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TIMES World's best IT, Engineering and Science University Rankings

The TIMES HES has come out with World's Top 100 IT and Engineering University Rankings as well as the the World's Top 100 Science University Rankings.

The Australian Universities featuring in these rankings as well as the Career News can be found at by clicking here.

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Program to deliver extra training for GP nurses

The University of Wollongong will be the first tertiary institute in New South Wales to introduce a postgraduate practice nursing course next year.

The 12-month program is expected to provide extra training for registered nurses who prefer work in general practices over hospitals.

Wollongong will be the main campus to host the course with an estimated 20 places on offer.

The university's Nursing Department lecturer, Yvonne White says graduates will be working closely with the Illawarra and Shoalhaven Divisions of General Practice.

Reported in ABC Regional
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DISCLAIMER : Media releases are provided as is by the source mentioned and have not been edited or checked for accuracy. Any queries should be directed to the source of the article itself.

Universities put in $7m for crisis-hit IDP

UNIVERSITIES have mounted an eleventh-hour bid to save their global student recruitment company, pledging up to $7million to bail it out of its cash crisis.

IDP Education Australia approached 38 vice-chancellors this week seeking funds to keep it trading into the new year. Yesterday it announced the bid had succeeded, with the new money putting it in a "sound financial position" for next year.

Universities have mostly backed it through interest-free loans over two years.

But some institutions remain sceptical about whether the rescue bid will solve the company's problems.

One source said universities were over a barrel because if they had not backed IDP its collapse would have significantly damaged Australia's higher education reputation.

IDP is an independent, not-for-profit company owned by 38 universities and governed by a board comprising mostly vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors.

Its offices in 50 countries co-ordinate student recruitment, marketing of Australian universities, aid projects and English language testing facilities.

It is blaming its financial woes on a drop in demand from foreign students wanting to study in Australia - a revenue stream that brings about $4billion a year in fees - brought about by factors such as a high Australian dollar.

A fortnight ago the company announced it would close seven offices overseas and retrench about 60 staff.

One of the company's most lucrative contracts, with the Botswana Government, yesterday yielded $6million, further securing its cash flow into the new year.

The Weekend Australian understands some universities have promised to lend up to $500,000. A small number of others have refused to back it.

James Cook University vice-chancellor Bernard Moulden said he was not a strong supporter of IDP and it was not a good business model. "They seem to be in danger of over-extending themselves," Professor Moulden said.

IDP president and vice-chancellor of Curtin University of Technology Lance Twomey said the company had received "extraordinary expressions of support" from universities this week.

As reported in The Australian this week, the company was predicting a cash deficit at the end of this month of $3.6million.

Asked how close to the wind it had sailed, Professor Twomey said: "We certainly weren't insolvent."

But he said if the Botswana contract had not come through, IDP would have found it difficult to meet commitments.

Reported in The Australian
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DISCLAIMER : Media releases are provided as is by the source mentioned and have not been edited or checked for accuracy. Any queries should be directed to the source of the article itself.


Hirsute promotion to a professorship

CLEAN-shaven, ambitious gentlemen of academe, throw away those razors, cast off all face-scraping paraphernalia and use the summer break to let facial follicles flourish.

It could pave the way to a prize professorship, or at least a promotion.

The academic beard is either the key to success or could be a fringe benefit of it, two British researchers have found.

Postgraduates Sarah Carter and Kristina Astrom, from the London School of Pharmacy, rated 1795 senior academic staff at 23 British universities, posing the question: Does the use of a beard promote academic progression?

It seems it does: they found that male professors "were significantly more likely to wear a beard than any other male academic personnel".

The UK study found that 21.4 per cent of professors sported a full beard. Readers (16.7 per cent), senior lecturers (13.6 per cent), lecturers (10.5 per cent) and research fellows (12.8 per cent) trailed in hirsutability.

Female staff are offered little comfort: the beard's association with higher status "highlights the influence of physical characteristics in job selection and may have implications for the promotion of women in academia".

University of NSW chemistry professor Brynn Hibbert, bearded since 1976, said facial hair got him his first job.

Arriving in Australia in 1987, Professor Hibbert found his whiskers gave confidence.

"Certainly having a beard gave a certain gravitas to a young academic batting above his station," he said.

University of Technology, Sydney, deputy vice-chancellor (international) David Goodman is not surprised by the study.

At age 11 he knew he was going to be a professor - and he knew he would have a beard.

Why? "There's no question about it: because professors have beards," he said.

UTS Institute for Information and Communication Technologies director John Hughes lost the shaving habit while on a trekking holiday in New Zealand three years ago.

But it was not a professional tactic: "It wasn't a conscious decision that this was going to improve my career prospects."

In this week's edition of The Pharmaceutical Journal, Carter and Astrom write: "When men reach the top of the academic ladder they grow a beard.

"This may be because they are too busy to shave, or they may need to stroke the beard as an aid to intellectual thought."

The researchers cite several studies that found beards were signals of aggression, masculinity and strength. But perhaps there is a glass ceiling for the bearded: they may attain many lofty posts, but few make it to the very top.

According to the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee 2004 yearbook, only one boss, James McWha of the University of Adelaide, is bearded.

Former University of NSW vice-chancellor Rory Hume wore a goatee.

Charles Sturt University VC Ian Goulter, Swinburne boss Ian Young and University of Technology, Sydney, chief Ross Milbourne sported moustaches for the almanac.

"The people who are clean shaven tend to be vice-chancellors or people who don't get to be professors, which is often the same thing," Professor Goodman said.

* The author is not bearded, but may well be by the weekend.

Reported in The Australian
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RMIT to cut jobs and subjects to turn loss into profit

RMIT University can turn this year's perilous $28 million deficit into a $28.5 million operating profit within two years by cutting costs with a "magnitude and intensity that has never been seen", according to acting vice-chancellor Chris Whitaker.

Professor Whitaker anticipates at least 180 non-academic job losses next year, a 2005 deficit of $4million and some cuts to the university's 13,000 subjects as part of the financial restructure.

After a few premature claims of financial stability from the university, including the prediction of a $14.9 million surplus this year, Professor Whitaker said he understood there would be scepticism about the proposed turnaround of RMIT's fortunes.

But there was "no blue sky" involved in the projections, he said.

Professor Whitaker held a media briefing last Friday after The Australian reported the anticipated $28 million budget bungle.

At the time he said that RMIT had been careful not to set itself unrealistic financial targets as it had in the past, particularly with projected targets.

However, the HES understands that the finance and major initiatives committee was split four votes to five on the projected 2005 deficit of $3.8 million.

Four of the committee members wanted to set the deficit at $8.8million "to give the university more room to move if the unexpected happened, like it did with the downturn in international students", according to one source.

The papers given to council and seen by the HES say "the margin for error is narrow - little slippage in timing or dilution of dividends can be tolerated".

RMIT has had a financially fraught three years, beginning with the botched introduction of a $12 million computer system in 2001. The system eventually cost the university $47 million to repair.

It is understood that the gap between the predicted surplus and the final deficit for 2004 - the "blue sky" - was largely due to the miscalculation of the number of full-fee-paying students who would attend the university and how much each student was worth.

RMIT was also too optimistic in forecasting aggressive growth in the international student market, which has been progressively tightening.

The predicted 2004 surplus was based largely on the basis of an anticipated 15 per cent growth in international enrolments, but 2005 is expected to bring the institution no more than about 5per cent growth.

In the vice-chancellor's executive budget statement for 2005, seen by the HES, Professor Whitaker says the "core business of the university is not financially sustainable".

"It is also clear that, based on our current operation and financial performance, the university will not be financially sustainable in the future and so financial recovery strategies are planned to be implemented in 2005 as a matter of urgency."

