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Struggling IDP feels the pinch

IDP EDUCATION Australia chief executive Lindy Hyam has foreshadowed further cost cutting at the international marketing and recruitment arm for universities.

As IDP struggles with a sharp downturn in demand for international students, Ms Hyam warned that more change is inevitable if the not-for-profit company is to ride out the toughest period in its 34-year history.

She said IDP has already shed staff through natural attrition in the past 18 months. "There will probably have to be some others. But I think most of what we can do has been done," she said.

Seven general managers have left their posts this year along with a number of other senior staff - a trend Ms Hyam attributes to the high mobility of 25 to 35-year-olds in the corporate sector.

Financial controller Darren Heathcote resigned his full-time post last week but Ms Hyam said he would be retained on a part-time basis. This follows the resignations of general managers Denis Meares and Mel Dunn, as reported in the HES last week.

In an interview with the HES yesterday, Ms Hyam pointed to a series of events that had converged in an unprecedented way to create a difficult climate for the group. They included a high Australian dollar, a rise in living costs, an increase in course fees at universities, the expansion of competing countries into Australia's markets and changes in domestic policy.

"We've never had all of these things at the same time," Ms Hyam said. "Everything's changed. We can't operate the way we have in the past."

IDP had moved out of a cottage industry to one with high expectations, high complexity and one that demanded higher skills.

Ms Hyam said consultants Deloitte were working on a new structure for the company. That proposal would go to the December board meeting.

IDP, which is owned by 38 universities and whose board mostly comprises vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors, has about 90 offices in 50 countries around the world.

President Lance Twomey confirmed last week that more of the country offices would close as part an overhaul of the company's operations. The HES understands the board is split on how the company should handle the current crisis and that some members are concerned about the high staff turnover.

Ms Hyam has been under strong pressure from the board to lift the company's performance as it faces a debt of more than $2million this year.

But vice-chancellors are yet to agree on whether they want to transform it into a for-profit company - an issue that will be taken up at the first plenary of the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee next year.

Yesterday Ms Hyam said she had never been under pressure to resign and that she was there for the long haul.

"I remain as committed as I always have," she said. "It's been a tough few months, but it's the very time where you need to draw on your inner strengths."

She confirmed that while the board had agreed to renew her contract at its May meeting, it was not signed off on until the end of October. Her contract will run for another three years, with an option for a further two years.

One of IDP's former longest-serving general managers, Dorothy Davis, returns on November 22 from a European secondment.

Ms Hyam said it was not certain yet what position Ms Davis would assume on her return as she had asked to do something else within the company.

SOURCE - The Australian
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Call for cull of agriculture courses

AGRICULTURAL education is under pressure. Despite being redefined during the past decade to appeal to the growing environmental focus of urban students, the discipline is struggling to attract the numbers universities need to keep the courses viable.

Earlier this month a financial administrator was appointed to Queensland's Dalby Agricultural College.

Also under way is a review into Queensland's Emerald, Longreach and Burdekin agricultural colleges. The review is addressing "issues relating to poor performance with regard to corporate governance, financial management and training outcomes". Options include combining them into a single college with several campuses.

In the face of a looming $3million operating deficit for 2005, the University of Melbourne's faculty of land and food resources was considering cutting back its full-time rural education courses to one of its five country campuses. The rural sector vigorously objected and the plan was dropped last week.

The former Hawkesbury Agricultural College, now part of the University of Western Sydney, last month sold its 220-cow dairy herd and this month called for more staff redundancies.

It is not just the where and how of agricultural education that is under scrutiny. Earlier this month a group from the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science met officials from the University of Adelaide to raise concerns about its agricultural degree. One of those representing the institute at the meeting was Jim McColl, who previously chaired a commission of inquiry into agricultural education in the tertiary sector in 1990.

"Agricultural science seems to have lost its way," McColl says. "The world has changed a lot and is changing rapidly. When I say it has lost its way, it has lost its way in the sense of being the good, flexible, general training that is used to be."

His specific complaint about the University of Adelaide's course is that it is getting very focused on molecular biology and biotechnology.

"We are worried about the move away from the training that the top farmers need," he says. "That is where a real gap is starting to occur."

It was McColl who recommended the consolidation of agriculture and related education in 1990. He says the movement of regional former colleges of advanced education into the university sector resulted in too many "two-bit agricultural courses".

"The thrust was to rationalise and try [to] consolidate the resources rather than have them scattered all over the place," he says. "It is starting to happen and it is being driven by the trends that to some extent we identified back then."

University of Western Australia vice-chancellor Alan Robson was a member of the review panel. "We recommended six faculties of agriculture in Australia and we have more now than when we recommended that," Robson says.

Across Australia, 16 universities offer degrees in agriculture and related areas. A further seven offer environmental science courses, while agricultural colleges in Queensland, NSW and WA offer vocational and educational training courses.

Robson says Australia's largely urban population sees agriculture - incorrectly - as a mud-on-the-boots sunset industry.

"The lack of connection of most of our young people to agriculture means they don't see agricultural science as leading to a worthwhile career, yet all the data says people who do agricultural science as degrees end up having very enjoyable careers and there are lots of career opportunities for them," he says.

Agriculture is still a significant industry and employer. The gross value of agriculture peaked at $21 billion in 2001-02, with agricultural exports accounting for more than 20 per cent of Australia's goods and services exports. In 2003-04, the sector employed 377,000 people directly, and another 183,000 in food and fibre manufacturing.

The bottom line, according to Robson, is lack of demand for tertiary agriculture courses and the resulting lack of critical mass.

McColl's review identified two main streams of agricultural education: natural resources and agribusiness. He suggests universities specialise in either stream. "To some extent those things have happened but many of them have tried to do both," he says.

One of the changes since then is there are now few stand-alone agriculture schools and faculties as most have merged with related disciplines.

Robson says UWA now has a faculty of agriculture and natural sciences, bringing together the botanists, zoologists, geologists and geographers with agricultural scientists.

"A lot of the challenges facing sustainable use of agricultural land are going to require a broad skills base and you can't afford to have duplication within the university of plant scientists sitting in a pure sense in botany and a practical sense in agriculture," he says.

University of Western Sydney's school of environment and agriculture head Robert Mulley argues that the "new agriculture" is much more aligned with environmental issues than before.

"So that by its very nature the diverse areas that agriculture spans means that many of us have had to re-brand," he says.

Mulley, like McColl, feels the importance of agriculture is often overlooked. He says modern agriculture is "very hi-tech", using gene science, biotechnology and precision agriculture.

"On the other hand, the value of production agriculture to the country and to the world can't be understated and the whole area of agribusiness is absolutely crucial," he says.

But running agriculture courses is an expensive business. The Hawkesbury campus covers 1600ha on the edge of Sydney.

"We do have quite an extensive outdoor laboratory," Mulley says. "We did have a commercial dairy until recently. We closed that down because it was uneconomic. We have a herd of beef cattle and a flock of cross-bred ewes. We have an equine studies unit. We have a deer unit. We have quite good laboratories, we do agronomy and glasshouse work here."

Mulley thinks there is growing pressure for resource sharing between universities, but says he can't imagine how that is going to be achieved in any equitable way.

"I think, really, it needs a government inquiry on how agricultural training - which is crucial to the future of the country and stewardship of huge areas of the Australian land mass - is undertaken at the individual university level," he says.

"And yes, it probably will mean some sort of rationalisation in the future. But the importance can't be denied and we really need to act now to preserve good facilities to produce good outcomes."

SOURCE - The Australian
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TCE exams to commence in Tasmania

MORE than 6500 students in Tasmania will tomorrow begin their Tasmanian certificate of education (TCE) exams.

Accounting and environmental science are the first of the 48 subjects to be sat, starting at 9am.

During the next two weeks they will be followed by exams in the traditional subjects of physics, mathematics, geography, Australian history, chemistry and biology.

The exam timetable also includes some more contemporary subjects such as housing and design, advanced electronics, audio design and science of natural resources.

Manager of assessment services at the Tasmanian Qualifications Authority Phillip Geeves said there would be 17,500 written exams to be marked at the end of the two weeks.

The 480 examiners -- mostly teachers and some university academics -- have a week to mark the exams.

As many as 200 exam supervisors will collect papers from 25 venues in Tasmania as well as interstate and overseas.

