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NCVER report shows disturbing VET trend

School and Education Campus Review

New figures released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) show a 6 per cent decline in government-funded VET students across Australia between 2015 and 2018, sparking concerns about the state of the sector. However, two
'New figures released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) show a 6 per cent decline in government-funded VET students across Australia between 2015 and 2018, sparking concerns about the state of the sector. However, two jurisdictions bucked the trend by showing growth, analysis by Claire Field and Associates shows. New South Wales, for instance, posted a growth of 26 per cent over the same period. In 2015 there were 318,375 government-funded VET students in the state studying at TAFE as well as ‘other’ providers. The figure jumped significantly to 421, 095 the following year before falling back to 390,945 in 2017. In 2018, government-funded VET students in NSW increased again to 400, 890. Annual 1.9% decline in government-funded VET is not the most worrying figure. There’s been a 6% decline since 2015 – which includes growth in NSW of 26%. Excluding NSW the overall decline was 18% @NCVER @TafeDirectors @ITECAust More at: https://t.co/ecLRNNBayK pic.twitter.com/NO4gdUHW7t — Claire Field & Assoc (@CFieldAssoc) July 19, 2019 The ACT was also another standout jurisdiction in terms of government-funded students. In a similar vein to NSW, the ACT posted solid numbers in 2015 (16, 275) before experiencing a decrease the following year. Government-funded VET student numbers increased again in the following years, with 17,745 such students in the ACT in 2018. New figures from @ncver show another annual decline in the VET sector. Student numbers down 1.9 per cent in 2018, with new enrolments falling 5.7 per cent. Business wants urgent action to boost the ailing sector. https://t.co/vWsywCzR0c — Fergus Hunter (@fergushunter) July 18, 2019 All other states and territories recorded declines in student numbers, with Victoria recording a whopping 26 per cent decrease. Last year an estimated 1.1 million students in Australia were enrolled in a government-funded VET course. The NCVER report also found that overall subject enrolments dropped by 5.7 per cent between 2017 and 2018 and hours and full-time training equivalents decreased by 6.4 per cent over the same period. All the more reason that #FreeTAFE in Victoria is so important Looking forward to a significant boost in Victorian #VET numbers for 2019 VET leads to high paying jobs in skill shortage areas & is a passport to the world of work @NCVER @AVETRA1 @DETVic @31LLENS @CEAV_echo https://t.co/oNUIV0Dy0a — Wimmera SM LLEN (@WSMLLEN) July 18, 2019 The report follows wide-spread concern about the state of the VET sector, with concerns an ailing sector will be ill-equipped to handle the skills shortages and business demands of the future.'