He also says that the forecast income from fee-paying domestic and international students has been written down by $8million.

Professor Whitaker said last week that $15 million of this year's deficit was due to the deferral of a federal government payment that was due in December but will not arrive until January.

He said $8 million was down to "restructuring costs" that had not been budgeted for last year, including the redundancy of about 50 non-academic staff late this year and early next year - and another 180 for next year.

The rest, he said, was because of the "shortfall in meeting targets for full-fee-paying students, including the international market".

He said he hoped the cost-cutting measures would see RMIT with a $40 million surplus by the end of 2007.

The university's financial troubles have already seen the resignation of former vice-chancellor Ruth Dunkin, who oversaw the disastrous computer program, and head of finance, Cameron Moroney.

Reported in The Australian.
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DISCLAIMER : Media releases are provided as is by the source mentioned and have not been edited or checked for accuracy. Any queries should be directed to the source of the article itself.


University of Tasmania to play a major role in NASA's Saturn mission

Tasmania is set to play a major role in the global mission to find life on Saturn's largest moon early next year.

On Christmas Day the Huygens probe will be launched from the spacecraft Cassini, from where it will head towards Titan.

It is expected to parachute through Titan's atmosphere on January 14 and will hopefully land on the surface.

Once landed the probe will help determine the contentious question of whether Titan has a liquid ocean, the temperature of the interior and whether life exists there.

The University of Tasmania will use its two radio-telescopes, in Hobart and South Australia, to help track the motion of the probe as it parachutes through Titan's atmosphere.

The telescopes will join up to another dozen in China, Japan and the US to monitor how the wind affects the probe's landing.

University head of physics Prof. John Dickey said that the 26m telescope at Cambridge, just east of Hobart, would play a crucial part.

"We're much further south than any of the others so we have a particularly important role to play," Prof. Dickey said.

He said that the mission aimed to combine all the telescope signals to give a precise measure of the spacecraft's movement as it passed through the atmosphere.

"If those winds catch the spacecraft and drive it very fast it may not survive the landing," he said.

"The critical part we play is in monitoring the health and condition of the spacecraft as it parachutes in."

Another advantage Tasmania would have, Prof. Dickey said, was the ability to see the spacecraft during the whole time it fell through the atmosphere.

But this vantage point also comes with a heavy responsibility, and the two teams will be preparing for the journey days before the probe is launched.

"When NASA does this kind of thing they spend millions of dollars," Prof. Dickey said.

"As a university facility we can't afford that, so we only have one of anything and it's got to work."

He said that a test drive last month had proved successful but there would still be a lot of pressure on the day to gather the data.

"Here we have just a six-hour window when the spacecraft transmits, and then it's over and we won't have another chance in our lifetimes," he said.

"So we really don't want to stuff up."

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - Tasmanian Examiner
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DISCLAIMER : Media releases are provided as is by the source mentioned and have not been edited or checked for accuracy. Any queries should be directed to the source of the article itself.

Racist group spreads tentacles in Sydney

Reported in the Sun-Herald. Disclaimer : Media releases are provided as is by the source mentioned and have not been edited or checked for accuracy. Any queries should be directed to the source of the article itself.

Police are investigating a white supremacist group following complaints about a race-based hate campaign.

More than 140 Patriotic Youth League posters and stickers have been placed on telegraph poles, road signs and signal boxes targeting Asian-owned businesses and homes in Sydney's north-west.

They bear slogans such as "End all immigration before it ends Australia", "Australian - an identity defined by ethnicity, not paperwork", and "Mass immigration = water restriction".

According to the group's website, it is hoping to recruit high school and university students and has distributed material at Carlingford High School and Marist College.

Superintendent Geoff Beresford from Eastwood Police said the material being distributed was of concern, and that police had launched an investigation into the group.

"Anything of a racist nature or any sort of racial vilification is obviously a concern," he said.

Residents have taken to the streets to remove the material.

The clean-up was organised by Eastwood resident, Mat Henderson-Hau, who first noticed stickers around the Epping area a few months ago.

Initially, he covered the racist material with his own pro-multicultural stickers, then organised Wednesday's community action. "I feel very strongly that multiculturalism does work around here, and I don't like the idea of someone in the area trying to muck with it," he said.

Ryde Councillor Tom McKosker, who also attended the clean-up, has taken up the issue with council.

He raised an emergency motion authorising the general manager to investigate the racist material, with a view to taking Patriotic Youth League to the Anti-Discrimination Board.

"This sort of group is not the sort of organisation we want anywhere in Ryde, and particularly in the Eastwood/Epping area because it is a melting pot of cultures," he said.

Councillor McKosker said Ryde Council would remove any new material postered "immediately". Mr Henderson-Hau is seeking a similar commitment from Parramatta and Hornsby councils.

The league's 23-year-old president, Stuart McBeth, declined to speak to The Sun-Herald. The Sydney branch is believed to have a total membership of 20.

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE : This is the same racist group responsible for attacks on Asian and African students studying at the University of Newcastle and which has now opened a centre at the University of Queensland. Please refer to the following news articles which were published on our weblog in August and September 2004.

August 2004 - Racist attacks on University of Newcastle students

September 2004 - Racist group opens branch at University of Queensland


South Australian Universities face retirement bulge

UNIVERSITIES could face a "sudden crisis" in replacing their ageing academics, according to a leading demographer.

Federal Government figures show a marked increase in the percentage of university staff aged over 50.

Nearly 40 per cent of South Australian academics are in this age group, creating fears of a lack of quality tutors on their retirement within the next 15 years.

"If nothing is done, the universities will have trouble recruiting and staffing our universities with high quality academics," University of Adelaide geography professor Graeme Hugo said yesterday.

"It's like all workforce planning. It must be done over a period of time, rather than being left to a sudden crisis situation."

Between 1991 and 2003, the number of SA university academics aged over 50 has increased by nearly 10 per cent. Both Flinders University and the University of South Australia reported greater increases.

"In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a massive increase of younger staff who were baby boomers coming into the system," Professor Hugo explained. "Now there is a bulge of those people in the system and they will all retire at about the same time."

Professor Hugo said the universities had to perform the "three Rs" in order to prepare for the exodus.

"They must recruit, retain and have (graduates) return," he said.

Education Adelaide chief executive Patrick Markwick-Smith said planning was crucial in solving the problem. "But I would look upon it positively because, in 10 years' time, it's going to open up a lot of opportunities for young academics," he said.

University of South Australia professor of psychology Tony Winefield, 67, said he was proud of his age.

"I think people of my age still have a lot to offer in bringing all their skills acquired from the workplace," he said. "I don't think there will be a problem in the future because academics can retire when they like and can still work part-time if they are still performing."

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Mining graduates strike gold

DEMAND for mining engineers is so great that recent graduate Sarah Hepworth could have donned her miner's helmet before wearing her graduate's mortar board.

Lured to the profession by an interest in big trucks and blowing things up, Ms Hepworth spent yesterday at the beach celebrating her graduation on Monday.

But unlike many recent graduates, Ms Hepworth doesn't need to begin looking for a job because she has already been recruited by BHP Billiton to work in the Cannington mine in outback northwest Queensland, near Mt Isa.

Graduate mining engineers have one of the highest recruitment rates behind doctors, vets and dentists.

"I like working with big equipment and blowing things up, which is basically what mining engineers do," Ms Hepworth, 21, said.

Ms Hepworth was one of seven men and about 23 women to graduate as mining engineers from the University of Queensland. Most of Ms Hepworth's class are now employed.

"They were having trouble getting people because we were in pretty short supply," she said.

