Wry & Dry

Your taxes not at work

Some years ago, W&D used to listen to A Prairie Home Companion, a delightful, if folksy, mid-west US radio show rebroadcast for $0.08 a day on ABC radio.  One of the key stories was about Lake Woebegone, the fictitious hometown of the show's narrator Garrison Keillor.  And in Lake Woebegone, "... all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."

Of course, the whimsical and juxtaposed 'strong women and good looking men' was matched in inventiveness by all children being 'above average'.  Obviously they cannot be.

Which brings W&D to Australian universities.  Work with W&D on this.

To W&D's shock, he discovered that there are 40 universities in Australia.  Good grief.  And the obscurity of some is matched by their academic success.

University completion 2

Before W&D makes some big statements, let it be said that the Federal Department of Education makes many good points to explain the successes and failures.  Regression analysis helps explain the differences in completion rates.  The largest factors were, in order:

  • Type of attendance (full/part time) - part timers did much worse
  • Age group - older student did worse
  • ATAR band - lower ATAR scorers did worse
  • Mode of attendance (internal/ external/ multi-modal) - external did worse

This data raises a lot issues, especially of the one third who fail, how many fail to repay their university fees?  And why were they at university in the first place.  This latter question is important.  Over half of students with ATAR scores of less than 50 failed to complete their university degree.

W&D is also given to wondering whether those, err, more unsuccessful universities should, in fact, be universities.

Meanwhile, just over Bass Strait, another education issue arises.  

Tasmania y 10The problem appears to be education.  That is, Tasmania's student population is not as smart as the rest of the country.  Well, not necessarily.

The real problem is that bright Taswegian students leave the state on graduation or soon after.  Tasmania's population is not only relatively not very bright, it is also old; for the same reason.  Fully 19% of Tasmanians are aged over 65, compared to 15% nationally.  (Also older people move to Tasmania; young people leave).

Aside from the more serious question of whether the Tasmanian gene pool is deep enough for a self-sustaining economy, W&D asks whether the above data explains the emergence of Jacqui Lambie.