Thursday, June 18, 2020

University to admit students in 2021 even if they don't get an ATAR score this year due to coronavirus disruptions

Almost any scholastic aptitude test is a better filter for tertiary success than final exam results anyway.  Just an IQ test would exclude most of those unlikely to succeed.  Even parental income or parental attainments would make a good rough filter

A whole lot of factors can influence final High school marks so they have never been an efficient entrance criterion.  They are used because they are seen as "fair".  Good riddance to them as long as some other filter is used to keep out those unlikely to cope at university.

I suspect that they will in fact accept anyone who applies and can pay.  That would be most unfair to the less able

Another Australian university has announced it will accept year 12 students impacted by the coronavirus lockdown even if they don't obtain an ATAR score.

Swinburne University will offer an ATAR-free pathway to its most popular courses for all students that finish high school in 2020.

Students will be able to enrol in bachelor degrees such as business, science, design, arts, engineering and media, with just a recommendation letter from their high school confirming they meet the minimum English requirements.

In normal circumstances there are a limited number of places for each university course and students' ATAR scores determine whether they will secure an offer of enrolment in their chosen field of study.

Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Chris Pilgrim said although the transition from high school to university is always challenging, year 12 students have 'faced a year like no other' and deserve a shot at university even without an ATAR.

'We know that students in 2020 continue to rise to the occasion and achieve exceptional results, and that completion of VCE remains of utmost importance, Professor Pilgrim said.

'But we also understand it has been a unique year of study for many and we want to support students to continue their studies into 2021.'

Universities across Australia are experiencing a massive decline in profitability as the number of international students plummets due to COVID-19 border closures.

Foreign students make up about one third of Swinburne's total revenue and their absence this year means the university expects to see a deficit of $51million.

In 2021 and 2022, they've flagged losses totalling $101million.

Overall, the Australian university sector is bracing for a $16billion retraction over the next four years.

'We guaranteed them over $18 billion worth of funding as part of our COVID-19 package, and we'll continue to talk with the sector about increases in demand and how we best can meet those,' education minister Dan Tehan told ABC Radio National.

'We'll continue to work with the sector to make sure that this demand can be met ... Understanding, of course, that there are, huge, huge demands on the Budget at the moment, and we've got to make sure that everything we do is done in a very sustainable way.'

'We have to remember, that the international education sector provides 250,000 jobs to this nation, and we want those jobs back as we grow our economy, as we come out of the coronavirus pandemic,' Mr Tehan said.

Swinburne will begin offering university places for 2021 as early as August.


Censoring history makes the past impossible to grasp

By Tom Switzer and Jacinta Nampijinpa Price

Much of history is a story of unintended consequences. What began as a protest at the brutal treatment Minneapolis police meted out to George Floyd has turned into an international movement, hijacked by manipulative people – more often than not white – who appear for the most part to be experienced anarchists. They are seeking to impose their values and political ideas on the rest of society.

We don't doubt that those involved in the movement genuinely oppose the evils of racism. America, after all, has a toxic history, not just because slavery ended there less than 160 years ago, but because African Americans won full civil rights only in the mid-1960s. It's just that the fully justified desire to end police brutality in America can only be clouded by aggressive acts of vandalism and violence.

For too many of the present protesters, opposition is not an end in itself, but rather the means to a greater end: the reordering of a political and social settlement accepted by the vast majority of people in Western nations. For example, the anti-fascist movement Antifa makes no secret of the fact that it wants to redesign American society according to its own recipe of proto-Marxism, identity politics and anarchism.

What these protesters lack in numbers they make up for in noise and intimidation. As a result, they attract media attention.

However, it is not just the present and the future that these anarchists propose to change. Like Pol Pot, with his Year Zero, or Mao Zedong and his Cultural Revolution, they wish to change the past.

In university history departments across the Western world in the last decade or so, there has been a determination to "decolonise the curriculum". This is an approach that politicises the subject by imposing a Marxist slant on it. Far from paying attention to the main facts of history, it concentrates on imposing the "woke" values of a noisy, self-advertising minority on a very different past.

Without attempting to understand the dynamics of the 19th century, these demonstrators want to remove evidence of imperialism and imperialists. In Britain, the Black Lives Matter leaders also direct their guns at capitalism, and it is a short step from there to a movement for anarchy.

Context is irrelevant to these people: historical figures who had attitudes or performed deeds of which today's society rightly disapprove are to be vilified and despised, with no quarter given. That is why statues and monuments are being ripped down or defaced around the world. For these people, the purpose of history is not to seek the truth, but to deploy it as a weapon – however crude and distorted – to manipulate the present.

It doesn't matter how you dress this act up: it is the imposition of the views of a minority of agitators on the rest of society without any attempt at consultation or respect for democracy. Then again, the whole point of being an anarchist is to reject democracy and to seize any excuse to attack manifestations of the establishment – whether they are statues, other monuments or police officers.

Just look at some of the statues that have been attacked. Winston Churchill, who fought against fascism at a moment when Britain could have gone under the Nazi jackboot, had "racist" daubed on his statue in London's Parliament Square.

In Ballarat, busts of John Howard and Tony Abbott were vandalised with red paint, which suggests that monuments to anyone who failed to advocate leftist politics is now fair game.

In light of that, it is perhaps inevitable that Sydney's Captain Cook statue should become a target. Australia has certainly had distasteful episodes in its treatment of our Indigenous people, especially in the 19th century. But our nation, admirable by almost every international standard, only exists because of James Cook.

Colonisation of Australia's land mass was inevitable, and as Howard has all too often argued, British settlement was a far better outcome than other possibilities. Think of the English language, rule of law, representative democracy, a free press and a market economy. Context is everything.