'Evil' US doctoral student spared death over Chinese woman's brutal murder

School and Education 9News

A former University of Illinois doctoral student was spared the death penalty Thursday and sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and killing a 26-year-old scholar from China.
'A former University of Illinois doctoral student was spared the death penalty Thursday and sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and killing a 26-year-old scholar from China. Her parents, disappointed he was not sentenced to death, publicly begged for the killer to reveal where her remains are so they can be returned home. Jurors deliberated about eight hours over two days before announcing they were deadlocked on whether 30-year-old Brendt Christensen should be put to death for killing Yingying Zhang in 2017 as part of a homicidal fantasy, automatically resulting in a sentence of life behind bars without the possibility of parole. The federal trial judge, James Shadid, castigated Christensen in court later Thursday as he formally sentenced him, telling him his \'inexplicable act of violence has taken its toll on so many, first and foremost the Zhang family.\' \'The Zhang family .. must live with the thought that Yingying was ripped away from them by a total stranger, thousands of miles away, fulfilling his self-absorbed and selfish fantasies,\' he told Christensen. The same jurors took less than 90 minutes to convict Christensen last month for abducting Zhang from a bus stop, then raping, choking and stabbing her before beating her to death with a bat and decapitating her. Prosecutors called for the death penalty, which the Zhang family also supported, but a jury decision on that had to be unanimous. Christensen, who has never revealed what he did with Zhang's remains , shut his eyes in obvious relief and looked back smiling at his mother when he heard that his life would be spared. He also hugged his lawyers. Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011, but Christensen was charged under federal law, which allows for capital punishment. Speaking through an interpreter outside court later, her father, Ronggao Zhang, appealed to Christensen to reveal where her body is so that the family can take her remains back to China. \'If you have any humanity left in your soul, please end our torment. Please let us bring Yingying home,\' he said. The US Attorney for Central Illinois, John Milhiser, said that efforts to find Zhang's remains would continue. As he spoke, Zhang's mother, Lifeng Ye, sobbed. When the judge asked Christensen if he wanted to make a statement at the formal sentencing on Thursday, Christensen responded politely, \'No, thank you.\' Minutes later, Shadid blasted him for not taking the opportunity to make a statement for the first time publicly and express remorse, especially when he no longer had anything to lose. \'You could have said whatever you wanted to say for as little or as long as you wished,\' the judge said sternly. \'And yet today, 769 days after you took Yingying's life, you could not muster a simple 'I'm sorry.'\' As the judge chided him, Christensen sat stone-faced, looking straight ahead and not at the judge. Shadid said he hoped Christensen might one day consider an apology before he dies \'lonely\' and \'isolated\' in prison. \'Maybe, just maybe,\' the judge said, \'the moment will strike you to pick up paper and pen and write, 'I'm sorry,' to Mr. and Mrs. Zhang.\' Getting 12 jurors to agree on imposing the ultimate punishment can be difficult. Defence lawyer Elisabeth Pollock geared her remarks in closings on Wednesday toward convincing at least one of the 12 jurors to hold out against execution, urging each not to be swayed by a majority that may support execution. She also sought to humanise Christensen, telling jurors how he once bought a stuffed toy his sister wanted using his allowance money. She teared up as she walked behind Christensen, put her hands on his shoulders and said, \'He is not just the worst thing he ever did.\' Prosecutor James Nelson said during his closing that Christensen is heard laughing as he described in a secret FBI recording how he killed Zhang. \'Pride was dripping from his voice\' about what he'd done, Nelson told jurors. Another prosecutor, Eugene Miller, added: \'What the defendant did was evil.\' Among the most poignant testimony during the penalty phase was from Zhang's mother. She said Christensen dashed Zhang's dreams, killing her months before she had planned to get married. \'My daughter did not get to wear a wedding dress,\' she said. \'I really wanted to be a grandma.\' Christensen's parents took the witness stand, too, and appealed to jurors to spare their son's life. Both said they loved him unconditionally. Christensen, a native of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, began his studies in Champaign at the university's prestigious doctoral program in physics in 2013. Zhang, who had aspired to become a crop-sciences professor to help her working class family financially, had been in Illinois for just three months. It was her first time living outside China.'

What is authentic assessment and do we need it in higher education?

