Welcome to this May edition of dKin Times.
May is budget month in Australia and our Government has outlined its proposal for Higher Education. There were highpoints - we welcome the investment of $100 million to boost innovation, skills and employment in advanced manufacturing. It’s an area in which Deakin is well placed to be advantaged, particularly through our Centre for Advanced Design in Engineering Training (CADET) and our Institutes.
However, the proposed funding cuts also outlined in the 2017 budget are surprising and disappointing. Of significant concern is that students will face a 7.5 per cent increase in fees to be phased in over four years (an increase of between $2,000 and $3,600 for a 4-year course) and graduates will start repaying their loans at the lower income threshold of $42,000 instead of $51,957. It is bemusing that our elected representatives who mostly benefited from a free education are imposing these increases on the next generation who will bear the brunt of the saving mechanisms in this budget. At its most stark, the budget proposes a 6 basis point cut for banks while students will receive a 750 basis point hike. It seems odd in a world where a skilled and educated population is essential for competitive advantage. The university will also receive a 2.5% efficiency cut in both 2018 and 2019. Strong universities are an investment in Australia’s prosperity and the future, and in my view universities have already done more than their fair share of the heavy lifting for budget repair.
On a lighter note, this month, Deakin’s School of Nursing and Midwifery celebrates its 30th anniversary. The School was established in 1987 with Professor Alan Pearson as the inaugural Head of School, the first professorial appointment of a professor of nursing at an Australian university. Thirty years on, the School has over 3,500 students and is one of the leading Nursing Schools in the world – ranked a stellar 22 globally, and proudly fifth in Australia, in the prestigious QS subject rankings. More than that it has a most impressive employability record that has our nurses being amongst the nation's best. Congratulations to the School and its alumni and enjoy the celebration of this important milestone!
The year has also started well for Deakin’s Alumni Relations, with increases in alumni event attendance, participation in chapters and uptake of alumni services and benefits. Our Brisbane alumni event had a full house, and for the first time the seminar Can we prevent depression by improving diet delivered by Professor Felice Jacka, was recorded by ABC National and is now available as a pod cast from the ‘Big Ideas’ program
If you have not yet participated in an event or webinar I encourage you to visit the alumni website or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. If you are thinking about applying for postgraduate study starting in July, remember you may be eligible for a 10% Postgraduate Course Fee Bursary is offered to alumni and their immediate family who commence a postgraduate award in 2017.
Jane den Hollander AO
President and Vice-Chancellor