"Some people had their jobs by February, about half the class had their jobs lined up by June and I had the job by the September uni holidays."

Ms Hepworth gave her resume to Cannington recruiters at a careers day, but was also considered for positions at the Argyle diamond mine in the Kimberley and at the Endeavor Mine in Cobar, NSW.

Some Queensland-based mining companies are paying a "golden hello" of $20,000 on top of starting salaries of about $70,000.

And Ms Hepworth said one member of her graduating class was starting on a salary of $120,000.

To earn her $70,000, including superannuation, in her first year, Ms Hepworth will fly from Townsville to Cannington, south of Mt Isa, where she will work underground as part of a crew that works two weeks on, one week off.

"Cannington had the career development and training that I wanted," Ms Hepworth said.

"I didn't apply for many jobs because I knew that I didn't need to -- there are lots of jobs out there for us."

Friends who had graduated in other disciplines, such as electrical and mechanical engineers, had struggled to find jobs.

"I had a friend who did food technology and it took him six months to find a job," Ms Hepworth said.

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - The Australian
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DISCLAIMER : Media releases are provided as is by the source mentioned and have not been edited or checked for accuracy. Any queries should be directed to the source of the article itself.

NTEU takes University of Western Sydney to court

THE National Tertiary Education Union is taking the University of Western Sydney to court over its snap decision to scrap for two years, possibly indefinitely, its intake to osteopathy and podiatry degree courses.

NTEU industrial officer Chris Holley said the matter was listed for hearing next Monday in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

"They made that decision without going through the consultancy process required under the enterprise agreement," Mr Holley said.

"Management told us 'we've made the decision so do your worst', so we're off to the industrial commission to ask the AIRC to order them not to implement [the intake cuts] until they have done what they're required to do under the enterprise agreement."

The union last week called for the university's senior executive to be removed and for auditors to be called in. Mr Holley described the situation at UWS, which is restructuring its schools and colleges and its undergraduate courses, as chaotic.

"They are going through this apparently unco-ordinated series of restructures, they have over 20 formal change proposals and people don't know what campus they're going to be on next year, what they're going to be teaching," he said.

"It is a very chaotic position and the financial position is not very good."

Mr Holley said UWS had a deficit of $13million this year and that "it was looking much worse next year".

Cost-cutting had led to the reduction of tutorials in favour of mass lectures, he said.

After five years of "continuous restructure" morale was "pretty close to rock bottom".

Many academic staff were expected to look for jobs elsewhere.

The cuts to osteopathy and podiatry would cost a number of casual academic jobs, Mr Holley said.

A UWS spokesman said the reforms were designed to "further improve teaching and research, boost student support services, renew older courses, enable the university to develop new courses in high demand areas and reduce costs".

There will be an extra 1000 HECS places at UWS for new students in 2005.

Deputy vice-chancellor (academic and services) Robert Coombes said the university had "a mission to offer students contemporary degrees needed for tomorrow's job market".

"Federal funding arrangements have made it even more important for the university to streamline its academic program," Professor Coombes said.

The HES understands UWS wants to reduce its four colleges to three and its 21 schools to 16.

The four existing colleges are arts, education and social sciences; law and business; science, technology and environment; and social and health sciences.

It is understood that social and health sciences and science, technology and engineering are to be amalgamated.

NTEU branch president Robyn Moroney said the changes reflected a "shoot from the hip" mentality.

"We're over it. We're sick of it. We have no confidence. I'm absolutely gutted ... heartsick about what's happening."

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - The Australian
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Ancient artefacts stolen from ANU

ACT police yesterday released a photofit image of a man they want to question about the disappearance of an estimated $300,000 worth of ancient artefacts from the Australian National University.

They said the man, possibly seen at the western entrance of the arts faculty museum shortly before closing time last Wednesday, was wearing a light coloured hat, a baggy orange T-shirt and loose pants.

He was described as Caucasian, in his early 30s, of medium height and build, and with long brown hair.

The Australian Federal Police, Interpol, Customs, domestic antique dealers and international auction houses were on alert for the items, all Roman artefacts from the first century BC to the third century AD. Arts dean Adam Shoemaker described the theft as regrettable.

Missing are a 2000-year-old bronze portrait head, "an actual reproduction of a visage of a person", believed to be that of Livia, wife of the emperor Augustus, or his sister Octavia.

"It is beautiful to the extent that it has delicately filigreed hair; it's a real loss," Professor Shoemaker said. "We used it for teaching what the real world looked like at that time, what people did and the role of women."

The other four items appeared to have a common, female, theme, Professor Shoemaker said.

They are a gold ring with a portrait head engraved on it with an inset cornelian stone, from the second century AD; a 31.5cm gold necklace from the first or second century AD; gold earrings from the third century AD, "ornate and unusually crafted for that period"; and a vase with twisted handles and a frieze of an erotic male and female design under an arbour.

Professor Shoemaker said one theory was that the thief was working for a collector who possibly had ordered "an assembly of five things".

A cleaner discovered the theft at 5am last Wednesday. It is thought the thief entered the museum shortly before closing time on Tuesday and stayed overnight, leaving through a fire door.

The theft had upset the 40-year-old museum's balance between access and safety, Professor Shoemaker said.

"These are things which you wouldn't want to nail to the floor because they are used by people," he said. "We thought we had the balance right but we're reviewing that at the moment."

There was no evidence the items had been taken out of Australia, but if they had left the country it was most likely they would be bound for Japan or the US, which do not outlaw the keeping of antiquities in private homes.

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - The Australian
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Tasmania short of dentists, 100 more needed

Tasmania is suffering from a severe shortage of dentists, with 100 more needed to bring the State in line with the national average, Australian Dental Association Tasmanian federal councillor Wayne Ottaway said yesterday.

"We have 130 dentists in the State and we need another 100 just to get us up to the national average," he said.

"In many places in Australia, there is one dentist to about every 2000 people but in Northern Tasmania, we have one dentist for about 4500."

The State Government announced this week that an extra public dentist would start work in Launceston next month as part of the Government's goal to reduce dental waiting lists.

Dr Ottaway said that there were 3772 people awaiting general dental work in Northern Tasmania in September, 3583 in the North-West and 2380 in the South.

The situation was almost as grim in the private sector.

"The situation has become progressively worse over the years as another dentist dies or retires or moves and is not replaced," he said.

"One dentist is a significant loss when there are only 130 Statewide."

He said that large communities like George Town and St Helens had no dentists and he predicted that the situation was only going to get worse with a number of Launceston dentists about to reach retirement age.

"The next five years or so are of great concern," Dr Ottaway said.

He said that various strategies had been tried to attract dentists to Tasmania and keep them here.

"You can't train to be a dentist here, which probably puts a lot of people off actually taking up the profession.

"For those who go from Tasmania to study it's a five-year course so they might meet someone over there and not come back."

The Tasmanian branch of the Australian Dental Association had run an advertising campaign extolling the virtues of life as a dentist practising in the State with the theme Practice In Paradise, but with little success.

It has also encouraged the State Government to have dentistry cadetships where student dentists were sponsored for at least part of their training.

A scheme has also been developed between the State and the University of Adelaide for some fifth-year students to have practical training sessions in the Tasmanian dental services public sector.

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Monash University staff lift work bans

Bans on the delivery of second semester exam results have been lifted by staff at Victoria's Monash University.

Employees agreed to lift the bans, which have been in place since last month, after voting to accept management's improved enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) offer.

More than 10,000 students' results had been affected by the bans.

The new agreement will deliver salary rises of 24.5 per cent by March, 2008.

The National Tertiary Education Union's Victorian secretary, Matthew McGowan, said the EBA also included a number of improvements in employment conditions, namely parental leave.