School and Education Campus Review

There are many fad and buzz words in the higher education sphere. Most recently the terms authentic learning and authentic assessment have been spruiked as essential to good pedagogy. But what is authentic assessment and do we need it in higher
'There are many fad and buzz words in the higher education sphere. Most recently the terms authentic learning and authentic assessment have been spruiked as essential to good pedagogy. But what is authentic assessment and do we need it in higher education? The short answer is yes. However, it is more complex than it first appears. Authentic assessment aims to provide students with the replication of tasks they will complete in “industry”, which in itself is a very broad term. Does this mean the tourism industry, auto industry, fashion industry, or some other yet to be defined industry for Gen Z graduates (born after 1995)?  In addition, given the relatively new focus on authentic assessment, does this mean that what we have previously provided students was inherently inauthentic assessment? Hopefully not. Yet, while providing a real-world context for assessment appears logical, the continued dominance of essays and exams across many disciplines suggests we have a way to go in terms of “authenticity”. Authentic assessment and student engagement In addition to forging stronger industry knowledge, authentic assessment is heralded as the answer to dwindling student engagement in higher education, especially for on-campus learners. Indeed, attendance at most universities has dropped significantly as technology provides students with the flexibility of studying from home, on the train or even at the beach or pub. Authentic assessment is the application of “real world” tasks that enable students to demonstrate the attainment of new knowledge and skills within an educational context. There is growing evidence that authentic assessment can enhance student engagement and learning outcomes. This assessment can come in a variety of forms, including simulation of a discipline-relevant task, conducting field research, or pitching an idea to industry, academics or peers. The role of “Industry” Most definitions of authentic assessment claim that having links to industry, and even co-creation of assessment, enables more authentic assessment.  Yet, this in itself creates issues in terms of quality and academic rigour and compliance, as employers are usually unaware of tertiary education standards or the importance of curriculum mapping. It is arguable that most industry training is better suited to the vocational education sector rather than higher education, where more lofty aims are postulated. This said, there can be little argument that the workforce of tomorrow will be more volatile and complex than that of today, signifying the importance of strengthening industry engagement. It is argued that more active involvement with industry provides students with a taste of the future that awaits them outside of university, and therefore better prepares them for the future world of work. Is authentic assessment the “cure” for student cheating? Despite earlier claims by some that implementing authentic assessment will mean cheating will be non-existent, we now understand this is not entirely true. Authentic assessment can help reduce the likelihood of plagiarism and contract cheating, however, it does not provide a silver bullet. Although authentic assessment is widely recognised as an important feature of good assessment design, even the most authentic and personalised assessment task can still be outsourced. As previous scholars have suggested, what is important is that the motivation and opportunity to cheat is minimised. The best thing we as academics can do to reduce student cheating is to design engaging, and perhaps even fun, assessment tasks where the inherent value in completing that task is obvious to the student. Developing a shared understanding of authentic assessment Authentic assessment has the potential to benefits all parties, including students, teachers, administrators and ultimately employers. However, a clear understanding of what authentic assessment is, and how to successfully implement it throughout a degree, is needed. Importantly, this involves a recognition that authentic assessment occurs on a continuum and that there are degrees of authenticity. Indeed, not all assessment tasks must involve working directly on an outcomes-based project for an industry partner. Not only would this be a logistical nightmare, given the number of units in a degree, but it would also be difficult to accomplish given the number of students in some units. It is also unfair to expect first year students to be able to produce work that is of an acceptable standard for industry. After all, this is what they are at university to learn, otherwise they would most likely be employed already. Instead, other forms of authentic assessment such as case studies using real-world data, analysis of recent media articles, or the development of role-play scenarios, may be more appropriate. To embrace authentic learning, teachers need to better understand the opportunities and limitations of authentic assessment and be prepared to move away from the comfort of more traditional assessment tasks. Universities and administrators need to support teachers who want to create innovative and authentic assessment tasks that motivate and engage students. This means providing time, technical support services, professional development opportunities and potentially even financial support to staff. At the same time, industry needs to understand the broader objectives of higher education, around skills development, communication, problem-solving etc. and work within the existing regulatory frameworks that govern the quality of higher education courses. Students, too, need to understand the benefits of more authentic assessment, and realise that not every assessment will be an exact replication of what they will (hopefully) be doing upon graduation. Some tasks will help to develop more generic skills, such as communication and team-work skills. If all stakeholders understand and commit to their role of engaging with authentic assessment, then the potential benefits for all parties, including society, will be realised. Dr Ryan Jopp has co-ordinated a range of undergraduate, postgraduate, and online units at various institutions, across the fields of management, tourism and marketing.  After completing his PhD in 2012, he has had several articles published in top-rated journals and has presented his findings at international conferences. In his role as Academic Director at Swinburne University, he is responsible for ensuring quality and consistency of course delivery. He has also developed his research in scholarship of teaching and learning, particularly relating to authentic learning and assessment. The full version of this article was first published in    Teaching in Higher Education :1-17 .'