Defacing the statue of Cook will make no difference whatsoever to the plight of Aboriginal Australians. How would eliminating Cook from our history reduce the rates of family violence, youth suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, welfare dependence and incarceration in Indigenous communities?

History cannot be undone; its legacies are in every society, everywhere. Censoring the past – by removing statues, or stopping the showing of Gone with the Wind or even an episode of Fawlty Towers – only makes a proper comprehension of history (and what the past was really like) impossible to grasp.

To us, much of history was horrible, but it is why Western society is as it is. Removing evidence of that history is the construction of an alternative reality. It is not reality itself.


Bushfires: Fire experts downplay reduction burns

I would like to know what else is as effective

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro wants landowners to have more access to national parks for hazard reduction burns but fire experts warn that while prescribed burning can reduce bushfire risk it is not the solution

In a late submission to the Berejiklian government's bushfire inquiry, Mr Barilaro - who is also the minister for disaster recovery - said "now is the time for significant change and action" over fires. "We cannot afford to be complacent or waste the opportunity for reform," Mr Barilaro said.

His submission, one of 1000 made to the six month state-based inquiry into the devastating bushfire season that killed 25 people, also calls for cattle grazing to be used as a fire prevention method.

Mr Barilaro's submission said hazard reduction and traditional ecological burns are "under-utilised" and burn activities should be "prioritised to a level appropriate for the risk".

"Where there is great risk due to weather, fuel load, population etc the intensity of the burn activities should increase," the submission stated.

It also says "inadequate access to public land, including wilderness areas of national parks, creates unnecessary barriers to bushfire prevention activities".

However a separate, national inquiry into the recent bushfire season, the Royal Commission into National Natural Hazard Arrangements, heard on Tuesday from three top fire analysts who said that reducing fuel loads needed careful planning to ensure hazards did not actually increase if landscapes became more fire prone.

"One of the primary motivations for changing fire behaviour by manipulating fuel is to increase the potential for active suppression of the fire," Ross Bradstock, head of the University of Wollongong's Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires, said.

"So by reducing fire intensity, for example, and reducing the rate of spread [and] reducing ember propagation, you are increasing the chance that people can get in there and work safely and suppress the fire."

Professor Bradstock said there was clear evidence "the more you treat, the lower the risk" of house loss from fire, with the greatest benefit coming from burning near residential areas rather than in distant bushland. The practice, though, was more expensive given the resources needed to ensure fires remain controlled.

"If you want the most cost-effective strategy for protecting those assets or mitigating risk to those assets, then treatment in close proximity appears to be the best option at this stage based on the evidence," he said.

The royal commission heard that while hazard reduction burning was an important approach to curbing fire risks, it also needed significant funding commitments.

Kevin Tolhurst, an associate professor with the University of Melbourne's Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, said "a lot of case studies [show] that areas that have been burnt one or two years previously, have a dramatic impact on the spread of fire."

Over time, though, the bush grows back and "by the time you get to 10 or 11 years, the effect is largely gone".

David Bowman, a professor with the University of Tasmania's School of Natural Sciences, said some landscapes, particularly tall, wet forests, were not amenable to fuel-reduction efforts and yet, with the wrong weather conditions, "could burn terribly intensively".

"So prescribed burning is generally, we're talking about grassy systems, savannas, woodlands and dry sclerophyll forests, where we have this classical accumulation of fuel that can be burnt and maintained in different states and quite simple vegetation structures," Professor Bowman said.


Margaret River's Colonial beers ripped from shelves over name controversy

A chain of bottleshops in the eastern states will no longer stock Margaret River brewery Colonial Brewing Co's beers after complaints about the brand name.

A Melbourne-based writer said it was through his advocacy that the Blackhearts & Sparrows chain of stores made the decision to no longer stock the product.

"This is small in the scheme of things, not like anyone has solved racism ...," Shaad D'Souza wrote on Instagram.

"Change is generally meaningless without structural change but I appreciate it — I have been emailing Blackhearts (a shop I like) and other booze retailers on and off about how stupid and degrading 'Colonial Beer' is.

"A lot of people call for 'civility' when advocating for things we care about but sometimes being a bratty little bitch in public really gets things done."

Blackhearts & Sparrows' owners said the decision was made in light of recent events, both in Australia and around the world. Staff and customers had also reached out with their concerns.

"While we appreciate that the people behind Colonial Brewing had no malicious intent in their choice of brand name, words have power. We’ve had discussions with Colonial in the past with concerns about their name, but with their branding remaining the same our decision was clear," they said.

"'Colonial' is still a problematic word that speaks to a broader history of colonialism and colonisation that has caused irreversible harm to the First Nations people in Australia and Indigenous populations around the world."

The team running the business decided if they could make their stores a more inclusive place for all by no longer stocking the line of beer, it was a step they were willing to take.

Colonial Brewing Co managing director Lawrence Dowd said in light of the current climate and recent events, the brewery acknowledged the significant stress and angst surrounding the Black Lives Matter community built to bring justice, healing and freedom to black people across the globe.

"We have had significant messages and comments regarding our name, we want you all to know; we hear you," he said.

"The brand and name Colonial Brewing Co was inherited in 2008 when purchased what was at the time a small microbrewery in Margaret River – it was not chosen, or intended to celebrate

"The name Colonial was given to the brewery as it was one of the first to establish itself in the well-regarded wine region of Margaret River, colonialisng the wine region with one of the first craft breweries."

He said over the past six months Colonial Brewing Co had undertaken a process to review and understand the options to approach the name, considering its historical meaning.

It is now a national Australian-owned brand, with the Port Melbourne expansion giving it the ability to brew up to 7 million litres.


 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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