Public Affairs looked at teacher career structures, e.g. Freedom to Teach.

If I had to take a punt, I cannot see change to the present situation anytime soon. However, it might give people something to talk about around the water cooler if they happen to get time in what is going to be a busy start to the school year. Hopefully the year will prove enjoyable full of achievement and satisfactory for all staff and students. We wish them well.

Other Areas of Interest

In a period where there are either significant changes in education, or attempted significant changes, some people stand out. Perhaps the commonwealth government should take note of No war, just a revolution which details how ‘teaching in New South Wales’ is undergoing significant reform without rancour. Maybe we should all send a copy to the commonwealth government ? It might give some clues.

Evaluate education reforms today to avoid mistakes being repeated for our grandchildren is an interesting piece by Pasi Salberg. In the article he looks at education reform and what happens after it is implemented. Are there follow-up reviews ? Is it simply implemented and forgotten ? What research has been done ? How many “reforms” can you think of that fall into various categories, and which could have been improved if it had actually occurred ?

Some people just strike a chord … or maybe it resonates because they use memories of TV past to make a point. In an article titled ‘A Lesson for our groups of Unis from the Thunderbirds’, Paul Wellings suggests our ‘our university lobbying system has too many similarities with the old TV show’. As he says, ‘Universities Australia has the almost impossible task of formulating policy to suit all types of institutions in all circumstances’. The article is well thought out and well worth reading.

Rating your professor : five myths about university teaching quality is a particularly apt article. Especially so at present with university teaching quality an interesting topic. This is a well reasoned and explained piece, with links to related information. These include articles such as Do we recognise good teaching in our universities ? and others. Even if there is no specific answer, the myths are worth reviewing.

How often have you thought about VET qualifications - how suitable, should we keep the ones we have, how do we know, what are other countries doing ? I doubt many people do. NCVER does, thank goodness. A new study, Developing, approving and maintaining qualifications : selected international approaches, informs ‘Australia about practices used overseas. It provides a useful reference document for agencies charged with developing and reviewing qualifications’. Those who are interested in the best VET outcomes could find it useful.

Site Changes

The following pages have been completely updated : links, descriptors, exclusions, additions : French, Hebrew, Indigenous Languages, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Serbian, Thai. They can be accessed via the Curriculum link in the menu.

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

25 January 2015.

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