aussie educator


The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change. Carl Rogers

Many of the topics recently included are still among present news items. However, it seemed an appropriate time not to concentrate so much on the actual news items as some of the people making the news in relation to them.

Among those whose names appear on a regular basis are Ian Young, Vicki Thomson and, more recently, Bruce Chapman, all for different reasons. Andrew Norton is another, but is included in the Other Areas section.

Ian Young has been an advocate of deregulation. For this he has been lauded by some, pilloried by others, while never being afraid to speak out and say what he thinks and defend his position. His latest presentation to the National Press Club [for a copy, Imagining an Australia built on the brilliance of our people is found here]. In this, he looks at the positives he sees emanating from deregulation while still putting in some reservations and making suggestions [for Bruce Chapman’s alternative proposal].

In essence what he is suggesting is that ‘Deregulation will enable universities to differentiate. To play to their strengths; Deregulation, however, is a game-changer and a building block to making our universities brilliant; but, Deregulation is not the whole answer’. In ways he also reflects Warren Bebbington’s belief in the values of diversity as described in Changing the Mission, and many other Go8 Vice-Chancellors.

As well, he confronts directly the linkage many make to the US system and student charges [especially] that occur there, then clearly states ‘that the government needs to reconsider the impact of charging a real rate of interest on that debt’. This then leads on to a referral to Bruce Chapman’s and Timothy Higgins’ alternative.

The report is well worth reading, no matter what you feel about deregulation, fees, research funding or diversity among higher education institutions in Australia. It will leave you with much to consider.

Bruce Chapman and Timothy Higgins have crunched the numbers and come up with an alternative to the model suggested by the government. The full detail is found in HELP Interest Rate Options : Equity and Costs and also referred to in an article by Timothy Higgins, entitled HELP is in need of help.

As Stephen Matchett indicates, ‘the authors argue repayments under either option are more equitable for all borrowers [and] concludes that the increases in subsidy under both options are “relatively small”’. After all, as he indicates ‘If the feds fail to fault the figures [which seems likely, given Professor Chapman wrote the book on income contingent loans] the government would be mad not to adopt the plan as an incentive for cross-bench senators to pass the substantive sections of the Pyne package’.

Perhaps, after all, there is a solution here ? Certainly, a number of media responses would suggest possible reversal or modification of government plans. For examples of these, check Govt likely to modify HECS repayment proposal and Unpopular uni debts likely to be reversed.

Vicki Thomson has long been regarded highly. The Australian Technology Network would certainly indicate this. Undoubtedly the Go8 will also regard her highly, now she has agreed to take on the role of Executive Director. She has already said ‘she will continue to be a vocal advocate for good policy and [will] take governments to task when she feels they are failing’. At the same time, she is definitely pragmatic.

Just one example is her statement that ‘when we [ATN] saw this [deregulation] was where the government was heading, we asked how do we make the best of it’. She has also shown she can get people to work together in ‘harmonious and highly collaborative ways’. One only suspects the Go8 will benefit even more from her arrival.

TAFE continues as a major topic, in many cases for the wrong reasons. Headlines such as Open training market to add to TAFE fee confusion, VET complexity ‘worse under market’ and Enrolments in diplomas crash in Victoria, do little to inspire confidence.

However, one recent article leaves one wondering whether they are serious or not. See what you think. TAFE ‘should brand as cheap airline’ is serious, and perhaps realistic, in the present climate. In referring to a report by SMS Management and Technology, it quotes the concept that ‘TAFE NSW may choose to take advantage of deregulation [and] establish a branding and business model as the alternative low-cost provider of higher education services, competing directly with universities’.

I don’t know whether they would want to be known as the ‘Jetstar or Kmart of higher education’, but with a little PR tweaking about selling the concept, the idea may have some merit.

As an old teacher [in multiple senses], it is always fascinating to see what people say about teaching. Several recent reports have been interesting. These include Lawrence Ingvarson’s piece - Why we don’t have the world’s best, or most respected, teachers and Research needed on whether university lecturers could do with teaching lessons.

Meanwhile Macquarie University is leading the development of Opening Real Science, ‘to bring real, relevant science into Australia’s classrooms’. Along with the program at the University of Melbourne designed to enhance the teacher capacity in Science and Maths, they are not only interesting but have long term potential for students and teachers.

Other Areas of Interest

With opposition to many of the budget programs, including higher education matters, there has been discussion on how the government will achieve what was included. Many suggest there will be give and take and some degree of what has been mooted will be achieved. The government and others have considered multiple ways of doing this.

Andrew Norton has looked at ‘what legal changes are required to implement the Pyne higher education reform package [and] summarises what he thinks the legal situation will be’. It is certainly the clearest presentation in a sea of confusion.

In this age of internationalisation in education, a recent article, Which option is best for my kids ? International Baccalaureate vs state certificates poses a fascinating question. The spread of the IB continues unabated. The multiple sections of the article give a good grounding on why this expansion is occurring.

Similarly, Australia seems to be developing national processes in many areas of education - national curriculum, school levels falling more into line nationally, etc.. Now we have an indication of a Schools push for national starting age. Like the curriculum, this could prove valuable with increasing population movement within Australia. Starting ages can vary greatly and a common factor would be welcomed by many.

Site Changes

The following pages have been completely updated : links, descriptors, exclusions, additions : Education Software pages [Apps], all Teacher pages. They can be accessed via the Teachers and Resources links in the menu.

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

3 August 2014.

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