Two Tasmanian students on exchange in Japan and Germany and 10 students in China, who have been studying Tasmania's Year 12 curriculum this year, will be among those sitting formal exams.

"This is the first time we will have students from our Chinese and Tasmanian International School sitting TCE exams," Mr Geeves said.

"The Chinese students hope their studies will assist them to move to Tasmania to study at the University of Tasmania next year."

Mr Geeves said students would sit an average of three exams during the next two weeks, with some students completing as many as seven.

Between three and eight exams are run each day during a morning and afternoon session. Each exam lasts two or three hours.

Mr Geeves said 1600 students would sit the english communications exam -- the largest number of students to sit a single test. The smallest enrolment of students in a subject is in Chinese as a second language, where six will sit the exam.

Results will be posted on Monday, December 20, and are expected to arrive in mail boxes the next day. Results are available on the Monday by e-mail through pre-arrangement with TQA for $5.

Mr Geeves said the authority also planned to send Tasmanian tertiary entrance scores together with the final subject results on the same day. In previous years TE scores were posted a couple of days later.

Between 2500 and 2700 Year 12 students will be eligible for a TE score. They will also receive a tertiary entrance rank, which is used by all Australian universities to rank them against interstate students applying to courses.

Year 10 students will receive their results on Tuesday, December 14.

SOURCE - The Mercury
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University of Adelaide wins $11 m grant

THE University of Adelaide's medical, dental and biomedical research has received a major boost with the announcement of more than $11 million in funding.

Deputy vice-chancellor of research Professor Neville Marsh said yesterday the projects that attracted funding included molecular bioscience, pregnancy, dental health and methadone treatment.

"We are extremely pleased to see that the University of Adelaide has again performed well in attracting funding for research which has the potential to make a real impact on the health and wellbeing of the community," he said.

The university's science faculty also received a $2.7 million grant.

The grants were provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council, confirming South Australia's national leadership in biomedical research, executive dean of the faculty Professor Peter Rathjen said.

"I am particularly pleased to see large grants awarded to some of our new recruits," he said.

Also, senior lecturer in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology Professor Caroline Crowther received almost $1 million for a five-year project on vaginal and caesarean births.

Dr Maria Makrides, based at the Women's and Children's Hospital, received a $1.6 million grant for her studies into postnatal depression and neurodevelopment in children.

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University Student Associations - Students in charge of millions

THEY have an average age of 22, often live at home with mum and dad, and hold the purse strings of multi-million-dollar enterprises. There's nothing pretend about student politics these days.

Student unions are big business, and their 20-something presidents, with little or no business acumen, wield considerable power and sizeable budgets.

When the Victorian Supreme Court put the $14million Melbourne University Student Union Inc into liquidation earlier this year, and sacked its then 20-year-old president, the pitfalls of young, inexperienced people managing such a business were laid bare.

It was wound up after a liquidator's report recommended police investigate the union over awarding of contracts and alleged falsification of records, election rigging and travel rorts. The case is back in the Victorian Supreme Court for a liquidator's examination.

This adds fuel to the fire started by federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson recently when he indicated the Government would push again for nationwide voluntary student unionism. Earlier this week, The Australian revealed that to placate the Government the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee had devised a model to ban student unions from using fees to fund political campaigns.

Each of Australia's universities have student unions that charge annual fees of between $100 and $300 to provide student representation and subsidise services such as counselling, dental treatment and student newspapers. Some operate social and sporting clubs, cafes, bars and bookshops.

The acting president of what is left of MUSU Inc, 22-year-old Rohan D'Souza, believes the financial side of unions should be run by the university executive, with students on organisational committees. "It's extremely dangerous to have young people with no experience running a business like a union," he said. "The biggest problems for student unions is that the politics colours the business decisions."

But Susie Byers, the 22-year-old president of the University of Western Australia student guild, disagreed. "Regardless of age, people can be responsible or irresponsible," she said. "It's ridiculous to argue that young people are going to immediately get it wrong by virtue of their age. You hear all sorts of stories about grown men and women working within corporations who fall for the Nigerian bank account scam and losing everybody's money."

Tasmania University Union president John Moore, a 23-year-old law student, presides over a $1.7million budget. He admits he is no financial whiz, but insists there are checks and balances on how the money is spent.

"The Tasmania University Union has two tiers of control. We have students who are on the committee and controlling things, but we also have a management team ... who provide a knowledge base," Mr Moore said.

There is little uniformity in the financial activity or accountability of student unions in Australia.

Most in Victoria and NSW divide the politics from the provision of amenities and the operation of services. Others, like those in Western Australia, have the purse strings and politics under one roof.

Some universities require the union budget to be passed through the university council or senate.

Most do come under university statutes that identify the areas money must be spent on. In theory this means the university can step in, as Melbourne did when it received an auditors' report showing MUSU was on the verge of bankruptcy.

SOURCE - The Australian
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Nortel to launch wireless mesh network at Edith Cowan University

Edith Cowan University plans to roll out Australia's first wireless mesh network before the end of 2004 using wireless mesh and local area network (LAN) solutions from Nortel Networks Corp. This new network will give staff and students seamless wireless access to university applications and resources from any campus location, indoors and outdoors.

The Nortel wireless mesh network solution and Nortel wireless LAN technology are expected to make it possible for the university to improve the human experience through communications that provide secure and reliable, low-cost, campus-wide access with the capability of easily expanding to meet future demand for services. The mesh network will cover 132.35 hectares across four campuses, including 168 buildings.

"We've been looking for ways to extend the wireless network coverage on our campuses while keeping costs to a minimum," said Jeff Murray, information technology manager, Edith Cowan University. "The network had to be powerful enough to provide coverage both inside and outside the campus buildings, scalable enough to meet current and future bandwidth demands, and flexible enough to accommodate future technology such as converged voice, video and data communications. Also, due to the university's geographical spread, it had to be hardy enough to service both metropolitan and rural environments."

"We've determined that up to 70 per cent of mobile calls are from a campus base station to a campus phone," Mr. Murray said. "Future capabilities of the wireless mesh network can make this service available to all students and staff and can save $300,000 (Australian), which means the new network will basically pay for itself."

Following a public tender process and evaluation of 10 proposals from alternative suppliers, Nortel was assessed as providing the most innovative technology and best value-for-money solution for the university's requirements.

With almost 23,000 students including 3,000 international enrolments, Edith Cowan University is a leading education centre for the Australian services industry and the second-largest university in Western Australia. The university has metropolitan campuses in Churchlands, Mount Lawley and Joondalup and a regional campus in Bunbury, a city 200 kilometres south of Perth. It also offers selected programs at regional centres in Broome, Geraldton and Margaret River designed to meet the special and local needs of these areas.

"Wiring large numbers of access points can be a huge challenge and the costs can be prohibitive," said Steve Wood, president, Australia and New Zealand, Nortel. "With our wireless mesh network solution, Nortel has leveraged its global experience and expertise in wireless communications and networking infrastructure to deliver a cost-effective, highly-secure, fault-tolerant and reliable network that easily scales up from tens to thousands of users to deliver the full scope of our converged communications services to mobile users."

Including Nortel Wireless Access Point 7220 and Nortel Wireless Gateway 7250, the Nortel wireless mesh network solution significantly reduces the cost of transporting high-speed wireless data from Wi-Fi networks to broadband networks. The Nortel wireless mesh network solution uses IEEE 802.11 standards, allowing users with Wi-Fi-enabled laptop computers or hand-held computing devices to access the network without new hardware or software.

Looking ahead, Mr. Murray said that the university will trial Nortel Multimedia Communications Server (MCS) 5100 in the next 12 months with a view to enabling converged multimedia (voice, video and data streaming) services over the wireless mesh network.

Mr. Murray attended a live demo of a Nortel wireless mesh network solution at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab in Boston in February, 2004. Even at that early testing stage, Mr. Murray said that he was impressed by the stability and functionality of the solution and felt the technology could meet Edith Cowan's requirements.

"I'm confident that we will be leading the way for other universities and learning centres across Australia in the use of this genuinely liberating and cost-effective wireless network technology," Mr. Murray said.

The wireless mesh network portfolio complements the award-winning Nortel WLAN 2200 series, introduced in March, 2003. The WLAN 2200 series provides a complete, end-to-end wireless networking solution for enterprise campus environments, serving as an extension of the wired communications infrastructure.

