Monday, May 30, 2016

Australian university places still mainly filled by better-off students despite uncapping

This is a good example of shallow Leftist thinking leading to a result the opposite of what was intended.  A measure designed to help the poor has helped the rich.  Dumbing down university admission standards to help the poor sounds right for about 5 minutes -- until you look at the source of the problem. 

And the source is clearly the bad schools that the poor are forced to attend.  And you can't fix the schools by making university education dumber.  It is clear what is needed:  Restoration of discipline in the schools so that teachers are free to teach, no matter how poor the catchment area of the school may be.  As it is at the moment, a few disruptive students can hold back a whole class.

And student fees are another deterrent to the poor -- but not to the rich.  So a wealthy family can now get a university degree for their kid even though the kid might not be the brightest

AUSTRALIA’S universities ­remain the playground of the "rich and thick", who are gaining entry to degrees with low scores thanks to reforms ­designed to help the poor.

That has prompted one university head to warn that you don’t "change the make-up of the flock by leaving the farm gate open".

Thanks to former prime minister Julia Gillard’s decision to uncap university places, unis can enrol as many ­students as they wish, with the federal government funding the places and students running up $67 billion in uni loans.

It is estimated that one in four of these debts will never be repaid to taxpayers.

The number of students gaining university places with a tertiary entry mark under 50 is on track to hit 10,000 students this year.

But the target of 20 per cent of students from low-income backgrounds by 2020 is proving tougher to deliver.

The proportion of low-income students attending university had remained ­stable, at around 16 per cent, for nearly two decades.  Uncapping places has lifted it by only about 1 per cent.

University of Adelaide vice-chancellor Stephen Bebbington has previously warned the reforms had not done much to lift participation of disadvantaged kids. "As my father the farmer would have said, ‘You don’t change the make-up of the flock by leaving the farm gate open’," he said.

The Group of Eight (Go8) universities, Australia’s eight leading research universities, have previously warned that the reforms need a rethink. "Although the proportion of students from a low SES background has increased over the past five years, 80 per cent of growth still occurred in students from medium and high SES backgrounds."

There are also claims that wealthy public and private schools "inflate" entry scores with intensive tutoring that leaves those students struggling at third-level.

Curtin University researchers found that schools with higher socio-economic status inflate their students’ university entry scores and hence ­access to university.

Meanwhile, Grattan Institute director Andrew Norton said there was evidence that students from disadvantaged backgrounds who had defied the odds to make it to university performed better than their lower Year 12 scores predict.  "They are resilient and have the work ethic to succeed even if their ATARs are lower."

Some critics are calling for a new debate around whether a university education should be regarded as a prerequisite for all, citing the example of successful Australians, including Paul Keating and philanthropist and businessman Frank Lowy, who did not attend uni.


How the racing industry turned its back on Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne

Now why would that be?  Could it be that her feminist tirade at the Cup condemning men in the racing industry went down like a lead balloon?  The lamebrain seems not to understand the importance of getting on with people.  But you can't expect a jockey to be bright, I suppose. Condemning the men in the racing industry and them expecting them to give you work is about as stupid as Gillard's big feminist tirade -- which ultimately got her turfed out of office when her popularity among male voters dropped to about 20%

Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne was riding for just $190 at a country track in Victoria on Monday when she suffered serious abdominal injuries and was forced to have surgery for an injury which threatens to end her career.

Payne, 30, remains in a serious but stable condition in hospital after the fall in race seven at Mildura - only six months after winning Australia's greatest race in November where she delivered a confronting speech about inequality and chauvinism in the sport.

But riding in Mildura in Victoria's far north-west on Monday and then Casterton on the Sunday before are a far cry from the glitz and glamour of Cup week at Flemington and her ambassadorial role ahead of Rosehill Guineas Day during the Sydney Autumn Carnival in March.

After becoming the first woman to ride a Melbourne Cup winner, on Prince of Penzance, Michelle Payne quickly became the face of racing and was widely sought after - featured on magazine covers and approached for speaking engagements.

But with increasing pressure from family members to quit racing after her latest bad fall - that's where her future may now be.

Aside from taking mounts at Morphetville (including Prince of Penzance's return to racing) for champion trainer Darren Weir, for whom she rode the Cup winner, the majority of rides have been at country venues like Ararat and Pakenham.


Far from bleached, reef’s in the pink

West Australian coral is doing fine while Queensland (Eastern)  coral is extensively bleached.  So any pretense that the Queensland situation is part of a global phenomenon is at least dubious.  There's some very confused thinking about El Nino and La Nina below.  The journalist appears to have the two mixed up

Scientists have discovered that the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef off the West Australian coast — the largest fringing reef in Australia — has escaped any recent coral bleaching and that some areas are in the same condition as 30 years ago.

CSIRO ecologist Damian Thomson said yesterday a major study of the reef that ended this month had found that Ningaloo was unaffected by the current bleaching "event” that has hit Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef and other reefs off WA’s northern coast.

He said the research — funded by CSIRO and BHP Billiton through a $5.4 million partnership — showed Ningaloo was more resilient than expected.

"It’s really pleasing that Ningaloo hasn’t undergone any bleaching — it’s fantastic news actually,” Mr Thompson said.

The clean bill of health will be welcomed by the tourism industry around Exmouth, a town ­reliant on thousands of visitors visiting the reef every year ­between April and July to snorkel with migrating whale sharks. Later this year, tourists will also be able to swim with humpback whales, which is expected to double the length of Exmouth’s $6m tourist season.

Conservationists are worried about the human impact on the reef and have also raised concerns in recent years about ­increased oil and gas exploration — including by BHP — close to Ningaloo Marine Park.

Mr Thomson said while coral bleaching remained a possible future threat to the reef, the sheer number of people visiting the area was its major challenge.

"It’s a relatively small tract of reef when you look at the extent of the Australian coastline, but the number of people that love holidaying there or going there for other activities, it is very well used. That is probably the main challenge, managing that.”

Mr Thomson said bleaching tended to occur on Australia’s west coast during La Nina years, when strong currents from ­Indonesia pushed warm water south to Ningaloo. But during the recent El Nino, those strong currents had not ­occurred, ­resulting in cooler waters.

CSIRO research surveyed 70 sites at Ningaloo and found no coral bleached at locations where bleaching was recorded in 2010. At Osprey, on the western part of Ningaloo, results were as good as those taken in 1987. Ningaloo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011 for its biological diversity and conservation significance.

The findings are for the first year of field work undertaken by the Ningaloo Outlook project, which aims to increase the ­ecological understanding of the reefs.


Old Commo Roz Ward quits Vic government role

Controversial Safe Schools Coalition co-ordinator Roz Ward has resigned from a Victorian government advisory role after The Australian discovered a Facebook post where she labelled the national flag "racist”.

Ms Ward made a Facebook post on Tuesday after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews apologised to the gay community for past discrimination.

The government hoisted a gay-pride rainbow flag on parliament house as part of the event.

Ms Ward posted a photo of the rainbow flag on Facebook with the comment: "Now we just need to get rid of the racist Australian flag on top of state parliament and get a red one up there and my work is done.”

The Australian last night asked Ms Ward and the Victorian government for a comment on the post, given she is implementing Safe Schools and is advising the government on LGBTI issues.

In response to the request, her resignation was announced this afternoon.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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