Cuts will see 10,000 students miss out: universities

Ten thousand students will miss out on government funding for university this year, peak body Universities Australia says, as the sector looks to accommodate $2.2 billion in funding cuts by the Turnbull government.
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More than 190,000 students are expected to commence university from March, after a similar number graduated last year, but the government has frozen public funding at 2017 levels.

The freeze is not indexed, which means after inflation of at least 1.5 per cent most universities will face a choice between cutting student places, research, facilities or back office costs.

“The impact will vary from university to university,” said Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson.

“Some will be forced to offer fewer places in some courses to avoid a budget black hole. Others will have to dig into critical maintenance funds or will lose the funding they need to run outreach into regional and remote Australia.”

If universities opt to save on student places all of them will have to come from first year students, as universities have already committed to funding those who have commenced their study.

According to body representing universities, the 1.5 per cent figure would therefore be tripled to 4.3 per cent of all new students, resulting in the funding gap of up to 10,000 student places.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has criticised the sector for not finding enough savings outside of places for students.

The University of Melbourne recently announced a new $1 billion engineering school, while the University of Sydney will spend tens of millions of dollars building a second campus at Westmead.

A 2017 Deloitte analysis found universities were diverting 15 per cent of funding to administration and marketing, doubling from 6 per cent in 2010.

“Are universities really saying that they can’t find a meagre 1.5 per cent of efficiencies across their $17 billion budgets?,” Senator Birmingham said.

“If so, then they should be embarrassed for putting administrative and marketing budgets before their students.”

The remarks, which will kick start another year of tension between the sector and its minister, come as university administrators become increasingly frustrated by the government’s push to tighten the sector’s belt so that the government has room to move on corporate and personal income tax cuts.

Global ratings agency Moody’s warned on Friday that Australian universities would have to increasingly rely on international students for funding, resulting in greater volatility in the market and putting smaller institutions at greatest financial risk.

Ms Robinson said universities had budgets set in place when the government suddenly announced the $2 billion cut at the mid year economic update on December 18.

The move, which did not require legislation, came after the government’s reforms were killed off in the Senate, with the Nick Xenophon Team rejecting key elements of the $2.8 billion package and calling for a “Gonski style” review of the sector.

Ms Robinson said as government funding recedes, universities will be under pressure to enrol fewer students in expensive but crucial courses such as nursing, IT, science and engineering.

“These are areas where there are already skills shortages in the economy, a situation that will only get worse as the university cuts begin to bite,” she said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

10 signs your Sydney suburb is becoming gentrified

Gentrification is a polarising topic. Take Kings Cross as an example.
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Some people love the fact it is being transformed with luxury apartments, safe, clean streets and posh boutiques. Others wish it was still the place where you could dance until dawn and negotiate an obstacle course of pizza vomit.

But love it or hate it, gentrification is as much a part of Sydney life as fireworks, a permanent peak-hour and humidity.

Suspect your own little suburb is being gentrified? Here are 10 steps to identify how far down the road it has already travelled: Step 1: Struggling artists:

Always the first wave in the gentrification process, think of artists as the canary in the coal mine of real estate; if they survive for 12 months … it’s time to consider investing in a soon-to-be built “lifestyle” apartment.

Take Marrickville as an example. This once sleepy ‘burb was known only as a place with more Greeks than Athens. Matter of fact, the only reason you’d have for visiting Marrickville was for the baklava and fetta.

Then the artists moved in with their hoodies and spray paint, taking up residence in abandoned factories and above grungy old pubs. They paved the way for the next step ??? Step 2: Menfolk sporting beards

Is your local barber shop trendy and thriving? That may be a sign of gentrification.

Notice an influx of hirsute individuals in your once-quiet little suburb? If yes, it could be a fully fledged hipster invasion.

One way to tell, is to check out your local barber shop. Is it now some hyper-real version of how it looked in 1976, except the old Aussie Post magazines have been replaced by Treadlie, Frankie and Mad? And does the Brylcream now cost $22 a tub? Does the proprietor offer a dram of single-malt with every short-back-and-sides?