SOURCE - StockWatch
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Monash opposes Howard Govt's new university reforms

Monash University has opposed the extension of individual work contracts at Australian universities, which is part of the Howard Government's plan for workplace relations changes at universities.

Monash vice-chancellor Richard Larkins said that extending individual contracts would create an unnecessary level of government intervention in university operations.

Professor Larkins said universities were already moving towards individual contracts at a "reasonable rate" and with relative industrial peace.

"Extending the rate of individual agreements negotiated with staff as opposed to collective agreements . . . would undoubtedly lead to much greater compliance requirements," he said.

Earlier this week, federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson told a meeting of Australia's university heads that the Government would compel universities to offer individual work contracts. These Australian Workplace Agreements would override collective agreements negotiated by unions.

But Professor Larkins said he supported Dr Nelson's plans to legislate against industrial action that affected "innocent third parties", such as tertiary unions withholding student results.

Unions at Monash and Ballarat universities have bans on releasing student results. Similar bans start at RMIT next week.

The secretary of the Victorian branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, Matthew McGowan, said bans on releasing student results were a "softer option" than forms of industrial action that disrupted teaching.

Dr Nelson yesterday defended the Government against criticism that its proposed workplace changes were not raised during the recent election, saying the issues were clearly on the agenda.

Speaking on ABC radio, he also indicated the Government could soften its long-held opposition to compulsory student unionism. Dr Nelson said he would consider some form of compulsory student association fees to support essential student services, but not political or quasi-social organisations.

Chief executive of the Australian Vice-Chancellor's Committee, John Mullarvey, said universities still supported a compulsory student fee to ensure the delivery of essential services.

Asked whether he believed fees should support political activities on campus, Mr Mullarvey said: "The decisions that are made on what the money should be spent on is a matter for individual universities to decide."

Ballarat University vice-chancellor Professor Kerry Cox said the Government's proposed university workplace relations changes would provide better "policy, transparency, accountability".

He said that present collective bargaining agreements did not always meet the university's requirements.

SOURCE - The Age
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Has Curtin lost the plot locally?

by Doug Daws

THERE'S been quite some agitation this week over the announcement by the Federal Minister for Education Brendan Nelson that he would like to have the 'Feds' take over control of universities - Australia-wide. Seems reasonable given almost all of the funding for universities comes from the Commonwealth and not the States. Perhaps predictably, some state ministers for education agree, and others don't - that's how it is in a democracy.

But it seems to me there is precious little concern for democracy - or what it is supposed to deliver - at the Kalgoorlie Campus of Curtin University.

It was revealed this week that the coup initiated when Curtin took over Kalgoorlie College is just about complete and there is little left for local students unless you're into mining or are a high school student.

For those that don't know, Kalgoorlie College was a fully functional independent college. I was Chairman of the Interim College Council for a while and that famous champion of Kalgoorlie, Mr Ray Finlayson, followed me. We shared a vision. A vision for broadly based and available tertiary education for all of those living here and that wished to complete or extend their personal educational goals.

Kalgoorlie College worked. Student numbers were high and the range and flexibility of courses was something other regional campuses in Australia aspired to. Students seeking trade training were especially well catered for and our workshops were the envy of equivalent metropolitan colleges. So much so that some were moved to complain at the range and quality of the equipment we were able to provide.

We worked to a plan to acquire nearby property intended to provide the areas needed to allow expansion of the campus. To provide breathing space for a carefully developed strategy to make Kalgoorlie-Boulder a unique regional community that could not only provide training to the people already here but attract students from other parts of the State and Australia. We were looking to education as another industry for this community rather than just a service provider.

Sadly, it is now none of this. The loyal trainers and lecturers have been eliminated - some without so much as a letter of thanks after 10 years service. Nepotism is alive and well within the campus ranks and many couples working there enjoy substantial combined salaries doing less and less as the student numbers are decimated. I hear the nearby properties have or are being sold off and the funds obtained put to other uses within Curtin.

The latest effort this week sees all classes in the once proud and productive arts sector eliminated with perhaps the exception of one textile course. Gone is dressmaking, garment construction, ceramics, hairdressing, life drawing, water colour courses, etc. etc. In their place are upper secondary school students who no doubt enjoy and probably benefit from the significant campus that was created for another perhaps more beneficial purpose.

None of this criticism is aimed at the Kalgoorlie School of Mines that rightly continues to capture funding and support from Curtin. After all, they need to make sure it survives until they are able to arrange the final act of their long-term strategy which is the transfer of the whole lot to Perth where they believe it belongs. In fact it would already be there were it not for the strength of argument and commitment of the likes of Julian Grill, John Bowler, Ray Finlayson, Graeme Campbell and SOM graduates.

Thanks to Barry Haase, Brendan Nelson came to Kalgoorlie-Boulder during the recent election campaign who, having heard the argument, immediately threw his weight behind the plea for support for the residential bursary scheme. I can't help but wonder what he would think, and do, if he was made aware of the destruction of all of the other course programs at Kalgoorlie Campus.

I cannot help but think that his proposed intervention into the way universities collect and then waste our money might be a better way forward. We couldn't do any worse than the appaling performance we have suffered at the hands of Curtin in everything other than the School of Mines.

That's my opinion. What do you think?

SOURCE - The Golden Mail
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International students number decline at US universities

CHICAGO -- International students are not attending college in the United States in the numbers they historically have because of a combination of fallout from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, high costs, rising anti-Americanism, tighter screening and tougher visa requirements.

The Institute of International Education's "Open Doors 2004" survey released Wednesday found international student enrollment fell 2.4 percent in the 2003-04 academic year. There were 572,509 foreign students compared to 586,323 in 2002-03 -- the first drop in foreign enrollment since 1971-1972.

"The decrease in number of international students this year is explained by a wide variety of factors affecting students differently in different countries, and includes a wider range of educational opportunities at home, stiff competition from other host countries, rising U.S. tuition costs, and the complex adjustment to tighter screening of visa applicants," said Allan Goodman, president and chief executive officer of the IIE, a non-profit group that annually surveys 2,700 colleges and universities.

International enrollment was lower at 13 of the nation's 25 leading universities.

The number of foreign students attending private and public colleges in California, the state with the most international students, fell by 3,301 to 77,186 between 2002 and 2003, and the number of foreigners attending college in New York dropped 1 percent.

Where are talented foreign students matriculating? Many are choosing universities in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand rather than deal with the increasingly frustrating process of trying to enter a security-conscious post-Sept. 11 America to study.

Fully half of graduate students in science and engineering at U.S. schools are from foreign countries. The CIA and the FBI must check international students planning to study scientific and technical fields when they apply for an educational visa, and many undergo interviews at U.S. embassies and consulates overseas.

The background checks are understandable since Hani Hanjour, one of the Sept. 11 hijackers who crashed a jetliner into the Pentagon, and one terrorist blamed for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, were in the country on student visas. Still, it's intimidating for young students who want to study in a foreign land.

Getting an F-1 student visa, once fairly routine, has turned into a bureaucratic exercise that makes many feel unwelcome. The Department of Homeland Security said the new student-visa rules deter terrorists from using college as a cover.

Universities have been responsible for tracking the movements and status of more than 700,000 foreign students and reporting immigration violations to a government database called the Student Exchange Visitor Information System via the Internet since August 2003. Foreign students pay a $100 fee to cover expenses of the tracking system.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have access to the SEVIS data at ports of entry.

"The perception in many countries is still that we are not as welcoming as we used to be," Ivor Emmanuel, director of services for international students and scholars at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Oakland Tribune.

Foreign enrollment was steady or slightly higher at Harvard University, Boston College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but slightly lower at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and sharply lower at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

UC-Berkeley foreign enrollment fell from 491 students in 2002 to 369 in 2004.

Ohio University received nearly 1,000 fewer international graduate applications but enrolled only 50 fewer foreign students. Foreign enrollment was down 11 percent at Ohio State. International enrollment fell 12 percent to 2,564 at Rutgers, New Jersey's largest university.

Foreign enrollment increased by less than 1 percent at the University of Pittsburgh.

"The creation of more, not less global awareness is necessary," said Mark Shay, chief executive officer of, an Internet site of Philadelphia-based Educational Directories Unlimited Inc. "Knowledge and experience are vital in gaining and promoting international understanding. Studying aboard introduces a new environment through which knowledge can be gained in a real-time setting. These experiences prepare individuals to thrive in a global community."