Nation’s Teens Unsure How To Measure Self Worth Now That Instagram Not Showing Likes

School and Education The Shovel

Sydney student Lily Maples has been left without any way of determining her value to society, it has emerged. With Instagram deciding to hide the number of likes a post gets on its platform in Australia, millions of people like Lily now have
'Sydney student Lily Maples has been left without any way of determining her value to society, it has emerged. With Instagram deciding to hide the number of likes a post gets on its platform in Australia, millions of people like Lily now have absolutely no way of telling whether they are living a fulfilling life or not. “It’s now totally impossible for me to know whether I’m better than Naomi Benson. Or Katie Wilson for that matter,” Maples reported. “I literally don’t know whether to feel good about myself or not. “Like the other day I posted this selfie that was super hot and my self worth was something like 180, compared with Katie Wilson’s, which I think was less than 100. Actually, I know it was less than 100. It was 89. But the point is, what about today? It could be 200 or 20. I’ve got no way of knowing”. The change will have wider implications, Maples said. She now has no way of telling which Instagram influencers to look up to. “And how do I know if my lunch is acceptable to other people? This is a nightmare”'

Weekly roundup 8: : Research links to ‘re-education’ camps, Grattan departures and reputation rankings

School and Education Campus Review

Hi and welcome to another Campus Review weekly roundup of the top news stories we covered this week. I’m Wade Zaglas, the education editor. All stories can be found on our site, campusreview.com.au. You can either read this summary or listen to the
'Hi and welcome to another Campus Review weekly roundup of the top news stories we covered this week. I’m Wade Zaglas, the education editor. All stories can be found on our site, campusreview.com.au. You can either read this summary or listen to the podcast below. A Four Corners report on alleged links between two Australian universities and China’s ‘re-education’ camps hit the headlines this week. The explosive report revealed that the University of Technology Sydney and Curtin University were reviewing their research funding and approval procedures over concerns research associated with both was being employed in detecting and detaining ethic minority groups in Xinjiang, China. Both universities condemned the alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang and denied any links. Associate Professor James Leibold from La Trobe University, an expert in ethnic minority groups in China, urged Australian universities to sever any links they have with the Chinese Communist Party. “I think UTS and other universities here in Australia that have connections with any party state company, particularly in the military or security sector, needs to end those contracts, and to pull out of those collaborative arrangements,” Leibold told Four Corners. This week the Grattan Institute revealed it will be ending its Higher Education Program , which is as old as the institute itself. The decision coincides with the departure of program director Andrew Norton, who will leave the institute in September. The Higher Education Program contributed significantly to the policy directions of the sector over the years and offered practical solutions and recommendations to improve it. Reflecting on Andrew Norton’s time at as the institute, Grattan CEO John Daley said: “Andrew [Norton] is truly irreplaceable, and in view of his departure Grattan has made the difficult decision not to extend the Higher Education Program further.” Finally, another set of international rankings was released last week –  the Times Higher Education Reputation Rankings . Australian universities doubled their representation in the rankings this year, with six Australian institutions ranking in the top 100. The University of Melbourne was our top performer this this year, securing equal 44 th – three spots higher than last year. The University of Sydney, ANU, Monash, UQ and the University of New South Wales also secured top 100 spots. The Reputation Rankings is based on an invitation-only survey of more than 10,000 leading academics from 135 countries. The questionnaire asks each respondent to list the top 15 universities for teaching and the top 15 universities for research. And that’s another weekly roundup for Campus Review .'

Moonboorli (Beyond) – Ocean Stories

School and Education National Science Week

Join Uncle Shaun Nannup and Marine Science Masters student Alanna Kursar speaking about Ocean Stories. Drawing on Indigenous knowledge, relationships between us, the water, animals and the environment, you will be guided through an introduction of
'Speakers: Shaun Nannup and Alanna Kursar Join Uncle Shaun Nannup and Marine Science Masters student Alanna Kursar speaking about Ocean Stories. Drawing on Indigenous knowledge, relationships between us, the water, animals and the environment, you will be guided through an introduction of the ocean and why it is so important. Aware of the value this marine environment holds for us, and what is being lost, it is increasingly important to unite traditional ecological knowledge and create emotional connection to what lays below.'