If the answer is yes the invasion is on, and it may already be too late to turn back the hairy boats. Step 3: Cold press coffee

The aforementioned hipsters bring much baggage with them and among that baggage – apart from flannelette shirts, a fixie and an obsession with uncomfortable Japanese selvedge denim – will be a slow-drip coffee thingy that looks like something out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

If you see one of these on the counter in your local cafe (formerly a Gloria Jeans, but renamed CoffeeSmith) next to a tray of expensive tortes from Black Star Pastry, it’s time to call the removalists ??? you just got priced out of existence. Step 4: A craft beer brewery:

Craft beers are a dead giveaway. Photo: Alana Dimou

The halfway point in the gentrification process is always the establishment of a craft beer brewery. It will be run by people with sleeve tattoos, old American cars and a Staffordshire terrier.

The brewery will produce myriad beers, but all of them will taste like a bucket of hops and set you back $15 a schooner. Step 5: Families arrive:

The young families who can’t afford so much as a backyard garden shed in Bondi, inexplicably see the financial value in an old worker’s cottage in Dulwich Hill that needs a $500,000 renovation to bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

The cottage will be draughty, dark and have so much rising damp the furniture floats around the living room. But at least it will have a concrete backyard the children will never use. Step 6: The struggling artists depart:

Finding themselves unable to afford their factory home – which has since been turned into fashionable warehouse apartments with exposed beams and authentic graffiti – the artists will head west to the Blue Mountains.

Those who managed to sell their works to a few clueless middle-class families may be able to stump-up for a freezing cold cottage in Blackheath. Step 7: Barefoot bowling:

Barefoot bowls.

No longer a place where octogenarians hang out in white, the bowling club becomes a haunt for thirtysomethings to get drunk on craft beer and listen to awful indie bands, or worse ??? folk music.

The greens themselves will be turned over to a jumping castle and packs of screaming infants named Finn and Hugo, who have never heard the word “no”. Step 8: A farmer’s market:

Pumpkins at at farmers market in Sydney.

The advent of a farmer’s market means the gentrification process is almost complete.

An “organic” farmer’s market – where a bunch of Dutch carrots will cost you a second mortgage – is a sign that if you haven’t bought a house in the area by now, you have probably missed your opportunity.

The presence of a chai tent, organic dog-treats stall or Kylie Kwong making dumplings, suggests average house prices are well north of the million-dollar mark. Step 9: North Shore people buy in:

The kids have flown the nest, the nine-bedroom, 12-bathroom home in Pymble is getting too large, and Macquarie Bank is offering a generous retirement package.

What better time to sell the family pile, donate the wardrobe of Trenery polo shirts to Vinnies at Gordo, and move to somewhere, dare we say it ??? a little bit edgy?

Okay, so maybe Summer Hill isn’t all that edgy, but there is some street art on one of the railway underpasses. Step 10: Lifestyle boutiques:

If you’ve noticed lifestyle stores selling expensive soy candles, it’s too late. Photo: Matej Leskovsek for The New York Times

The final stage of gentrification is the appearance of those eye-bleeding-expensive shops that sells $75 soy candles (infused with burnt fig and cinnamon) along with $32 bottles of body wash and $129 toddler dresses.

And if they also sell those useless, drippy, Alessi citrus squeezers designed by Philippe Starck, well ??? Katoomba is looking better than ever.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

ASX starts where 2017 ended: at the bottom

The indicator board at the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) in Sydney, Friday, July 7, 2017. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
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Here we go again. Early days, I know, but already in 2018 we are witnessing an extension of a last year’s clear trend: the relatively poor performance of Aussie equities against their overseas counterparts.

Since the turn of the year the global equity rally has rolled on as investors grow increasingly confident that the synchronised global economic growth which emerged in 2017 has become more entrenched. Shrugging off the recent jump in bond yields, US stocks are up over 4 per cent year-to-date, as are Chinese and Japanese shares, while European equities have added more than 3 per cent. The ASX? Down 0.4 per cent.

That said, when talking about last year’s underperformance the emphasis should be on the word “relatively”, because in 2017 local shareholders made good money.

The ASX 200 generated a notional return of over 11 per cent purely from price gains, and more like 15 per cent after dividends.

But the benchmark sharemarket measure trailed well behind its overseas counterparts. Envy is one of the deadly sins, but it’s hard to avoid the feeling you are missing out when you see price gains of double to triple elsewhere, from Japan to Europe to emerging markets.

A survey of a dozen leading US strategists by Bloomberg late last year showed on average the S&P 500 is expected to end this year at around 2900 points, estimates which included the effect of Donald Trump’s corporate tax cuts.

