The $500 million will go towards building more classrooms and upgrading facilities for non-government schools across the state.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made the announcement on Mar. 7, a fortnight out from the Mar. 23 election.
The government was committed to supporting parents whether they choose to send their children to public, Catholic or private schools, Berejiklian said in a statement.
NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said the funds will be directed to the areas of greatest need and will take into account fees, demographics and socio-economic characteristics of the school.
“This record funding announcement will continue to ensure that every student in NSW continues to receive the best possible education, in the best facilities–no matter where they go to school,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Dogs to Sniff out Drugs in SA Schools
In another effort to improve schools, sniffer dogs are set to be deployed in South Australian schools to combat what the state government says is the “scourge” of drugs.
Under new protocols agreed to by police and the education department, high school principals can invite sniffer dogs onto school grounds where a demonstrated need has been determined.
The protocol includes a process for identifying schools where there may be children vulnerable to illicit drug use.
It also allows private schools to opt in to the program.
Education Minister John Gardner said the government was taking action to stop the scourge of drugs in schools.
Sue and Shadow Minister John Gardner MP
“We are taking strong action to protect our children from illicit substances which we know can interrupt learning, impair development and result in social, emotional, financial and health problems that continue into adulthood,” he said.
“While the majority of South Australian students are not involved with these activities we are very serious about deterring young people from having any involvement with illegal drugs.”
Police Minister Corey Wingard said the government had a zero-tolerance attitude towards illicit drugs.
“Illegal drugs have no place in our society and in particular no place anywhere near our vulnerable children,” he said.
“These new measures send a clear message to anybody who thinks they can bring drugs into our schools that they will be caught and they will face the consequences.”
Police assistant commissioner Noel Bamford said the protocol would ensure the sniffer dog operations were conducted in the appropriate manner.
That includes a provision for students to be assembled away from school buildings while the drug detection operation was conducted.
“I would remind anyone considering taking illicit drugs onto any school property that the consequences of using drugs or being caught in possession of them can be serious and long-lasting, including the possibility of criminal conviction,” Bamford said.
Preparing Students For the Real World
Australia’s universities insist they are producing graduates with practical skills enabling them to get straight to work.
The sector is highlighting its efforts to produce career-ready graduates with a new report on the vast array of opportunities for work placements, internships, industry projects, fieldwork, and real-life simulations on offer to students.
Almost half a million students–just over a third of all those enrolled–took up one of these opportunities in 2017, the report Universities Australia released on Wednesday reveals.
“This is a very large number–and a noteworthy one,” the peak body’s chairwoman Margaret Gardner will say upon releasing the report, according to speech extracts.
“Universities don’t just equip students with skills for learning, life and leadership, we help prepare students for the careers that beckon after graduation.”
“This is about far more than making them knowledgeable in their chosen field.”
Business and federal education ministers have repeatedly called on universities to do a better job of making sure their students have the skills needed when they graduate and head into workplaces.
The report, funded in part by the education department, shows they have heard that message.
“These figures testify to the extent and diversity of work readiness activities now available at every Australian university and reflect a strong commitment to graduate employability,” it states.
At Charles Sturt University, engineering professors have done away with lectures and exams, instead sending students out to work on four real-world projects plus a series of paid placements.
The feedback from employers indicated the approach was “a program that trains student engineers, not engineering students,” Foundation Professor of Engineering Euan Lindsay said.
In Newcastle, budding lawyers and social workers provide a Law on the Beach clinic each summer, offering free legal advice under supervision while preparing themselves for a career in the courts.
Universities are also releasing new polling showing two-thirds of Australians oppose government cuts to research funding, such as the $328 million trimmed from the sector in December’s mid-year budget update.
The polling by JWS Research also found just over three-in-five people also oppose cuts to student places and the same proportion agree that while cutting university funding may save money now, it will damage Australia in the long term.