"At this stage this is the best outcome that has been gained for staff compared to any of the other leading Australian universities, and goes some way towards recognising the integral role that staff play in establishing Monash's status," Mr McGowan said.

"We call on the rest of Victoria's universities who are still bargaining to now follow Monash's lead and finalise new agreements that provide similar recognition."

He said the full details of the agreement were yet to be finalised.

But he said a number of provisions had been finalised including improving maternity leave provisions to 36 weeks paid leave, regulation of academic workloads, restrictions on casual employment, and improved classification processes for general staff.

Mr McGowan also said it was vital the agreement was as far-reaching as possible.

"Having an expiry date of March 2008 will provide the best possible protection to staff whose employment conditions are threatened by changes that the Howard Government has foreshadowed since the federal election," he said.

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - National Nine News
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Foreign students shunning Australia

The number of foreign students coming to Australia to study at university is reportedly declining after a decade of growth.

The slowdown had been so dramatic that IDP Education Australia, an organisation that recruits overseas students to study here, was considering shutting overseas offices and cutting staff, The Australian newspaper said.

More than 200,000 foreign students are enrolled in Australian universities, injecting $1.4 billion in fees, according to the report.

IDP offices considered at most risk of closure were those in South Africa, London, Sweden, Mexico and Brazil.

One of IDP's longest-serving executives, Dorothy Davis, resigned this week, the report said.

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - Sydney Morning Herald
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Ailing IDP to shut offices

FOREIGN demand for places at Australian universities has slowed so much that the body recruiting students to study here is considering shutting overseas offices and cutting staff.

IDP Education Australia is likely to embark on a stringent round of cost cutting as demand from overseas students wanting to study here slows after a decade of massive expansion.

More than 200,000 foreign students are enrolled in Australian universities, injecting $1.4 billion in fees, or 13 per cent of total university revenue.

But for the first time, this year the mushrooming industry has slowed, alarming institutions which look to foreign students as their biggest source of private income.

A special meeting of the board of IDP was held late yesterday ahead of a scheduled board meeting next week.

Members were expected to consider a new company structure being drawn up by consultants Deloitte.

IDP, which is owned by 38 universities, is blaming the downturn in students for a blowout in its debt which is expected to be more than $2million this year.

As part of attempts to rein in costs it is likely to announce later this week that it will close a number of its 90 overseas offices and also shed staff in Australia.

While IDP will not confirm which offices will close, it is understood the most vulnerable are in South Africa, London, Sweden, Mexico and Brazil.

The company's problems have been exacerbated by a high turnover of senior management in the past 18 months, amid low staff morale.

And this week one of its longest-serving senior executives, Dorothy Davis, resigned, bringing to eight the number of general managers who have left this year.

Vice-chancellors are divided on how to overhaul the not-for-profit company that has been operating for 34 years.

Some universities believe it can only survive by putting it on a commercial footing in an industry where it is facing tough competition from other countries vying for fee-paying students.

A high Australian dollar, a rise in living costs and an increase in university course fees are contributing to the difficult climate.

And many countries that have been traditional recruiting markets for Australia are building up their own education systems, making it more attractive for students to study at home.

Last month chief executive Lindy Hyam told The Australian that at no point in the company's history had all these factors converged.

"Everything's changed. We can't operate the way we have in the past," she said.

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - The Australian
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Monash and CDU students left in the limbo due to strikes

THOUSANDS of university students in Victoria and the Northern Territory have been left in limbo as striking staff at Monash and Charles Darwin universities withhold their exam results.

Monash University has taken the National Tertiary Education Union to court over the strikes, while Charles Darwin has failed to convince the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to prevent staff from withholding results.

Bitter and protracted pay disputes have led to the strike action.

Both the universities' management and students have complained it is inappropriate that students are caught in the "pointy end" of industrial disputes.

Students at both universities had the opportunity to apply for exemptions from the bans before they began.

At least 70 per cent of students at Monash - including honours students and final-year education, medical and nursing students - have received their marks but that has still left nearly 20,000 students unable to access their results at the university.

About 15,000 students at Charles Darwin have also been affected. Management and students at the university have attacked the local branch of the NTEU as "immoral and unethical" after it started withholding results on Monday.

Union organiser Mark Wheeler said the decision to hold back results was made as a last resort after long-running negotiations with management failed.

But while students could apply to receive their results under special circumstances where the information was necessary, he admitted that the move would disadvantage students.

While the pay dispute is ongoing at Charles Darwin, an end may be in sight at Monash. Staff at two campuses met yesterday to discuss the strikes and the remaining campuses will meet today.

It was recommended to staff members at yesterday's meeting that they accept the latest offer from the university and cease the action.

The Monash case was adjourned in the AIRC yesterday and a spokesman for the Victorian branch of the NTEU said no final decision would be made on the strikes until today's meetings.

Charles Darwin's student union president Kent Rowe said most students were angry they could not get the results they needed for further education or employment. "The general feeling is it's a bit disappointing for students because we have worked hard all year for our degrees and now it's got to the crunch time and we are not getting our results," Mr Rowe said.

"We put a lot of time and effort into our degrees and we expect to get our results."

Scott Snyder, executive director of corporate services at Charles Darwin, said in a message to staff last week that the decision was unfortunate.

"[Although] the university recognises the right of staff who are union members to participate in protected industrial action, I find actions that [affect] parties outside of the university, especially students and their families, to be immoral and unethical," Dr Snyder said.

He said the university hoped there would soon be a fresh approach to bargaining as long as it was understood "all the goodwill in the world will not miraculously expand the university's income".

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - The Australian
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First Ever Rankings of All Australian Universities


The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (owned by the University of Melbourne) has come out with the 'First Ever' Rankings of All Australian Universities. These Rankings stress upon the International reputation, prestige and research of universities. The Melbourne Institute's International Standings of Australian Universities can be downloaded by Clicking Here

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UNE students win trip to Germany

Two students studying German at the University of New England have won scholarships to study in Germany early next year.

UNE's Chris O'Neill and Elizabeth Brazier are among students from Australian, New Zealand and Brazilian universities who will travel to Germany for the six-week intensive language and culture course starting on January 3.

Chris, from Winmalee in NSW, who is studying (on campus) for a Bachelor of Languages degree, will do the course at the Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg, in the south of Germany.

Elizabeth, from Faulconbridge in NSW, is studying by distance education for a Bachelor of Arts degree, and will travel to the University of Leipzig in Germany's east.

A Senior Lecturer in German at UNE Dr Linda Hess-Liechti said "both universities have excellent reputations and have a special relationship with UNE, as quite a few of our recent prac teachers have come from Freiburg and Leipzig."

The scholarships, awarded each year by the German Academic Exchange Service, are worth more than $3,000 each.

Several UNE students have received them over the past decade.

Chris hopes to improve his reading, writing and speaking skills as much as possible, and is looking forward to learning more about German culture, visiting historic cities and monuments, and experiencing the German winter.

His dream is to live and work in Germany at some time in the future.

For Elizabeth "experiencing the art and music of famous cities such as Leipzig, Potsdam and Dresden will definitely be a high point."

"I hope to improve my German skills significantly, while increasing my awareness of German culture," she said.

"Although I am majoring in Classical Languages, I have continued with German throughout my degree because I found it so challenging and so much fun.

"I have also discovered how important a knowledge of German is in the field of Classics because there is an abundance of scholarly material in that language."

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SOURCE OF ARTICLE - The Armidale Express
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Dispute over Victoria University board

Critics of a plan by Victoria University to replace its academic board say the university's academics could be gagged and the quality of courses could be damaged.

