Friday, December 04, 2009

Propose an e-Oxbridge education

Having spent some of the week discussing the future of higher education, with Professor Paul Ramsden and my colleagues at the Australian National University (including my contribution on "Forums and Feedback for e-Learning"), I felt it was time to suggest a way forward. I have proposed an e-Oxbridge educational model for the ANU School of Computer Science (SoCS) .

SoCS has ambitious goals set for "unique", "advanced", "interdisciplinary" and "research lead" undergraduate and masters courses. To achieve this, I have proposed a computer enhanced version of the "Oxbridge" model of education. With this approach at Oxford and Cambridge Universities (where I have given the occasional seminar) students are part of a community of scholars, write and discuss material with their peers and their tutors each week. This can be adapted to the 21st century:
  1. Human communication: I suggest teaching all students how to research, write and report. While most undergraduates will not go on to postgraduate research and therefore not need to write a scientific paper, they will have to write technical and business reports which require similar skills. Therefore I suggest teaching how to write and present an argument in the introduction to undergraduate and postgraduate programs. I have done some of this in Green ICT, where I get the students to research and discuss issues online and write a reports about a real problem.
  2. Self motivated work: In each course I suggest setting the students a task, giving them the tools and then helping them with the work. In practice this would be done by providing learning materials in traditional written form, as well as multimedia, as used by the "Hubs and Spokes" project. This would then free up staff time to work with the students in small groups and individually. This would also force a discipline on staff, who would need to carefully design course materials in advance. Also this would allow administration to be greatly simplified, with less need for timetabling of classes and resources. This would aid social inclusion, with full and part time students could in the same class, along with domestic, international and remote e-learning students.
  3. Interdisciplinary skills: I suggest designing SoCS programs to fit in with ANU wide programs and those of partner universities. In this way students will be able to study subjects outside Computer Science in other parts of the university.
Instead of developing whole, self contained undergraduate and
postgraduate programs which are exclusive to SoCS, I suggest SoCS have modules which can fit with other disciplines and can be used by other disciplines. A student should be able to do a standard undergraduate or postgraduate program at the ANU which incorporates SoCS education. While the SoCS programmes might have fancy names, such as Bachelor/Masters of Advanced Interdisciplinary Computing", they should underneath be made of ANU standard components. Ideally the courses should be able to be tailored by the students themselves, as is done with ANU Graduate Studies Select.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Students as Scholar not Customers

Professor Paul RamsdenGreetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Professor Paul Ramsden, Chief Executive of the UK Higher Education Academy, is discussing changes to the way universities plan courses and reward teaching staff. Professor Ramsden's paper "The Future of Higher Education - Teaching and the Student Experience" is available online, along with appendices and bibliography. He will give another talk tomorrow.

Much of what Professor Ramsden discusses is applicable to Australia. Professor Ramsden commented that the Australian response to the Bradley Report was more radical than its UK equivalent. He asserted that students need to feel part of a community of scholars, rather than just customers of service delivery. He went on to show a graph from the Bradley Review which showed that Australian students were much less satisfied with what they get from education than UK students. This is worrying particularly where Australian universities are relying on international students who can choose to go to another country.

Professor Ramsden asserted that a revolution in education was needed. One area for improvement was better description of course and more relevant assessment. Traditional descriptions of degrees are of little value, as are transcripts. He propose a higher education achievement report. None of this seems new or radical to me after having to prepare a golbally accredited professional course for the ACS which is described in terms of a standard set of skills for the profession.

Professor Ramsden pointed out that for many years teaching was seen as important but little had been done about it. However, apart from saying this was worrying, he did not appear to have any solutions to propose.

Professor Ramsden described overspecialisation in curriculum as a "disease". He called for more cross disciplinary work. He also argued for an international perspective. This seems like a solved problem to me, as I have international students in my Green ICT course. Some of these students are in Australia, others online around the world.