American students think so.

Applications from U.S. students to study abroad jumped 42 percent after Sept. 11, while admissions of international graduate students steadily declined, falling 18 percent in 2003 and 6 percent this fall.

Overall, enrollment of both undergraduate and graduate foreign students rose 0.6 percent in 2002 before three straight years of decline.

The number of students from the Middle East dropped 9 percent, Chinese enrollments fell 4.6 percent, and there were 5 percent fewer students from Europe, 2.5 percent fewer from Asia and 1.2 percent fewer from Africa.

India is an exception. The 79,736 Indian students in the United States represent a 6.9-percent increase over 2002-03 and comprise 14 percent of all foreign students, the largest group for four consecutive years.

"The number of Indian students in the U.S. has increased sharply over last year, jumping by 7 percent over last year," U.S. deputy chief of mission in New Delhi Robert Blake told the Hindustan Times. "This is in contrast to stories in local papers that somehow the U.S. has lost its historical edge in attracting India's top students."

The number of Pakistani students fell 10 percent to 7,325.

South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Canada were the other leading countries for foreign students attending American institutions. Nearly 57 percent of international students are from Asian countries.

U.S. universities don't know if the trend is long term but are beginning to feel an economic pinch with 70 percent of 400 graduate schools surveyed by the Council of Graduate Schools reporting a decline in first-time enrollment of foreign students.

Educating foreign students, many in graduate science and advanced engineering programs, brings $13 billion a year to U.S. higher education.

A survey released by the council last week found the number of Chinese and Indian students applying for graduate school this fall at U.S. schools fell 45 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

SOURCE - World Peace Herald
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University of Melbourne postpones merger of regional campuses

PLANS by the University of Melbourne to merge its five regional campuses into one next year were shelved after a consultancy report advised them the overhaul could not be completed in time.

The university council voted on Monday night to delay for at least 12 months any final decisions on the fate of the four campuses and the agriculture courses they offer, after intense political and community pressure.

In a council document obtained by the HES, education consultancy group Phillips KPA advises the university that "even if it wished to proceed with its foreshadowed proposal in 2005, the university could not do so because LFR [the faculty of land and food resources] does not have the capacity within the time available to offer the program proposed to relocate at Dookie".

When the university flagged its plans to either hand over full-time courses to other institutions or relocate them to the Dookie campus, near Shepparton, it cited huge financial losses at the campuses and dwindling student numbers. The LFR faculty has lost $15million over the past five years and projects a $3million loss next year, but the Phillips KPA report found it was not just the regional campuses contributing to the dire financial situation.

"While most of the focus of the university's initial consideration of the LFR budget deficit issue has been on the regional campuses, the Parkville [city] campus appears also to be contributing substantially to the adverse budget position."

The report to council, co-authored by outgoing vice-chancellor Kwong Lee Dow, says the university would find it difficult to secure growth funds for the campuses because of "suspicion of the university's bona fides and long-term commitment to regional delivery of VET and higher education programs".

"Continuing community suspicion of the university likewise may make it difficult for LFR even to attract sufficient demand for its programs to justify increased places and funding."

Victorian Education Minister Lynne Kosky had threatened Melbourne University with the withdrawal of up to $8 million in vocational education and training funding if it went ahead with the cutbacks.

Ms Kosky said the council decision made sense and should have been made a lot earlier.

Last week the state National and Liberal parties called for, but failed to get, a parliamentary inquiry into the provision of education in regional Victoria, particularly agriculture courses.

In a statement issued after the decision the university said "the council recognised that the university has a responsibility to continue delivering these courses on their regional sites in 2005 and beyond, unless or until other suitable providers can be arranged".

Professor Lee Dow said the university was trying to act in the best interests of agricultural education and training.

"The university should concentrate on its strengths in supporting the agriculture and related education programs vital to Victoria's agricultural economy," he said.

"While some VET programs offered by the university are core to LFR, some could, with advantage, be delivered by providers in the region who interact with the local community and rural industry.

"But until we negotiate suitable arrangements with other providers, the university will continue to deliver those programs. The university has had useful discussions with a number of interested TAFE providers."

The leaked council report indicated that at least three TAFE institutions had showed an interest in taking over some of the courses.

SOURCE - The Australian
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VCs worried about ailing IDP

VICE-CHANCELLORS will look at ways to turn a profit from their troubled international marketing and recruitment arm, IDP Education Australia, under plans for a radical overhaul of the not-for-profit company.

As the lucrative and highly competitive overseas student market slows, the university-owned company is being forced to look at its core business.

Two more senior staff resigned last week, bringing to seven the number of general managers who have left their posts this year.

The move comes as the company faces a debt this year of more than $2 million and prepares to cut staff in Australia and overseas. A number of its 100 overseas offices will also close.

While Australia's international student market has mushroomed in the past decade, a 10 per cent drop in demand growth this year has alarmed a sector highly dependent on overseas student fees for private revenue.

Denis Meares, IDP's general manager of global strategy, and Mel Dunn, general manager of the global development services group, are the latest senior staff to resign.

President of the IDP board and vice-chancellor of Curtin University of Technology, Lance Twomey, said they were acting in their positions.

Professor Twomey would not comment on possible reasons for the latest departures but said IDP's chief executive officer Lindy Hyam had the full confidence of the board.

The HES understands that low morale at IDP has contributed to the high staff turnover in the past 12 months.

The future of the company was under the spotlight yesterday during the plenary meeting of all vice-chancellors in Sydney.

One of the options being discussed is to have IDP become a global recruiter of international students, which would see it recruiting students for some of Australia's competing countries.

A number of Irish universities have already approached IDP about recruiting students for them.

But it is a move that will be resisted by some vice-chancellors, who see a conflict in their main recruitment agent working for competing interests. It would also leave Australian universities more exposed in an aggressive open market.

After the AVCC meeting yesterday Professor Twomey told the HES that a restructure of the company was not set in concrete and that a proposal would go to all vice-chancellors next year.

As reported in the HES in August, IDP was expecting to post a $1.6 million loss this year instead of the forecast $2.5 million profit, but this loss is now expected to be higher.

PriceWaterhouse Coopers is currently conducting its annual audit of the company and is expected to report before the next board meeting in December.

As part of cost-cutting IDP has already closed its office in the US and Professor Twomey confirmed yesterday it would be closing "a couple of others".

The company has been under pressure for some time to shed its not-for-profit status and either create a commercial arm or commercialise fully.

"What we have at the moment is a company which is owned by 38 universities and at the same time each university is a shareholder, a client and a competitor," Professor Twomey said.

"I think one of the issues that we've had to face is to get our minds around the fact that we've got to take a somewhat different approach to the way in which we've worked with IDP in the past."

He said until now it had been relatively easy to bring international students to Australia. But a rising Australian dollar and competition from other countries made it a much tougher prospect.

He did not favour selling off the company but said one option was to bring in other shareholders and put it on a commercial footing.

SOURCE - The Australian
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University reforms under fire

Education Minister Brendan Nelson has signalled a backdown on his controversial industrial relations reforms of Australian universities, the federal opposition said.

Dr Nelson meet with more than 30 university vice-chancellors in an effort to promote his reforms and plans to ban compulsory student unionism.

He flagged last week that he wanted to resurrect several plans knocked back by the Senate last year, including the extension of Australian workplace agreements to academics.

There are also moves to take legislative control of universities off state governments and hand it to the commonwealth.

Dr Nelson hoped to push the changes through once the coalition gains control of the Senate next July.

But opposition education spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said the minister had been forced to signal a backdown on the changes during the meeting.

"The education minister had been threatening to arrogantly misuse the government's Senate majority next year to push through ideologically-driven changes that will hurt university staff, students and the Australian economy," Ms Macklin said.

"(But he) backed away from forcing radical changes ... at the meeting today."

However, a spokesman for Dr Nelson said the claims were incorrect.

"As always, the Labor opposition is out of touch with what is most important for Australia's higher education sector," the spokesman said.

The Australian Vice Chancellors Committee (AVCC) met with Dr Nelson for an hour-long meeting in Sydney.

AVCC chief executive John Mullarvey said the discussions were positive and showed the minister wanted to make "improvements".