The university's governing council will tonight decide whether to merge the academic boards of its higher education and TAFE arms, and form a reduced 35-member education board.

Academic boards are seen as the representative voice of academic staff in Australian universities regulating the quality of courses, academic standards and advising the council on policy issues.

The president of the Victoria University branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, Paul Adams, said the merged board would remove the academic voice from the running of the university.

He said revelations of an alleged $30 million fraud by a network of nine staff members and contractors at the university highlighted the need to keep the university accountable.

Dr Adams, a member of the current academic board, said the changes seem "to be laying the grounds for a future disaster".

He also said academics needed representative institutions within the university to maintain intellectual freedom.

In council documents seen by The Age, Victoria University vice-chancellor Elizabeth Harman said the academic board was central to good governance but there was evidence of weak standards.

Professor Harman gave the recent example of errors in the midwifery course that led to a formal inquiry by the Nurses Board.

"It is time to encourage a fresh and more effective approach," she wrote. "This should focus particularly on its central role as custodian of academic standards and quality assurance."

The issue is shaping as a stoush between the university and the tertiary union.

In the document, Professor Harman said while the union had a legitimate place in industrial matters, it should not have a role in the academic board's oversight of academic standards.

The proposed new board would reduce the number of elected academic staff from the previous majority to less than one-third of the merged body's 35 members. The proposal is one of several to be considered at the council meeting.

Last month the academic board voted against the board merger. Three of four faculties have voted against the changes.

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Artist puts up collection for scholarship

A Tasmanian artist's personal collection is to be sold to raise money for an arts scholarship.

Seventy-nine-year-old abstract artist Marie Edwards has donated 40 of her paintings and hundreds of drawings to the University of Tasmania.

They will be sold as part of an exhibition of her work this week at the School of Art's Plimsoll Gallery.

Amanda Wojtowicz from the University of Tasmania Foundation says she is confident the art work will sell.

"Were expecting quite a deal of interest, we have a large number of people already expressing interest, indeed some people we are already hoping will buy," she said.

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Why is DIMIA so cruel ?

Flick to the December page of the 2005 calendar marking the International Day of People with a Disability and you will find a picture of a smiling Rophin Morris lying on a couch.

But while the calendar was produced by the Federal Government to celebrate the abilities of disabled people, the 12-year-old Indian-born child and his family are not welcome to stay in Australia because he is autistic. His parents, Daisy and Jude Morris, are calling on Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone to exercise her power to overturn an Immigration Department decision to reject their application for permanent residency.

"Disability is nobody's fault," Mrs Morris said. "It is not our fault, it is not his fault.

"I feel like we are being punished for something that is beyond our control, as a mother I'm feeling that. If we had a normal child, we probably could have walked into the country because we are both skilled."

Rophin has lived with his parents in Canberra since they arrived in Australia 10 years ago from India, when he was almost two.

It was only when he was four that he was diagnosed with autism. Today he attends a regular school in Canberra but in a special autism unit.

"He can play on the computer, he's learning to swim," Mrs Morris said. "He's very much like a regular boy except that he cannot talk and understand a lot of stuff that normal kids could understand."

Mr and Mrs Morris work as counsellors in areas such as suicide prevention, domestic violence, the homeless and young offenders.

In 2002, after eight years in Australia on temporary student and business visas, their employer, the Queanbeyan Baptist Church, offered to sponsor their application for permanent residency.

Earlier this year, the family learnt their application had been unsuccessful because of their son's health. They have lodged an application seeking ministerial intervention and are waiting to hear from Senator Vanstone, hoping for a reprieve.

This week immigration officials visited them. They cancelled their temporary visas and issued them with bridging visas.

Senator Vanstone yesterday said the officials visited the Morris family because their migration agent had failed to lodge an application for a bridging visa, necessary while an ministerial intervention is being considered. She denied the Government was trying to deport the family.

While Mrs Morris is concerned the controversy has "marred the spirit of the calender", she said it was beyond her control and urged Senator Vanstone to help her family.

The calendar was produced by the Department of Family and Community Services department to coincide with yesterday's International Day of People with a Disability.

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New golf institute to open at Griffith University

The PGA will open an International Golf Institute at Griffith University's Nathan campus on the Gold Coast next year.

The Institute, which will offer degree and post-graduate courses in golf course business and management, has received $471,000 in government funding.

The joint venture between the PGA and Griffith University will provide opportunities for students from grade 10 to professional golfers who could chose a business path rather than be lost to golf.

It is anticipated enrolments will pass 400 by 2007 with an estimated return of $17 million for the local community.

The idea is to pitch the Institute to the Asian market, offering an elite business and management program.

Announcing the funding, Queensland Minister for State Development and Innovation, Tony McGrady, said the government wanted a bigger slice of golf which was a big business in Queensland.

"In Asia many business deals are made on the golfing green and business students and executives see the game as part of business life," said Mr McGrady.

"Our International Golf Institute will be able to provide the business management and specific golf course management training that the Chinese and other Asian nations are looking for."

PGA of Australia Executive Officer Max Garske said the IGI would provide opportunities and training for those currently in the golfing industry as well as an avenue for players who may not want to continue on as professionals who would otherwise be lost to golf.

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La Trobe questions campus poll

La Trobe University says a Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre (VTAC) poll showing fewer students are intending to apply for the Bendigo campus next year is misleading.

The poll, based on VTAC preferences one to three, indicates an 8 per cent fall at Bendigo compared with last year.

Pro-vice chancellor Peter Sullivan says the figures relate to the number of students applying for its three most popular courses - nursing, teaching and business.

He says there will be no reduction in the number of places in Bendigo.

"In terms of the campus overall there's no reduction, in fact we've actually had some really delightful increases, in fact increased placings that we'll be able to offer in the sciences area," he said.

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VCs threaten more fee rises

VICE-CHANCELLORS have signalled they will be forced to seek a further round of student fee increases unless the Howard Government offers to index taxpayer-funded university grants to wage growth.

The admission came as new a study of household debt revealed HECS debts in Australia now outstrip the money owed on credit cards.

The AMP NATSEM report on household debt found the total HECS debt is $9.1 billion, compared with the $7.3 billion owed on credit cards.

Men are more likely than women to owe $20,000 or more.

For the first time, university chiefs have confirmed the round of 25 per cent increases to HECS fees will be swiftly eroded as wage claims increase running costs.

In a review of ALP policy, Labor also confirmed yesterday it would dump its pledge to reverse the HECS increases, but left the door open to fee relief.

Most universities have agreed to increase student fees by 25 per cent from

2005, securing the freedom to set their own fee regime with the passage of the Nelson reforms last year.

In their submission to the 2005 federal budget, however, universities have warned they will have to push for another round of fee hikes to ensure quality.

"Without change, universities will have to seek further increases in the real level of student contributions to ensure effective quality education continues," the submission states.

"This has been borne out by rising levels of student to teacher ratios, which have risen from 16 in 1996 to 21 in 2003, larger class sizes, reduced access to staff, greater use of casual staff and restrictions on access to libraries and resources."

The threat coincides with federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson's confirmation to key stakeholders that the long-awaited inquiry into indexation will be conducted by the Department of Finance and the Department of Education, Science and Training.

Universities argue the existing funding mechanism is not realistic, in that it indexes funding and student contributions to a mixture of inflation and the Safety Net adjustment for wages. Because the wage adjustment used falls far below the real increases in salaries at universities, vice-chancellors argue they are losing up to $568 million a year compared with what they call a more appropriate indexation arrangement.

Dr Nelson's long delay in announcing an inquiry has angered vice-chancellors, who also were surprised to learn the investigation will be conducted in-house.