That implies an 8 per cent increase for the year. Compare that to The Australian Financial Review’s own survey of eight local equity experts, which showed an average ASX 200 forecast of 6266 by the end of 2018, implying a slim 3 per cent gain in the ASX 200 for the year.

Those are price moves, so you need to add in a couple of percentage points for dividends from the US market and more like 4-5 percentage points to predicted returns from the ASX. That gets you to total return forecasts of 9-10 per cent for Wall St in 2018 and 7-8 per cent on the ASX. Pretty close.

For his part, independent strategist Gerard Minack of Minack Advisors reckons Aussie shares will stay Down Under, so to speak, for another year.

“My view is that the global expansion remains fairly healthy and that US equities will underperform global equities [this year], although Aussie equities will probably underperform all global equities,” Minack told clients of Morphic Asset Management late last year.

“The pecking order really is non-US markets, US market, then the Aussie market.”

Not everybody would agree with that analysis – I, for one, think the Aussie economy and sharemarket could do better than expected this year and potentially outshine Wall Street for the first time in a long time. But I’m in the minority.

Nonetheless, there is a very strong consensus that the opportunities in non-US markets look the most compelling. America has led the post-GFC recovery for many years, in both terms of economic and corporate performance.

As Minack notes, American earnings have made new highs every year since about 2011, whereas earnings outside the US continued to fall up to early 2016.

But as global growth has improved and broadened outside the US, investors are now focused on the former laggards, particularly Europe. That means “much more potential earnings upside outside the US”, Minack says.

The New Year’s US dollar weakness also speaks to this trend of investors selling out of American assets to put into other markets with better prospects.

That said, while the outlook looks good, strategists at Morgan Stanley are warning their clients not to expect “an encore” of the stellar gains of 2017.

They see global earnings growth peaking in the first half of this year in an environment of tightening financial conditions as central banks (slowly) withdraw the punch bowl.

Also, confidence is higher now than it was at the beginning of last year, despite 20-40 per cent lifts in major global sharemarkets. Veteran investor Jeremy Grantham of GMO Asset Management recently outlined a final “melt-up” period for Wall Street that sees US stocks climb by a further 25-35 per cent.

The recent weakness in bond markets may, rather ironically, finally convince a whole raft of retail investors that they need to chase returns in the sharemarket, fuelling this final euphoric stage of the bull market. Will Aussie stocks participate in this final phase? Maybe, in retrospect, we will be happier if they didn’t.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

‘Weak and defective’: Judge warns against PM’s anti-corruption plan

stephen Charles QCStephenCharles.jpg
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club in Sydney, Monday, January 1, 2018. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

28 June 2012. AFR. IBAC interim chief Ron Bonighton.Photograph by Arsineh Houspian. +(61) 401 320 173. [email protected]南京夜网Ron Bonighton01.jpg

A judge who helped design Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog says it remains weak and defective, and has warned Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull not to adopt it as the model for any federal corruption body.

Mr Turnbull opened the door to establishing a national watchdog last month – after years of Coalition resistance to the idea – and suggested its powers would emulate Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) rather than the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

But former Court of Appeal judge Stephen Charles, who helped the Baillieu Coalition government design IBAC, says the body continues to fall short despite improvements made by the Andrews government.

“It has a narrow jurisdiction, weak investigative powers and a limited ability to use them, including public hearings, which are critical to exposing corruption to the public,” he said. Mr Charles argues it should be able to use the full suite of its investigative powers at the start of any investigation, unhampered by thresholds – much like ICAC.

“IBAC should certainly not be used as the model for any new national integrity commission unless these defects have been removed,” he said.

“Setting up weak corruption watchdogs are a way of politicians avoiding scrutiny. IBAC was constrained from the start by ministerial advisers afraid that IBAC investigations would damage the government.

“We cannot let this happen federally.”

ICAC on the other hand is sometimes criticised for having powers that are too broad, a sentiment Mr Turnbull seems to agree with.

“New South Wales, we all understand the problems that arise if these things turn into places where hearsay and rumour can be thrown around free of any responsibility,” he told Fairfax Media in an interview last month.

Mr Turnbull said he is not yet fully persuaded the case has been made for a federal body but that “the policy objective is zero tolerance, I take that very seriously”. He is currently considering a Senate report into the issue.

All other parties in the Federal Parliament would support such a body, and polls suggest the move would be overwhelmingly popular with voters.???