"It was very productive and very constructive in respect of the issues raised, ways forward and consultation," Mr Mullarvey said.

"The minister was very strong on saying he wanted to consult the sector and ... the wider community on his proposal."

He also said Dr Nelson "indicated there are a number of areas he wants to improve (and) bring out discussion papers (on)".

"Once (the papers) are produced we'll be in a position to respond," Mr Mullarvey said.

SOURCE - The Age
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The prestigious British Journal, The TIMES HES has come out with the rankings of the world's best 200 universities. The TIMES HES ranked universities on the basis of a survey of 1,300 academics in 88 countries. Other factors taken into account were the amount of cited research produced, the ratio of faculty to student numbers and an institution's attractiveness to foreign students and internationally renowned academics.

The Top 200 universities are in just 29 countries, with the United States having 62, Britain 30, Germany 17 and Australia 14. Only 14 out of the 40 australian universities appear in these rankings. These are the 14 australian universities which are at par with the world's best.

The following are the prestegious australian universities which have been ranked as one of the best universities in the world, offering top class international education. : -

World Rank 16 - Australian National University

World Rank 22 - University of Melbourne

World Rank 33 - Monash University

World Rank 36 - University of New South Wales

World Rank 40 - University of Sydney

World Rank 49 - University of Queensland

World Rank 55 - RMIT University

World Rank 56 - University of Adelaide

World Rank 68 - Macquarie University

World Rank 76 - Curtin University of Technology

World Rank 96 - University of Western Australia

World Rank 113 - University of Technology, Sydney

World Rank 142 - La Trobe University

World Rank 161 - University of Tasmania

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Times University Rankings - Our Comments

The following are our comments on the TIMES World Top 200 University Rankings -

** ANU maintains its hold as the best university in Australia. However, ANU is not as popular with international students as is its arch rival, University of Melbourne. The reason behind this is the location of the university campus. Canberra is half the size of Melbourne.

** The long fought debate - which is the Education City of Australia ? Sydney or Melbourne finally got answered. Both, the University of Melbourne and Monash University were ranked higher than University of Sydney and UNSW. Melbourne emerged as a clear winner in the rankings. Melbourne's RMIT University was also ranked higher than Sydney's UTS and Macquarie University.

** The State of Tasmania has only 1 university. But it is not an ordinary university - the rankings say so. UTAS, despite being the only university located on the regional apple shaped island state of australia was ranked in the World Top 200 list. Infact, UTAS has been consistently ranked higher than several metropolitan universities in various rankings, thereby indicating the high education standards of Tasmania. Quality matters and not Quantity.

** A big suprise to all students and academics in the State of Western Australia. Curtin University of Technology was ranked higher than University of Western Australia, which is a Group 8 university. University of Western Australia has a tough competitor now.

** RMIT University which is facing a severe financial crisis was ranked higher than University of Adelaide and University of Western Australia (both are Group 8 Universities). This is very impressive and RMIT was the best Non Goup 8 university in the rankings. RMIT would have to quickly solve all its problems if it wishes to remain in the 2005 Top 200 rankings.

** Hats off to the Six Non Group 8 universities which have competed with hundreds of Amercian, European and Asian universities and managed to find a place in the Top 200 Universities in the World. The prestigious 6 universities are - RMIT, Macquarie, UTS, Curtin, La Trobe and UTAS.

** The worst results were in store the State of Queensland. Queensland had only 1 representative in the Top 200, which is the Group 8 university - University of Queensland. Griffith University and QUT, which are the other prestigious universities in Queensland could not make it to the Top 200 list.

** The State of South Australia also had only 1 university featuring in the Top 200, the Group 8 University of Adelaide. The other South Australian universities, UniSA and Flinders University failed to impress the TIMES HES.

** Suprisingly, the 4 Star University of Wollongong did not make it to the Top 200 list. Other popular metropolitan universities such as Deakin, Swinburne and Victoria University also did not impress the TIMES HES.

** Only 2 regional universities made it to the World Top 200, viz, Adelaide University and the University of Tasmania.

** The 14 universities were from the following cities -
Sydney - 4
Melbourne - 4
Perth - 2
Canberra - 1
Brisbane - 1
Adelaide - 1
Hobart - 1

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Nelson's University Reforms

Universities are asking how Brendan Nelson's expanded reforms will work, writes The Australian's Dorothy Illing -

IT was swift and unexpected. Two weeks after the Howard Government swept back into power, Education Minister Brendan Nelson slammed down his new-term agenda for universities. This was a dramatic change in style for the former "minister for consultation": in his first term as minister he went out of his way to woo the universities that some predecessors had tried and failed to reform.

Now with the Senate coming firmly on side next year and his first round of reforms in the bag, Nelson has signalled he will charge ahead with a new agenda even before the last one is bedded down.

Next year universities will be able to set their own HECS fees up to 25 per cent above current levels and admit more full fee-paying students than ever before. With this partial fee deregulation under way, Nelson this week said he wanted to lift the shackles on work practices and create a more competitive and diverse national system of public and private universities.

"The single most important thing that we have to understand is that Australian higher education is going to be measured only against international benchmarks," Nelson told The Australian this week. "And if we don't meet, if not exceed, those international benchmarks, if we are not competitive on quality -- which requires money and less regulation -- then ... we are doing a great disservice to our country."

But will Nelson's blueprint transform the sector the way he intends? The initial vision was to give students more information about the usefulness of courses, set up systems to track students' achievement through university, create a competitive fee regime and open the way for institutions to generate more private revenue.

This week he added more to his package, including voluntary student unionism, which the Government has tried to get through the Senate before to cut compulsory funding of student political activists as well as the services their unions and associations provide.

University administrations might have to charge a replacement fee for services if unions become unviable.

Nelson also wants administrations to encourage individual employee contracts and, in some cases, to consider whether or not they should largely drop research and becoming teaching institutions. The other big reform aim is to shift the last vestige of state responsibilities for universities to the commonwealth.

The most contentious of these will be industrial relations -- the ideological battleground.

Nelson argues that a more flexible industrial climate will help Australia lure and retain the best academics and reward the top performers.

Universities, says Nelson, need greater freedom to match changes in student demand with shifts in staff. This can be done with a broader mix of full-time, part-time and casual workers. And Australian workplace agreements.

"I've discovered one of the reasons why the kids are jammed in like sardines in some lecture theatres when there's one nearly empty next door is that the current industrial relations climate in the sector makes it very difficult to shift [staff in response to demand]," he says.

But it is not easy to turn an astrophysicist into a Spanish historian in institutions built on highly specialised staff, although there are ways to get around the problem. Just ask Ian Argall. He's the executive director of the vice-chancellors' national industrial association, which has had its share of clashes with the academic union. Argall says universities are not like other industries where you can transfer employees as demand fluctuates.

So another way to have staff respond to student demand is to shed them and hire new ones -- a process that is difficult with the current high level of industrial protection.

"The flexibility to move staff in and out of areas of need either has to be done by making people redundant, sacking them for under-performance -- all of which are hard -- or hiring them on fixed-term contracts or casual employment so they're not locked in permanently," says Argall.

"Another is to retrain them which, in many cases, is not a practical option."

Many universities already have financial and promotional reward systems in place for high performers but so far these tend to bunch at the senior levels.

Market loadings, bonuses, performance loadings and annual targets are now par for the course in many contracts. Nelson wants more of these. Argall says there is no industrial impediment to a university paying its high-flyers big salaries to lure them from overseas. "The thing that really is a barrier is that you've got to have the money to spend," he says.

Chief executive of the Australian Industry Group Heather Ridout says the universities, like the manufacturing sector, are dominated by powerful unions. But they have gone a long way to find measures that reward talent.

"And I think with the strictures of budgeting over the years they've had to look to more flexible modes of employment," she says. "They've felt the financial pressure on them. And the need to attract talent and retain talented people has forced them into a lot of arrangements which might look a bit messy."

Money is the big issue. Nelson has earmarked extra public money for universities through various schemes that kick in next year -- at least another $2.6 billion over the next five years -- though much of that is contingent on them meeting certain criteria.

Universities will have more opportunity to seek out private revenue. They are able to set their own HECS fees at 25 per cent of current levels and enrol up to 35 per cent of Australian undergraduates on a full-fee basis. For the first time, full-fee students will have access to deferred loans similar to HECS, a move that has already boosted dramatically enrolments in one private university, Notre Dame.