Opposition education spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said yesterday the ALP policy review had agreed to the key principles of increasing the number of university places, ensuring affordability and abolishing full-fee places for Australian undergraduates.

However, with most universities introducing HECS fee increases of 25 per cent from next year, the ALP will not go back to the drawing board over the detail of the policy.

"Our commitment was to reverse this 25 per cent HECS increase before January and clearly we won't be able to do that," Ms Macklin told the HES. "Today's decision does however commit the ALP to ensuring university education is affordable and that universities are properly funded."

The National Tertiary Education Union has backed vice-chancellors' concerns that there can be "no confidence in a review that is undertaken only within the confines of the Department of Education, Science and Training".

"Our major concern is that by making it an in-house affair, the Education Minister is setting the stage for a review that will only tell the Government what it wants to hear, that the present indexation arrangements are satisfactory, whereas the complete opposite is true," NTEU president Carolyn Allport said.

"The funding crunch facing our universities was highlighted by the Productivity Commission's recently released report Economic Implications of an Ageing Australia, which showed that between 1995 and 2001 real funding per publicly subsidised university student fell from $10,030 to $8133 - a decline of approximately 26per cent."

The Productivity Commission found that every year since the mid-1990s, government funding for universities has declined in real terms by between 8.8 per cent and 3.4per cent a year.

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Monash bid to lift ban on students' results

Monash University will take its academic union to court today to try to lift a ban on the release of students' end-of-year results.

The ban was put in place by the Monash branch of the National Tertiary Education Union in late October over stalled enterprise bargaining negotiations.

But for the bans, the university's 40,000 students would have received their results today. However, exemptions by the union will allow 70 per cent of students to receive them.

The university will activate an application this morning with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to have the bans lifted. A Monash spokesman said they would be lifted next week if this was successful.

The university lodged the application with the commission last Friday and has since been in conciliation with the union.

Carol Williams, president of the Monash branch of the Tertiary Union, said the court action was "sabre rattling" as the university had little rationale to support its action.

Dr Williams said the university did not value its staff, who were bearing impossible workloads. "Monash management cannot see its way free to demonstrate how it values its staff by paying it a salary which is commensurate with its estimation of its own standing," she said. "While it likes to consider itself one of Australia's leading universities, it simply is not in terms of how it pays its staff."

The Tertiary Union represents academic and general staff.

Dr Williams said the bans were not penalising students as the industrial action was aimed at protecting the quality of their education. She said most students who applied for an exemption from the bans - to go for a job, scholarship or to apply to graduate - were granted one immediately.

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UNSW inks quantum computing pact

In an effort to foster knowledge sharing and reduce research costs for a new generation of computing, the University of New South Wales' Centre for Quantum Computer Technology has entered into a joint study agreement with IBM's Thomas J Watson research centre.

Dr Richard Sharp, COO of the quantum computing centre - in which eight Australian universities cooperate - said partnering with a large industry player, like IBM, will benefit the commercial applications of the technology, in addition to research collaboration.

Sharp said in the past quantum computing was put in the realm of science fiction but, because it has been successfully demonstrated, this is no longer the case.

Examples of where quantum computing will shine include searches of large databases, engineering modelling, and sorting through genomics data, Sharp said.

The centre's researchers have a path of some 15 years towards devices that ought to be useful with the first milestone slated for within three years when the centre hopes to create a fundamental building block - a quantum computing chip.

"Full-scale quantum computing may be may be 15 to 20 years away but we are doing work that is useful in the nearer term," he said. "For example, we can manipulate individual atoms [providing] the industry with the ability to design novel transistors."

IBM Australia's corporate affairs executive John Harvey said there are some technologies from which the centre can extract economic rent, but the goal is to be a significant player in quantum physics in 10 years time.

"Twenty years ago I think we would not have entered into an agreement with the UNSW centre for quantum physics because we would have tried to do it all our self," Harvey said. "We are doing an open innovation model where we are taking work from outside and combining it with our own for a better and lower-cost solution."

Harvey said innovation is the only way Australia can compete and be cost-competitive globally.

University of California Berkeley's centre for open innovation executive director and author of Open Innovation, Professor Henry Chesbrough, said that, because the quantum computing centre is a cooperative of eight universities, a variety of perspectives will be seen.

"In a long-term technology that's exactly what you want," Chesbrough said. "There are too many unknowns and you can't really judge what the right path is, technically. By using this approach IBM is gaining access to not just one point of view but eight - plus the multiple points of view that are inside IBM."

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - Computer World
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Union rails at closure of courses at University of Western Sydney

THE National Tertiary Education Union has passed a motion of no confidence in the executive of the University of Western Sydney after it closed the intake for osteopathy and podiatry for two years without consulting the professions, students or applicants.

There will be no intake for osteopathy and podiatry for next year and 2006. Staff, students and the professions' national peak bodies say they were not consulted.

UWS deputy vice-chancellor (academic and services) Robert Coombes said the university regretted any inconvenience but it had to review the courses and couldn't have made the decision any sooner. The courses had been suspended because the university wanted "to take stock of ... the viability, the quality of outcomes, and also our ability to attract full-time senior staff".

The review was part of a wider analysis. "We need to review so we can look at the courses where we have strength," Professor Coombes said.

UWS would spend the two years "liaising with professional bodies, getting feedback from graduates, talking with students and seeing if there are better ways of attracting staff". The osteopathy profession had been contacted in October about a review, Professor Coombes said.

Applicants, who have until January6 in NSW to change their preferences, will be informed of the suspension in writing this week.

Australian Osteopathy Association president Stephen Robbins told the HES: "There was no consultation. It was just a snap decision." He said the association was concerned with the timing of the closures. "It's been made late in the year when students have finished their HSC [NSW Year 12 finals] and a lot of them have put in applications [for places in osteopathy]." Mr Robbins feared some mature-age students might have quit their jobs to attend summer school as a precursor to studying osteopathy.

Osteopathy at UWS took in between 50 and 80 first-year students each year. They were required to finish a three-year degree course and a two-year clinical masters. Student Sam McCarthy said he feared the course would be dropped altogether to make way for a medical school at UWS, which was due to open in 2007. Student Osteopathic Medical Association president Alexis Bahar called on UWS to commit to osteopathy beyond that year.

Professor Coombes said resurrection of the courses depended on the review. "If all of the things we have concerns about are addressed adequately, then we may have an intake in 2007," he said. He denied the move was designed to clear the decks for the medical school.

Podiatry Council of Australasia chief executive John Price said the decision to cut the field's intake for two years would worsen a nationwide shortage in the profession, reducing the number of podiatry graduates by 40percent.

The decision at UWS reflects a rationalisation in health sciences: Curtin University also shut down its podiatry intake this year.

The NTEU's UWS branch yesterday said it would "lodge a dispute regarding the university's failure to adequately consult over proposed changes to college and school structures". It also vowed to publicise what it called "the university executive's arbitrary unilateral actions and financial incompetence".

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - The Australian
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Monash cuts IT jobs as IT students flee

For almost a decade it was the university's boom faculty, a magnet for thousands of young students who dreamed of high-paid jobs in the world's fastest growing industry.

Now, after the end of the information technology boom, the IT faculty at Monash University has also fallen on harder times. With the contraction in IT job prospects, student numbers have plunged by almost a third in two years, and the university is looking at cutting up to 100 staff from its IT faculty.

Faculty head Ron Weber yesterday confirmed that a faculty review and restructure could result in up to 70 academic and 30 administration jobs being lost.

In a memorandum to faculty staff, seen by The Age, Professor Weber said full-time IT student numbers had been in "marked decline" since 2002 when 5800 students were enrolled. Next year the faculty expects fewer than 4000 full-time students, below the numbers it initially predicted. "We ignore these dramatic changes to our circumstances at our peril," he wrote.