Professor Ramsden said that UK students have the expectation unviersity will be like school, with a spoon-fed program with lots of staff contact, whereas they should expect to learn to read and research themselves. He commented that he was worried by Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), which may reduce the scope for student input into courses.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

More future of higher education in the UK and Australia

Professor Paul RamsdenProfessor Paul Ramsden, Chief Executive of the UK Higher Education Academy, will discuss changes to the way universities plan courses and reward teaching staff at the Australian National University, 2.30pm, Wednesday, 2 December 2009 in Lecture Theatre 1, HW Arndt Building (RSVP: Deborah Veness). This is in addition to the previously scheduled talk, 3 December 2009.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Future of higher education in the UK and Australia

Professor Paul RamsdenProfessor Paul Ramsden, Chief Executive of the UK Higher Education Academy, will discuss changes to the way universities plan courses and reward teaching staff at the Australian National University, 3 December 2009.

Professor Ramsden's paper "The Future of Higher Education - Teaching and the Student Experience" is available online, along with appendices and bibliography.

Much of what Professor Ramsden discusses is applicable to Australia. He advocates reforming curriculum and assessment with new models of curriculum, interdisciplinary study, flexible transfer between part-time and full-time modes, and global perspectives. I have been doing some of this in the Green ICT course run for ACS and ANU. This is available for ICT and other professionals, with full and part time students from around the world in the same class.
ANU Teaching Forum


The Future of Higher Education - Teaching and the Student Experience

Professor Paul Ramsden
Chief Executive, The Higher Education Academy, UK

Thursday 3 December, 1-2pm
The Tank, Haydon Allen Lecture Theatre, Building 23, ANU, Canberra

A light lunch will be served preceding the lecture from 12pm, Seminar from 1pm.

Please email RSVP to: by Friday 27 November and include any dietary requirements for lunch

To be introduced by Professor Lawrence Cram, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President of The Australian National University

This talk is based on Professor Paul Ramsden's contribution to the forthcoming framework for higher education in England. It will examine the quality of teaching and learning in UK higher education in the light of recent critical comment in the media and parliament, and consider the kinds of experiences that will enable graduates in the UK and Australia to contribute to the world of the future. He will identify some key drivers in the process, including recognition of teaching, curriculum change, and the need for a different relationship between students and universities.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Australian E-portfolio Plan

A "VET E-portfolio Roadmap: A strategic roadmap for e-portfolios to support lifelong learning" (640 kbytes PDF, 16 June 2009) has been released by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. This provides a useful 26 page overview of what electronic portfolios are, how they are useful in education and how they can be applied in Australia. Unfortunately AFLF published the plan as a difficult to read PDF document, rather than web format (excerpts appended).

AFLF is a state and federal funded body to support e-learning and has issued a call for participation in
a VET E-portfolios Showcase in October 2009. Unfortunately the VET and higher education sectors are not coordinating their e-learning initiatives in Australia, with the federal government funding the wasted duplicated effort resulting from this. This is mostly the fault of the universities, who have difficulty accepting that the TAFEs are more advanced in e-learning than the universities are. This is dispite some reports recommended cooperation, such as QUT's "AeP ePortfolio Project - Final Project Report" (August 2008) which said something similar from the university point of view. This creates problems for organisations, such as ACS, which are involved in both vocational and masters level postgraduate education.
Section 1: Introduction 1
What is an e-portfolio? 2
Why are e-portfolios important to VET learners? 2
What is an e-portfolio system? 3
Activities or processes for a VET e-portfolio system 4
A reference model for VET e-portfolio systems 4
Section 2: VET E-portfolio Roadmap goals 6
Section 3: VET E-portfolio Roadmap key outputs 8
3.1 National guidelines for VET managers of learner information 8
3.2 Functional specifi cations for e-portfolio system implementers and developers 9
3.3 Strategies for embedding e-portfolios into VET 9
Section 4: VET E-portfolio Roadmap implementation strategy 10
Roadmap implementation strategy 10
Section 5: Getting involved 14
The role of jurisdictions and RTOs 14
For more information 15
Appendix 1: Summary of the VET E-portfolio Roadmap 16
Appendix 2: Key national policy drivers 19
Appendix 3: Defi nition of e-portfolio system services 21 ...

Appendix 1: Summary of the VET E-portfolio Roadmap

Goal 1: Enable portable e-portfolios and associated content to effectively support learner transitions and lifelong learning.

Requirements: A learner should be able to access and develop their e-portfolio throughout their lifelong learning journey. This will require them to be able to move their e-portfolio between various e-portfolio systems.

