The Week That Was (3 May)

Next financial year repayment rates for HELP loans are announced with a 5.6 per cent increase in the threshold for each income band. The starter salary is $54,434, up from $51,560 this. Top rate is 10 per cent on incomes from $159,600. Cue hollow laughter from HELP debtors reading government advertising, “from July 1 every taxpayer gets a tax cut.” 


Adelaide is equal first local government area in Australia for the biggest proportion of renters who are international students – 24 per cent. The other is Burwood, in Sydney. SA Premier Peter Malinauskas will need a plan to house the influx of internationals he expects once Uni SA and Uni Adelaide merge – a plan which deals with outrage over property development.  

Singapore developer Wee Sur Holdings has a development application for a 19 story, 700 bed student residence in Adelaide city. It is on the site of the Crown and Anchor pub, a music venue locally loved as “the Cranker.”  The façade would stay but that isn’t enough to placate protestors and Greens MLC Robert Simms has a deploring motion before the chamber in which he suggests alternate city sites for a tower. If there is ever an award for opposition to education expansion  in CBDs Adelaide will come close to Hobart.


The Australasian Council on Open and Digital Education publishes a new edition of its Benchmarks for Technology Enhanced Learning. There’s an interesting new one on technology-enhanced learning spaces, which sets out a one to five rating for performance measures and indicators. Liane Joubert (ANU) is thanked for her work on it.


The National Health and Medical Research Council announce $411m in Discovery Grants to 229 researchers – very quietly. The link to the list is in small type below bumf about the program here


Here’s a point for the “do degrees deliver good jobs” debate university thought leaders do not want. The 2024 pre-budget report from the Commonwealth’s Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee mentions that as of last May, “ a large proportion of unemployed persons have high levels of education attainment” – 25 per cent a Bachelors or better.  


Property industry lobby, the Student Accommodation Council argues international students are not driving up rents and soaking up accommodation, only accounting for 4 per cent of rentals. And more purpose-built student housing would bring the benefits of more students, without hurting renters. Perhaps the Council should come back in a couple of years when the political cycle has moved from bipartisan ideology of fewer international students being good; when Australia starts to recognise it needs the money they bring.  


The Australian Research Council’s discussion paper for its review of the National Competitive Grants Program includes a standard government disclaimer that, “no representation expressed or implied is made as to the currency, accuracy, reliability, or completeness of the information contained in this publication,” and “the reader should rely on their own inquiries to independently confirm the information and comment on which they intend to act.” And who pray has the information about the NCGP – other than the ARC?


YTD international enrolments for February (updated April 26) demonstrate that the Feds visa cuts weren’t biting then. But bite they will.

Commencements for all sectors and nationalities were 177,000, which is 20,000 up on last year and 40,000 higher than the last pre-pandemic year. Total enrolments were 703,000, nearly 20 per cent up on February ’19.

YTD HE commencements were 88,000 for February, 8,000 up on Feb’23. VET starts were 41,000 in ’23 and 50,000 this year.

HE starters from India were down by nearly 4,000, to 4,000;  but VET commencements from India were up by more than 1,500, to 10,000.

But there are fewer starts to come. Home Affairs reports education visas granted for the financial YTD to March (249,000) is way down on the full 2022-23 financial year (499,000).

Higher ed visa grants for the first three quarters of ’23-’24 is 154,000, compared to 261,000 for all of ’22-’23. VET has halved, from 128,000 in ‘22’-’23 to near 62,000 last FY.

The figures for India confirm suggestions that Home Affairs takes a dim view of the educational aspirations of its applicants with 28,600 visas for HE study awarded this financial year, compared to 62,000 last. The VET figure is way lower; 5,000 this FY to date and 22,000 last.


Charles Sturt U is back in the big smoke, opening a North Sydney CBD campus, managed by education services giant, Navitas and teaching, business, accounting and IT. It hasn’t been gone long – it bailed on its previous Sydney teaching centre, managed by Study Group, in ’21. 



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