As a result of a strategic review, the number of undergraduate courses will be halved, from eight to four, and the number of schools reduced from seven to five.

IT faculty staff contacted by The Age were frustrated by confusion about how the review would be implemented. Several staff expressed bitterness that the university had treated IT like a "cash cow".

"The IT faculty has literally poured millions into the university over the last 10 years, and been the leading IT school in Australia," one staff member said. "Many staff feel very much they've been hit in the neck."

Professor Weber said the number of job losses was difficult to predict as the transition process to the new faculty structure would not be known until at least March. "We're not just going to go through a situation where there's an immediate termination of jobs. This will be a careful process," he said.

Professor Weber said the downturn in the IT market was being felt across all Australian universities as well as internationally, following the dot-com bust. "Whenever you get into a difficult situation you have to reflect and from that we've got a much stronger degree structure," he said.

President of the Monash branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, Carol Williams, said the university was taking a short-term view and could afford to cross-subside the faculty.

Dr Williams said Monash was prepared to take advantage in exploding IT growth from 1994 to 2002 but "cut you off dead" when times were bad. "Of course in three years time they'll find they need to hire staff again," she said.

She would not rule out industrial action, but said any such action would be directed at the university, not the faculty.

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - Sydney Morning Herald
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Asian students in Adelaide addicted to gambling

A 17-YEAR-OLD school student from China lost more than $40,000 in five months at an Adelaide casino, exposing widespread but hidden gambling addictions among Asian students studying in Australia.

Underage Year 10 student "Brian", who cannot be identified, said he used fake Hong Kong identification to enter the Skycity Adelaide Casino along with other overseas secondary school students, losing two years' tuition and up to $20,000 in one week.

His distraught mother, Min, who flew in this week from Guangdong province, tearfully explained that she and her husband had borrowed from parents and siblings to send their only son to Australia for a decent education.

The incident had implications for Australia and for Adelaide as a safe destination for Chinese students, according to Robin Fan, a gambling counsellor with the Overseas Chinese Association.

Mr Fan said young, isolated and underage students were required by immigration officials to keep large sums of money in local bank accounts, Mr Fan said.

"They are lured to the gambling table," he said.

"I hear from the classmates and friends of many about the problem gamblers ... and some of them are very young. One university student lost around $200,000."

He said Brian's loss was the largest and most serious he had heard about among Chinese secondary school students, who comprise half of Adelaide's overseas student population.

He has dealt with 500 cases of gambling addiction in the overseas Chinese community since 1997, and says most students are deported or quietly brought home to China by mortified parents.

Education Adelaide, a state government body that promotes Adelaide as a destination for overseas students, described Brian's case as a "wake-up call".

"This highlights the need that there are young people here who are more vulnerable and we should do all we can to ensure that they understand how to management their money," said Education Adelaide CEO Patrick Markwick-Smith.

A spokeswoman for the casino said it was "a bit premature" to consider returning the money if there was no proof that it had been gambled illegally by an underage student.

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - The Australian
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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.

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Surge in British, skilled migrants

FOR the first time since the Howard Government came to power, migrants from Britain and Ireland have outstripped those from Southeast Asia.

Settlers from English-speaking nations accounted for almost half the 111,000 new migrants in Australia last year, compared with just 37 per cent when the Howard Government took office in March 1996.

New Immigration Department figures reveal an extraordinary spike in the total number of migrants from Britain and Ireland settling in Australia in the past two years, with the numbers jumping from 8749 in 2001-02 to 18,272 in 2003-04. The total has grown 90 per cent compared with the Howard Government's first year.

This compared with 16,799 migrants arriving last year from Southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam, The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Victoria and Western Australia are absorbing the growth in Australia's permanent settler intake. NSW's share of new settlers has dropped from 45 to 35 per cent in the past eight years.

NSW Premier Bob Carr has often complained that Australia's immigration rate is too high. But NSW still takes more migrants than its 25 per cent share of the Australian population.

Victoria's share has risen from 20 to 25 per cent over the past eight years, while Western Australia, the favoured destination for British migrants, has raised its share from 10 to 14 per cent.

The number of English-speaking skilled migrants has surged as a result of the Howard Government's immigration policies, new research by the Australian National University shows.

Another positive outcome of the Government's policies, according to demographer Deborah Cobb-Clark's research, has been the dramatic cut in the unemployment rate among newly arrived migrants.

The total number of new migrants has soared by 30 per cent in the past eight years, with English-speaking migrants accounting for almost all that growth. Migrant skill levels have also increased dramatically.

Dr Cobb-Clark's research showed more than 42 per cent had university degrees compared with 32 per cent before the balance was changed in 1999.

The changes, implemented under Philip Ruddock's period as immigration minister, reduced the quota for family reunions and refugees, and increased points for skills.

Dr Cobb-Clark said the changes achieved their aim.

"More people are coming in through the skills filtering process, and the filtering process has itself become more effective," she said.

The research conducted by Dr Cobb-Clark showed that since changes were implemented only 9.9 per cent of new immigrants remained unemployed 18 months after arriving. The unemployment rate was 22.3 per cent before the changes.

Economist and immigration specialist Glenn Withers said skills and connection with Australia were being used to select who came to Australia under the refugee program, with barely 10 per cent of refugees coming as a result of recommendation from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Department of Immigration's annual review of where permanent settlers come from and where they go shows immigration from the main English-speaking countries rising by two-thirds over the past eight years. The number of Indians permanently settling in Australia has tripled to 8135, while the number of South Africans and Zimbabweans has doubled to 7469.

Professor Withers said people coming to Australia from Commonwealth countries found it easier to get their professional qualifications recognised.

The number of New Zealanders settling in Australia is modestly higher than eight years ago, at 14,418, but sharply down from the peak of 25,165 reached in 2000-01 before rules were tightened to make it harder for New Zealanders to claim Australian welfare benefits.

Most of the migrant growth has come from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Professor Withers said Chinese immigration would rise as the number of Chinese students in Australia increased.

Australia's refugee program is continuing to respond to emergencies, with the crisis in Sudan supplanting the war in the former Yugoslavian states.

The biggest intake of refugees to Australia last year came from Sudan, with 4600 settlers. There has been no flow of refugees from other African war zones, such as Ivory Coast or Congo.

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - The Australian
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DIMIA catches 37 illegal workers in Sydney

NEARLY 40 people have been detained after an immigration operation targeting homes and businesses in Sydney.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone today said the operation targeted 34 premises, including manufacturing, retail and sex industry businesses.

"Of the 620 people questioned, 15 were in Australia unlawfully and 29 had their visas cancelled for working in breach of their visa conditions," she said in a statement.

"Of the people located, there were 29 men and 15 women.

"There were 10 people located from Indonesia, seven from India, seven from China, six from South Korea, three from Malaysia, two from the United Kingdom, Pakistan and Fiji.

"One person was from Bangladesh, one from Canada, one from Afghanistan, one from the Philippines and one from Israel.

"As a result of these locations, 37 people are now detained in Immigration detention where arrangements will be made for their removal from Australia as required by law."

The remaining seven people were granted bridging visas to make arrangements to leave the country, Ms Vanstone said.

The premises targeted were in suburbs across Sydney, including Haymarket, Glebe and Marrickville.

NSW police, Centrelink and the Ministry of Transport helped in the operation.

Three women were found working in the sex industry, she said.

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - The Australian
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Gold Coast to get a new medical school

IN a few months, biomedical sciences student Andrew McLucas hopes to be immersed in a world of medicine, having grabbed one of 65 places at Bond University's new medical school.

