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universities + the 'education revolution' « Previous | |Next »
February 22, 2008

Does the Rudd Government's rhetoric of "education revolution" include the universities? If so, what does it mean? Do we have a picture of this? Does it involve a rejection of the one size fits all model, in favour of increased diversity in terms of function and performance? Does it mean a substantially increased public investment in the higher education system?

Presumably, it does mean that the old ritual stand-off between the universities and Canberra under the Howard regime has gone. Under that regime the universities were a political problem to be controlled, not a site for economic, social and cultural investment in an information society. Hence the wedge politics, underfunding of the universities and a lack of concern about domestic student participation. The education says no more.

What next? Australian universities are not world class. Should they be? Will they be? How many? How will that be achieved? Through takeovers? Or amalgamations? Should the elite universities merge? Can Australia sustain 40 stand alone higher eduction institutions?

What we know is that Rudd Labor sees continually improving education and research as the key to increased productivity and long-term prosperity. Unlike the Coalition, Rudd Labor realizes that Australia cannot live on highly favourable commodity prices from the China boom forever. Like the other OECD nation-states the goal is for Australia to become a leading knowledge economy.

Simon Marginson says that the Rudd education revolution is rhetorical because in the first instance it is about changing attitudes:

...Howard left the private cost of university at unprecedented levels. Community demand is flat. Only when there is stronger public support can the Government invest in education and research at internationally competitive levels. After all, the community has to pay for this investment through taxation.The other crucial constituency yet to come fully on-side is federal Treasury, which has yet to buy the mainstream OECD knowledge economy argument. Some still see universities as a cost, not an investment.

These are the political constraints on the Government.Then there are economic constraints of needing to cut public expenditure to squeeze excess demand so as to ease inflationary pressure.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:55 AM | | Comments (1)
Comments

Comments

I know one thing ,it means taking $1.3 billion away from public schools for maintainence and improvements.So far I'm not impressed.

The money would be better spent on an immigration program weighted towards intelligence rather than pleasing PC agendas.Then we could have an effective so called "education revolution"