Mr Charles has partnered with the Australia Institute think tank – which has led calls for a federal corruption watchdog in recent years – to prepare a briefing paper on IBAC’s shortcomings, to be launched this week.

The paper finds IBAC “has a number of defects that make it a weak watchdog”.

It calls on the Victorian government to further broaden the definition of corrupt conduct in its jurisdiction, strengthen its investigative powers and ability to use them, and widen its ability to hold public hearings.

Currently, the definition of “corrupt conduct” is limited to a narrow range of indictable criminal offences. It must also overcome hurdles built into the legislation before it can use its statutory powers.

IBAC has no powers of arrest, limited powers to search people, to gather and hold evidence, and to have full standing before the courts. And its ability to conduct full public hearings are severely limited.

Mr Charles has warned that if there was a Victorian corruption case similar to the one that brought down former NSW Labor minister Eddie Obeid and his cronies, the IBAC would not be in a position to investigate it.

IBAC vs ICACIBAC still has a narrow definition of “corrupt conduct”; ICAC has a broader remit in terms of what it can investigateIBAC must meet certain thresholds before it can use its investigative powers; ICAC has leeway to fully investigate virtually any credible allegationIBAC lacks a number of the investigative powers of ICAC and probes can be halted via court injunctionsIBAC can only hold public hearings in “exceptional” circumstances; ICAC holds them regularly

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Fewer students make the grade for teaching courses as new standards take effect

Victorian students are abandoning teaching courses as tough new entry standards come into force.
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But those embarking on a teaching career are achieving much higher ATARs than their predecessors.

For the first time, Victorian school leavers wanting to study undergraduate teaching this year had to achieve a minimum ATAR of 65. iFrameResize({ resizedCallback: function (messageData) { }, checkOrigin: false }, ‘#pez_iframeA’);

The change coincided with a 22 per cent decline in offers made to aspiring teachers in the first round of university offers, an analysis by The Age found.

A total of 1933 offers for education or teaching courses were made to school leavers, 220 fewer than last year. The remaining 697 places went to other applicants, down from 1211 in 2017.

It came as the average ATAR of students pursuing education courses increased to 69.53, up from 62.7 last year.

In previous years, some education courses have only required an ATAR of 30.

This turnaround was welcomed by Victorian Education Minister James Merlino.

“We always said we wanted to raise the bar for those wanting to become a teacher to ensure we keep lifting standards in our classrooms,” he said.

The minimum ATAR will be hiked up to 70 in 2019 as part of a state government push to improve teacher quality and stem an oversupply of graduates entering the profession.

All aspiring teachers also have to pass a new non-academic test that screens them for resilience, ethics and empathy.

While the changes will sting aspiring teachers who didn’t reach the benchmark, they have not stopped Joanna Wallace from pursuing her dream.

The former Narre Warren South P-12 College student said she was thrilled to receive an offer to study primary education at Federation University Australia’s new Berwick campus.

“I’ve been wanting to be a primary teacher since year 9 ??? I’m always looking after younger kids and was never really around people my own age when I was growing up.”

She achieved an ATAR of 83.55 and believes the tough new standards will lead to better teachers.

But Joanna Barbousas, the president of the Victorian Council of Deans of Education, warned that the changes could lead to a teacher shortage.

“There are concerns around the short term finances of university education programs and what it will mean for the profession in terms of a decrease in teacher supply,” she said.

Associate professor Barbousas, who is also the head of La Trobe University’s education department, said entry requirements were important but the real focus should be on the quality of courses.

Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace dismissed concerns of a teacher shortage, and said the changes would improve the standing of the teaching profession.

“Teaching is an incredibly complex job and we need to make sure that we have people that can deal with those complexities and deliver the highest quality education,” she said.

The number of offers for some teaching courses has more than halved over the past four years.

A total of 285 first round places were offered at Australian Catholic University’s primary teacher education course in 2014, but this year there were just 131 offers.

The large drop coincided with an increase in the university’s clearly-in ATAR score from 58.5 to 65.

Offers also plunged for Deakin University’s primary teaching course, Victoria University’s Prep-Year 12 teaching stream, and RMIT’s Primary Education course.

The number of people applying for graduate entry teaching has also plummeted. In 2012, 4667 people put education courses as their first preference, but this dropped to 951 people this year.

However, it is possible the figures reflect that fewer people are being offered a place in a course through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.