While the funding injection will lift the bottom line, it will still not stem the gradual slide in the proportion of funds that universities get from the public purse -- an amount that now hovers at about 40 per cent of their sector-wide total income -- placing greater pressure on them to find other sources of revenue. By far the biggest single source of private income is from international students, who bring $1.5 billion a year in fees to the sector.

But like government funding, fee revenue is not an assured income stream. The international student market is already looking shaky as other competitors move into Australia's traditional Asian markets. A number of established overseas universities are also likely to open branches in Australia, competing aggressively for local students. Local private institutions will expand, giving students a wider choice but also competing with public universities.

Almost on cue this week the private US university Carnegie Mellon said it would open for business in South Australia under a deal struck with the state government -- a move Nelson favours. So what will this mean for Australia's public universities in the next five years?

They will have to work harder to generate private revenue, obviously, and they will have to decide what they do best. For some that will mean focusing on teaching and restricting their research to areas where it is self-funding.

But just as there will be greater disparity in universities, so too will there be greater disparity in institutional wealth.

Education consultant and former senior higher education bureaucrat David Phillips predicts more universities will go into debt and some will be forced to close campuses -- a trend already seen in Victoria where the University of Melbourne will close several of its unviable rural campuses.

The most vulnerable will be those that choose to focus on teaching: their capacity to attract revenue from other sources is limited compared with the big players who can pull in the research dollars and attract heftyendowments.

For now the business of getting the systems in place to launch the Nelson agenda next year has university administrations working overtime. A number of senior administrators told Inquirer that although there was still much work to get the schemes up and running, the Government's intentions were sound.

The head of the University of Melbourne's administration Ian Marshman says that in the end there will be more consistent information for students and greater transparency.

"It clearly gives an opportunity for a greater level of co-ordination and planning of the higher education output," he says.

The paradox is that Nelson's aim to achieve a more deregulated sector has created a much more regulated and intrusive system to administer and monitor those changes. But, he says, he's working on that.

SOURCE - The Australian
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Accountant deficit hits Brisbane

BRISBANE'S accounting industry has reached a crisis point, with the falling number of available professionals forcing firms to start looking to high schools to fill positions.

Accounting is about numbers, and four particular figures clearly illustrate what's going on not only in Brisbane, but internationally.

The first, 300, is the number of invitees to a big four firm's regular expatriate drinks function in London, although it's thought the number of Australians working in that firm's six (the second figure) London offices is higher.

The third figure, 160, is the number of jobs some Brisbane recruiters say they are trying to fill, and the final figure, five, is the number of candidates one recruiter believed was the number of suitably qualified candidates available locally.

So this set of numbers demonstrates that the local market is reflecting the same global shortage of beancounters, but the question is: Does it matter in the same way as the shortage of doctors in regional areas or lack of engineers to build much-needed infrastructure?

Businesses of all sizes would argue it most definitely does, as the continually changing compliance environment pulling Australian-trained accountants internationally also is the work Australian businesses need to have done.

This is especially so in the post-HIH/Enron world, where making sure the numbers add up could be the difference between hefty fines and even jail in some countries.

CPA Queensland president Paul Cooper said current compliance demand was coming from the new international financial reporting standards and changes to US regulations affecting Australian firms trading in the US, while the new tax system was still contributing some work.

And a flow-on effect from the introduction of the GST had been the demand from businesses, especially at the smaller end, to want more information from financial advisers on how to run their enterprises better, he said.

The non-core accounting jobs don't end with business services, with businesses, industry and banking and finance generally prepared to pay higher salaries.

Against this demand is the paltry supply of young Australian accountants, usually with three or four years' experience, who are increasingly heading to financial hotspots like London for both career and personal development.

But what's a mid-20s professional to do when deciding between staying in the town they grew up in, earning $30,000 to $45,000 a year, and living in London, travelling to Europe on weekends, earning £1000 ($2500) a week for contract work?

"There's a track from this office to the airport so worn that I could start an alumni office in London and Dublin," a mid-level firm's human resources head said.

"It doesn't help that every Friday afternoon there are e-mails arriving (from former staff) telling their friends how much money they could be making in London and that they're jetting off to Paris for the weekend."

One recently returned big-four worker estimated two-thirds of his graduating colleagues headed overseas, although it was likely more would return for Brisbane's lifestyle benefits.

"In Brisbane you go to school, go to uni and often end up working with the same people," another London-based Brisbane-educated accountant with a big-four firm said.

"Your skills are relatively easily transferable, you can earn reasonable money, have a completely different life experience, so why wouldn't you go?"

With Australian qualifications seen as world-class, overseas recruiters are even physically coming Down Under to source staff.

Adding to international lures, accounting had not been seen as a "sexy" career, forcing employers to spend more time sourcing and convincing new recruits to join their firm, Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia Queensland manager Simon Grant said.

While accounting is on the Federal Government's skill shortage list to encourage migrants, the numbers are not filling the demand, forcing employers to mostly rely on domestic supply.

One strategy successfully used by suburban practices for many years is linking with local high schools to offer work combined with study as a way to get new staff, Mr Grant said.

At the university level, it is becoming more common for second and even first-year students to change from full-time to part-time study because they've been offered positions in mostly smaller and mid-size firms.

And the ICAA offers the top accounting student in Queensland a six-week paid placement with BDO Stoy Hayward in London.

At the graduate level, firms are being forced to sell themselves to prospective students, even sending congratulatory bottles of champagne with letters of offer, and developing ways to keep workers linked to the firm such as offering a leave of absence to work overseas or secondments.

On top of that, alumni are formed in overseas cities as well as offering finders' fees – rumoured to be up to thousands of pounds in the UK for successful senior referrals.

As in any other supply-demand relationship, salaries, especially at the more junior end, have crept up, which means the end-user should expect to pay more for accounting services.

The shortage at the graduate and mid-level range was unlikely to end in the near future, ICAA's Simon Grant said.

SOURCE - Brisbane Courier Mail
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ANU - undoubtedly the best australian university

The Australian National University's latest ranking as one of the world's best learning centres is more proof of the depth of talent at the university, vice-chancellor Ian Chubb says.

The ANU has been rated as Australia's best university and the 16th best in the world in a list prepared by prestigious British journal The Times Higher Education Supplement.

Harvard University in the US took the number one spot and Britain's Oxford and Cambridge Universities were numbers five and six respectively.

The ANU beat New York's renowned Columbia University, which was placed 19th.

Six other Australian universities were in the top 50.

The University of Melbourne was 22nd, Monash University was 33, the University of New South Wales was 36th, Sydney University was 40th and Queensland University came in at 49th place.

The other Australian universities in the Top 200 were RMIT, Macquarie University, University of Technology Sydney, La Trobe University, Curtin University of Technology, University of Adelaide, University of Western Australia and University of Tasmania.

The table ranks universities on the basis of a survey of 1,300 academics in 88 countries.

Earlier this year, the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Institute of Higher Education ranked ANU as Australia's best university for the second consecutive year.

Professor Chubb welcomed the latest survey and said while all rankings were imperfect, they consistently confirmed the ANU was Australia's leading university.

"So this is another excellent result, not in that the number is 16, but that it provides further recognition of the extraordinary depth of talent at ANU," he said.

"We are determined to deliver research which is as good as - or superior to - any other research in the world in our selected fields.

"A university is nothing without its staff and students and we are excited to see their work acknowledged in this way.

"As Australians we commonly recognise elite athletes, elite singers, even elite racehorses - and it is time our elite academics and students had a slice of the attention."

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Chinese Teachers Enrol at QUT

TEACHERS from China's 80 million-strong Jiangsu province will be invited to train in Queensland under an agreement signed at the weekend.

State Education Minister Anna Bligh and Queensland University of Technology Vice-Chancellor Peter Coaldrake signed the agreement in China.

Ms Bligh, who is on a 10-day overseas mission, said yesterday China was Queensland's biggest source of full-fee paying students.

"China is determined to develop as an economically prosperous nation and education is prized very very highly.

"Since my last mission to China in 2002 the number of Chinese students studying in Australia has grown from 50,000 to 60,000," she said.

And the number studying in Queensland had climbed from fewer than 5000 to more than 6000, most of them tertiary students, contributing more than $50 million a year.