The 23-year-old Gold Coast-based student is vying with more than 700 applicants for a place at Australia's first private university medical school.

If he succeeds he will have to pay $45,000 up front for his first year of study, then $15,000 a semester for the remainder of the $225,000, five-year undergraduate course. But Mr McLucas thinks it will be worth it.

He said the private university offered smaller class sizes and more input from students into teaching arrangements.

"I also think it is a really exciting field with the new technology that is coming through, especially in biotechnology. We are going to be able to diagnose and treat people much better in the future," Mr McLucas said.

Bond was announced yesterday as one of three universities accredited by the Australian Medical Council to open a medical school next year. In the largest single expansion of university medical training, new schools will also be opened at Griffith University on the Gold Coast and at the Catholic University of Notre Dame in Fremantle.

The new schools - offering 65 undergraduate, 80 graduate and 80 graduate places, respectively - mean that by 2010 an extra 225 doctors will be graduating each year.

The Government will provide HECS-funded places at Griffith and Notre Dame, which will equate to fees of $24,000 a year at Notre Dame.

The new students will join about 1200 others enrolled each year at the five established Australian and one New Zealand medical school.

AMC president Joanna Flynn said the accreditation process reflected a change in medical education, with a greater focus on student-directed learning, increased breadth of clinical experience beginning from the first year, and more emphasis on communication skills training.

Australian Medical Association president Bill Glasson said the extra places would be significant in the longer term in helping address workforce shortages.

SOURCE OF ARTICLE - The Australian
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DIMIA catches 27 illegal workers

Minister for Immigration, Amanda Vanstone, said today a joint operation in the northern region of Victoria by officers from her Department and Victorian Police had resulted in the location of 27 people who were either working illegally or had overstayed their visa.

‘Community information led to the location of these people at various residential addresses in the northern towns of Beverford, Lake Boga, Robinvale and Red Cliffs near Mildura,’ the Minister said.

‘The operation highlights the on-going effectiveness of my department’s compliance operations in detaining people who are unlawfully in Australia or who breach their visa conditions.’

The Minister reminded people working in Australia without permission that if they were here illegally, it is not a matter of if, but when they would be caught.

Of the 27 non-citizens located, there were 16 men and 11 women. Ten were in Australia unlawfully and 17 had their visas cancelled for breaching no work conditions.

Twenty-six were detained and transferred to immigration detention, where arrangements will be made for their removal from Australia, as required by law.

One person was released on a Bridging Visa to give them time to make their own arrangements to depart the country.

The people located were from Malaysia (18), The People’s Republic of China (3), Fiji (3) and one each from South Korea, Vietnam and Nepal.

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Students lose out in RMIT admin bungle

The 'corporatisation' of RMIT's administration system has created a bureaucratic nightmare. Claire Miller reports.

It used to be so easy. When RMIT students had a problem with enrolments or personal records, they went to administrative staff at the school where they were enrolled. Changes and corrections were done on the spot, effective immediately, and the students were satisfied.

Not any more. RMIT's determination to introduce a computerised student administration system has done more than just damage the financial bottom line. The centralised system, and the university's efforts to patch it up over the last 18 months, have created a bureaucratic nightmare.

Interviews with students, general staff and academics have revealed a dysfunctional internal structure characterised by long delays, misplaced records, poor lines of accountability and masses of paperwork. International students are at risk, as inaccurate personal, academic and financial records can endanger their visas.

The Student Union's students' rights officer, Liz Thompson, said delays in something as simple as changing address details had led to students missing important letters, such as for academic review hearings. A no-show meant automatically notifying the Immigration Department.

Delays in processing enrolment variations have led to students being billed for subjects they weren't doing, and being denied access to online learning materials. Students then became stressed about falling behind when visas depended on academic performance.

The administrative problems are compounding student angst over rising class sizes, rising fees and fewer student-teacher contact hours planned for next year as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Daryl D'Souza, a senior lecturer in the school of computer science and IT, said tutorial sizes will rise from a maximum 25 to 34, and some laboratory sessions will be reduced from weekly to fortnightly, as RMIT struggles to balance its books. The institution has a $30 million budgetary shortfall caused by international enrolments falling short of projections.

At the same time, academic staff are sinking under an increased workload. Academic numbers at RMIT have risen slightly from 993 full-time equivalents in 1997, to 1077 in 2003. A staff freeze means proportionately more are also casual teachers who aren't available outside class.

In the same period, RMIT's students have shot up from 27,591 to 38,200, with onshore international students almost doubling from 3675 to 7073. A survey by the National Tertiary Education Union's RMIT branch in May found permanent staff were working an average 9.8 hours a week unpaid overtime.

Branch president Jeanette Pierce said the survey was part of a campaign to force RMIT management to accept excessive workloads were widespread.

"Increasingly, they are bringing in people in financial roles without any experience in the education sector... It is all very well to deliver corporate-style financial management, but it comes unstuck because they don't understand the enterprise of delivering teaching and learning. People have been working their butts off for this organisation, and it is not still strong because the management has been so terrific."

The associate professor at the school of education, Heather Fehring, said she was working 60 hours and more, including 10 to 12 hours on administrative tasks. School support staff previously did these tasks, and problems were resolved quickly because they knew the academics and their programs.

"Now my administrative tasks have increased because I type up my own student class lists and maintain my own student records because I do not have direct access to the AMS system even as a program manager responsible for two degrees," Professor Fehring said.

"I could just say no, but when I say no, it is the students who are punished, who don't get the education they deserve. We have gone from one extreme to the other".

Mr D'Souza said staff had more students, more marking, more demands to publish. They also had more paperwork in teaching, research and administration, to comply with quality assurance reporting to federal and state governments.

Quality assurance included student services such as exam reviews where students can see their papers and question staff about the results. Expanding into international campuses means staff having to write up to five different exam papers for the same subject for exams at different times in different locations.

"All these are good initiatives to have on board," Mr D'Souza said. "But they haven't addressed the impact on workloads."

He said workload allocations did not take into account activities such as reviewing new textbooks to improve subjects, more stringent exam preparation and review requirements, subject reporting and delivery improvements. "The university has useful forums for teaching and learning, but academic staff just do not have the time to attend such forums."

The situation is undermining RMIT's claims to being student-centred and student-friendly, but there is also consensus the institution is not alone. The pressures stem from tertiary deregulation and falling federal funding.

All universities are under enormous pressure to attract fee-paying students, research grants and sponsorship, and exploit the often limited opportunities for commercialising research. Corporate-style management means increased outsourcing and casualisation.

It is just that RMIT's troubles became public when a new computerised student administration system collapsed in 2002, creating a $17.7 million budgetary shortfall and a cost blowout in contractors, consultants and casuals hired to try to fix the problems. The fiasco exposed underlying financial instability through poor budget forecasting and rising general overheads.

The vice-chancellor, Professor Chris Whitaker, acknowledges RMIT has many challenges. "A decade ago, RMIT got over 80 per cent of its funding from the federal and state governments, which was reliable, it was good - comfortable," he said. "Last year, it was 37 per cent. The other 63 per cent we have to go out and get. All universities are in the same position, and it is getting very competitive."

Professor Whitaker said RMIT has to be more flexible and adaptable in its cost structures, so that it could adjust to lean times, yet had the capability to respond when the good times returned. "We have built complexity into our working systems that are not adding value, so we have to simplify the way we do things around here, and I have not met anyone in the university who disagrees with that."

The vice-chancellor said it was a smart move to make it easier for students to interact with the university through measures such as online enrolments, as well as rationalising subjects to avoid duplication across schools. He said online services would reduce costs and generate significant cash for teaching and learning.

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