Professor Coaldrake said Queensland already had an agreement with Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu, for 12-week blocks at QUT for the professional development of teachers.

The program would now be offered to the entire province.

He said QUT offered Chinese students broad fields of study, with a greater emphasis on education and health, rather than the "old trio of engineering, science and business".

In Shandong province, Ms Bligh attended the graduation ceremony of Year 10 Chinese students studying the Queensland curriculum at Qilu International Trading College.

The offshore education program, offered since 1995, qualifies students to study Years 11 and 12 in Queensland high schools as a precursor to university.

"Export of education services to China is one of Queensland's fastest growing service exports," Ms Bligh said.

"Ninety-five per cent of the students graduating from this Year 10 program have applied to study Year 11 in Queensland in 2005."

The students are able to "homestay" by boarding with families while studying at Centenary State High School at Toowoomba, Merrimac State High on the Gold Coast or Kawana Waters State High on the Sunshine Coast.

Chinese students pay $9000 a year to study either Year 10 in China or Years 11 and 12 in Queensland.

At Kawana Waters, Chinese student Johnson Zhang is school captain and hopes to study at a Queensland university next year.

Ms Bligh said Chinese students brought not only income but an international perspective for other students.

She said the Queensland homestay program would also be extended to Chinese primary as well as high school students from next year.

"The education export industry is already worth half-a-billion dollars a year to Queensland," she said.

"A state education export strategy aims to make Queensland the country's market leader in education exports."

SOURCE - The Courier Mail
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University of Queensland appoints new International Student Services Director

As Australian universities become increasing popular with overseas students the newly appointed Director of The University of Queensland’s International Education Directorate (IED) is hoping to see a continued increase in the interaction between Australian and international students.

Andrew Everett said one of his main goals would be to build mutually beneficial international relationships and encourage a more global view of higher education.

“International students bring to the University many different life experiences from other cultures; they bring knowledge, skills and information that can be shared,” Mr Everett said.

“They also bring a sense of enthusiasm that encourages domestic students to travel overseas.”

Since 2001 Mr Everett has worked as UQ’s International Development Manager, building offshore links and coordinating University-wide international projects.

He has worked in the higher education sector for the past seven years. Prior to this Mr Everett was employed in the Banking and Finance sector where he held several senior management positions.

In announcing the appointment, UQ’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International and Development) Professor Trevor Grigg, said: “Mr Everett brings to the position of Director a wealth of experience in international education and university administration, as well as extensive experience in the finance industry.”

“I look forward to him working with me as Director as we work in partnership with the Faculties and key central administrative areas to achieve the University’s international goals.”

Mr Everett, who officially takes up his position on November 1, said international students were attracted to Australian universities for a variety of reasons including teaching quality, lifestyle and location.

He said IED helped make the transition to UQ as smooth as possible for international students who were faced with the challenge of adapting to a new culture and way of learning.

“The University has support systems and orientation programs in place to make sure international students are made aware of the options available to them and are able to take full advantage of the learning experience,” he said.

SOURCE - UQ Website
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2005 Alexander Rhodes Scholar declared

UNIVERSITY of Tasmania honours graduate Ted Alexander has been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship for 2005.

A past president and current treasurer of the Tasmania University Union, Mr Alexander, 23, intends to use the scholarship to study a Master of Philosophy in Economics at Oxford University.

He hopes to work in the field of international economics and finance and said he developed an academic interest in his particular field because it "blends the comprehensive academic theory of economics with the real world applications of finance".

Mr Alexander wrote his honours thesis on forward forecast error in the foreign exchange market and gained an average mark of 85 per cent during his third year at university.

While at university he played, umpired and coached a variety of sports.

SOURCE - The Mercury
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ALP attacks Howard Government's university reforms

The Federal Opposition has accused the Government of arrogance for planning to use its Senate majority to push through controversial changes to universities.

Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson wants to ban compulsory student unionism and extend the use of Australian Workplace Agreements on campuses.

That legislation will be introduced after July when new senators take their seats and the Government has an Upper House majority.

Dr Nelson also plans to take legislative control of universities from the states.

He says the sector is being held back by excessive red tape.

"We're in a ridiculous situation at the moment where our universities are competing with the rest of the world and yet we have universities that are being treated as quasi government departments by state governments," he said.

Labor's Jenny Macklin says the plan was not mentioned during the election campaign.

She says it would be an arrogant misuse of the Government's Senate majority.

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Universities face major changes - States could lose control of universities under new Howard Government

The federal government would seize control of universities from the states and introduce workplace agreements for academics under wide-ranging plans outlined by Education Minister Brendan Nelson today.

In a series of interviews with newspapers, Dr Nelson revealed the government was keen to use its majority in the Senate from July next year to push the reforms through parliament.

However, unions warn the planned changes might spark unrest on university campuses and a national strike by academics.

Dr Nelson said he saw no reason why universities should remain under state government control.

"It's a ridiculous situation where you've got say NSW and West Australian universities wanting to work together in tendering for a national centre of research excellence with the private sector and are restricted in their capacity to do so because they've got different laws governing them in different states," he told ABC radio.

Another key plank of Dr Nelson's reforms is a plan to allow academics to negotiate their own Australian workplace agreements with universities.

"It is not acceptable that we face a future where the most mediocre, disengaged and disillusioned academic is basically paid exactly the same as the one that gets in early, goes home late and works his or her tail off for the students in the institution," Dr Nelson said.

"We want to make sure that people in universities are free to be represented by a union, but equally if they want to represent their own interests and negotiate their working arrangements with the university they should be able to do so."

Dr Nelson also intends to reintroduce several other controversial plans, previously rejected by the Senate, including a ban on compulsory student union membership.

However, his plans have not been welcomed with open arms by academics or the National Tertiary Education Union.

"I'm of the feeling that vice-chancellors won't be enthusiastic about that idea because it would put the power to determine the future directions of universities both in funding and in mission in the hands of one minister, irrespective of which persuasion," Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee chief executive John Mullarvey told ABC radio.

NTEU president Carolyn Allport said the plans could spark national strike action in universities.

"There is no way that we are accepting that the government has the right to introduce industrial relations regulations and requirements that have nothing to do with improving the quality of education in this country," she told ABC radio.

"This interference by the government will promote dissention. There's likely to be industrial action there and of course we will not rule out any further industrial action such as national strike action."

SOURCE - The Australian Financial Review
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US university in Australia - Good for us. But why in Adelaide and not in Sydney or Melbourne ? Is this a political issue ?

ADELAIDE, home of the failed multifunction polis, is sponsoring another squib – a new private university. Since a strong private market doesn't emerge spontaneously in the face of competitive public providers, the South Australian Government and SA-based Foreign Minister Alexander Downer are sponsoring Carnegie Mellon University and an affiliate to establish a private university in Adelaide.

Carnegie Mellon is a distinguished private US university with a strong reputation in computer science, business, art and design. It is ranked 62 in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, below the Australian National University at 53 but above the University of Melbourne, which is ranked at 82.

Carnegie Mellon has 8800 full-time equivalent student units, smaller than Flinders University with 10,500 EFTSUs and the University of Adelaide with 14,000 EFTSUs, and much smaller than the University of South Australia, with 21,400 EFTSUs.

The new university seems to have developed from an earlier arrangement of the SA Government. In 2001 the state government spent $1 million on the Premier's Carnegie Technology Scholarships. These scholarships provided tuition fees for students to complete a diploma of information technology taught by the Adelaide Institute of TAFE using a curriculum developed by iCarnegie, Inc, a private company that originated as a subsidiary of Carnegie Mellon University.

Carnegie Mellon is based in the old US steel town of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It has a campus in California and another in Doha, Qatar. However, Carnegie Mellon is not establishing another campus in Adelaide; rather it is backing the new university, and its school of public administration and iCarnegie, Inc will assist the establishment of a new private university.

Unlike other proposals to establish new universities, it seems that this proposal is not subject to a review by an independent, expert panel as required by the national protocol for recognising universities. The SA Government says it will introduce into the state parliament early next year legislation allowing for the establishment of the university and that the new campus is expected to open by early 2006.

It seems that the SA and commonwealth governments will also subsidise the venture.

However you look at it, the state Government's sponsorship of a new fourth university in Adelaide is strange. Only two years ago its economic development board, chaired by former Adelaide University chancellor Robert Champion de Crespigny, considered amalgamating the state's three universities, apparently because they were thought too small to compete nationally and internationally. Despite protestations from de Crespigny and the SA Government, it is hard to believe that the new university won't compete with the existing state universities, drawing students from them and further fragmenting higher education in the state.

The extensive negotiations with Carnegie Mellon were conducted in secret over several months. SA universities weren't told of the proposal until the afternoon before the public announcement. After the announcement, Premier Mike Rann said there would be talks during the next few months with Adelaide's three existing universities to work on how they could benefit from the new institution. But it is hard to see how the existing universities would benefit from the establishment of a competitor sponsored by the state and commonwealth governments. Adelaide University is already strong in computer science, UniSA is strong in business studies and Flinders University has a strong program in public administration.

If Carnegie Mellon were founding a new university in Australia, why would it choose Adelaide? SA has the second lowest level of unmet demand in Australia, above only Tasmania. The Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee estimates that 1100 to 1300 qualified applicants were unable to get a university place in SA this year. Unmet demand was about 7000 in NSW, 6000 in Queensland, 5500 in Victoria and 1500 in Western Australia. Consequently, SA universities enrol a small number of fee-paying students – only 1800 in 2003. This is much lower than NSW (16,300), Victoria (14,300), Queensland (6400) and WA (4800).

The promoters of the new university say they aim to attract international students who would not otherwise enrol in a university in Australia, but again the state does not seem to be the most attractive Australian destination. In 2003, only 7000 international university students came to SA, a fraction of those studying in other states. Victorian universities attracted 48,000 international students studying onshore, NSW enrolled 45,000, Queensland had 35,000 and WA universities enrolled 13,000 in 2003.

This suggests that the feasibility study to be undertaken will find that considerable subsidies will be needed to make the venture viable. Perhaps the weaker states will start competing with subsidies and tax breaks to attract overseas universities to establish programs. But this does not seem calculated to strengthen Australian universities or even to establish a fair market.

Gavin Moodie is a higher education policy analyst at Griffith University who writes regularly for the HES.

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SOURCE - The Australian
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DIMIA catches 15 illegal Asians

FIFTEEN people, including three children, have been caught in Victoria working illegally or overstaying their visa.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said 10 people had been found working illegally as labourers on two farms in the Goulburn Valley, near Shepparton, while five others were found at a house near Shepparton.

"Of the 15, eight had overstayed their visas and seven have now had their visas cancelled for various reasons including working in breach of their visa conditions," she said.

Senator Vanstone said the 10 people caught on the farms had been detained while arrangements were made for their deportation.

The five found in the house had been granted bridging visas to give them time to make their own arrangements to leave the country.

Of the 15, seven were Malaysian, seven were Indian and one was from Thailand.

There were seven men, five woman and three children.

SOURCE - Melbourne Herald Sun
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50 staff to go at crisis-hit RMIT

About 50 staff at RMIT may lose their jobs by the end of the year as the financially troubled university and TAFE struggles to break even against a $30 million budgetary shortfall.

The acting vice-chancellor, Chris Whitaker, has told staff and the governing council this week that about 50 non-academic positions have been identified as redundant. The first five letters were sent out this week, with affected staff being given five days to come up with options to save their jobs.

The National Tertiary Education Union has lodged dispute notices, accusing RMIT of failing to consult as required. The union's RMIT branch president, Jeanette Pierce, said most affected staff are still busy, but their letters, seen by The Sunday Age, suggest their jobs are disappearing because the university is outsourcing their work or intends to do so. "It weakens the lines of accountability, and it is not cheaper," she said. "It might be more convenient, but the university has failed to show that it will save money."

More jobs may be on the line as departments look for savings. In an email to staff last Tuesday, the Property Services head, Chris White, proposed a restructure in which some divisions would be closed and their work assigned to consultants and contractors on a project basis instead.

Professor Whitaker said there were situations where outsourcing was cheaper, but the practice is contentious at RMIT. Expenditure on management consultants, contractors and casuals ballooned in 2001 and 2002, adding to financial instability.

Many consultants were employed to advise on restructuring and "major change initiatives" under former vice-chancellor Dr Ruth Dunkin, who resigned in August. Staff sources say there is little to show in terms of streamlined processes or reduced administrative costs.
More jobs may be on the line as departments look for savings.

Professor Whitaker is trying to get RMIT back on its financial feet before a new vice-chancellor is appointed, probably in March. The position was advertised Australia-wide yesterday and a selection panel has been appointed. The panel includes two governing council members from outside the university and a council staff representative, but the Student Union lost a motion to add a student representative.

Members of RMIT's governing council last week also expressed concern about the proposed staff redundancies when many consultants and contractors were still on the books. Ross Hepburn, chairman of the council's Finance and Major Initiatives Committee, said they had asked for a report explaining what jobs these people were doing and whether they were still necessary.

The 50 redundancies are the first in a wave of measures aimed at getting RMIT back on its feet over three years, following the collapse of a computerised student administration system in 2002 and sluggish international student enrolments this year.

The computer collapse in 2002 left RMIT with a $17.7 million operating deficit, but a subsequent Auditor-General's report revealed an underlying financial instability caused by ballooning overheads and inaccurate budget forecasting in 2001 and 2002.

After a State Government ultimatum to get its house in order, RMIT projected a $14.9 million operating surplus for 2004. The surplus was based largely on projected 15 per cent growth in international enrolments, but instead, numbers barely increased, leaving RMIT with a $30 million revenue shortfall as of September.

Dr Whitaker said RMIT had until the end of the year to rein in expenditure.

Many senior academic staff are bitter about the situation. They told The Sunday Age that school heads warned executive management last year that 15 per cent international growth was unrealistic and unachievable, but the target was imposed nonetheless to achieve a paper surplus to satisfy the State Government.

SOURCE - The Age
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Two former Melbourne University Student Union presidents accused for frauds

TWO former presidents of the failed Melbourne University Student Union are accused of setting up companies and creating false identities to win lucrative business contracts from the union.

A Melbourne court was told that Darren Kenneth Ray, president of the union in 2002, and Benjamin Cass, president in 2000, had used the names "Marcus Kemp" and "Duncan Fisher" to win or maintain the business contracts for running student elections.

Court-appointed liquidators questioned the pair yesterday as part of a three-day hearing and have issued dozens of summonses in relation to the misappropriation of tens of thousands of dollars.

The hearing comes nearly a year after a liquidator's report recommended police investigate the union over the altering of records, awarding of contracts, rigging of elections and travel schemes. Nobody has been charged with any offences.

The Supreme Court ordered the $14million business be wound up in February this year after the damning liquidator's report.


Gary Bigmore QC, for the liquidator, told the court Mr Ray, a law and commerce student at Melbourne University, set up BV Sachsen Group Australia Pty Ltd and used the name Marcus Kemp to win a contract to carry out student surveys at the 2003 university orientation week.

"In kindergarten some children come dressed as Spiderman. In this union, people were coming dressed as Duncan Fisher and ... it was just a hall of smoke and mirrors, wasn't it, Mr Ray?" Mr Bigmore said.

Mr Ray said the general manager of the union at the time was aware he was behind the company, but he was concerned other members of the student council would not approve of the arrangement.

"I was concerned I would be discriminated against because of my background in MUSU and my political beliefs," said Mr Ray, who was from the Labor Right faction.

The court heard that Mr Cass, a public policy and management student at Melbourne University, had set up a company called Global Tertiary Solutions that had won the right to run the 2001 student elections, but GTS lost the contract when it was discovered Mr Cass was behind the company.

He took the union - at the time run by a Left faction member - to court, where the matter was settled on the grounds the company could run the 2002, 2003 and 2004 student elections.

He then formed a separate company with the same name but different directors.

Mr Cass said he and at least one casual employee of GTS used the name Duncan Fisher on letters and documents "to ensure GTS was able to compete on a level playing field in student unions".

He said both the general manager and the then president, Mr Ray, knew he was behind the company. GTS ran the 2002 student elections - during Mr Ray's tenure as president - for which they were paid more than $100,000.

Both Mr Ray and Mr Cass were members of the University Labor Party club.

The financial troubles plaguing the union were first highlighted in The Australian in June last year, when an auditor's report warned that a $44million property deal entered into by students could send the union broke.

SOURCE - The Australian
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