Strategy: A technical method for associating competencies, employability skills and other relevant frameworks/classifi cations to e-portfolio content/evidence will be investigated and recommended for the VET sector.

Import/export functional requirements for e-portfolio systems will be recommended and agreed nationally.

The use of a VET person profi le to facilitate the portability of e-portfolios which is interoperable with specifi cations such as auEduPerson8 specifi cation will be investigated.

This roadmap was commissioned by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework’s national E-portfolio business activity1
in 2008 to assist in the development of work to suppsaining system.

Goal 2: Enable electronic verifi cation of educational qualifi cations, membership of professional associations or trade/occupational licensing information.

Requirements: The ability to electronically verify evidence will help to streamline applications for employment, course admissions and recognition of prior learning processes.

Strategy: Existing systems for validating claims including Qualsearch9, Purple Passport10 and Digitary11 will be evaluated for their potential suitability in an Australian VET context. The Australian Graduation Statement for Higher Education and European Diploma Supplement will also be considered as part of this investigation.

Goal 3: Ensure that personal data is protected and under the control of the e-portfolio owner.

Requirements: There are legal requirements for privacy which, along with agreements on ownership of content, need to be clearly articulated and addressed in e-portfolio implementations.

Strategy: Generic legal advice will be sought regarding privacy issues and the roles and responsibilities associated with the delivery of e-portfolio services.

Information and advice on privacy and ownership policies will be researched and guidelines for RTOs and developers of e-portfolio systems. This information will be based on best and emerging
practice in this area and use-cases illustrating common issues and scenarios will be provided.

Goal 4: Ensure key stakeholders, including e-portfolio owners (learners) and organisations hosting e-portfolios systems, understand their copyright and intellectual property (IP)

Requirements: Copyright and IP considerations can affect the access and usage rights for a range of different types of e-portfolio content.

Strategy: Guidelines concerning the management of copyright and IP in e-portfolio implementation will be developed for the VET sector. In particular:

• guidelines on licensing of materials and usage of third party materials
• guidelines on appropriae content.

The E-portfolio business activity will monitor relevant developments such as Creative Commons Australia, in particular ccLearn initiatives.12

Access control
Goal 5: Enable effective authentication methods for third parties seeking access to sensitive personal information.

Requirements: Effective digital security facilitates learners’ privacy rights under law, allowing only authorised access to protected content and services.

Strategy: A set of representative VET use-cases for identity, authentication and access control will be developed based on further stakeholder consultations. Although focused on e-portfolios, an identity framework for the VET sector will need to be broader in scope.

A trial of a user-centric identity framework approach such as OpenID or Information Cards will be undertaken.

The sector will also need to engage in related activities such as the higher education sector, auEduPerson and the work of the schools sector in developing a localised version of the SIF data model13 to form a common agreement on data attributes for students. (see actions under Portability above).

Guidance and support for RTOs implementing e-portfolio systems will be provided.

Goal 6: Advocate the availability of suffi cient web connectivity, appropriate access devices, and suffi cient digital infrastructure.
Requirements: Access to appropriate infrastructure is required to support widespread adoption of e-portfolios within the sector.

Strategy: Infrastructure requirements for learners, e-portfolios and e-portfolio systems to support lifelong learning will be communicated to RTOs, jurisdictions and federal government (including the Digital Education Revolution initiative) and other relevant stakeholders.

Goal 7: Establish a shared understanding of storage issues and requirements for e-portfolios in VET.

Requirements: Storage agreements need to take into account that some e-portfolio content will be stored in the e-portfolio system, whilst some content will be stored in other systems or on the

Strategy: Guidance on storage of digital content for e-portfolios will be developed and agreed upon. This guidance will be informed by a number of key resources including higher education
sector’s Australian E-portfolio Project’s e-portfolio toolkit14 and JISC e-portfolio15 resources. It will be aimed at balancing the needs of learners, RTOs and the requirement for longevity of

Guidelines on supporting the longevity requirements for e-portfolios will be developed.

Goal 8: Establish a strategic approach to developing effective e-portfolio practice.

Requirements: The uptake of e-portfolios as a teaching, learning and recognition tool needs to be accompanied through professional development, adequate business structures and support.

Strategy: The Framework’s E-portfolio business activity will play a central role in supporting the establishment and facilitation of communities of practice to provide assistance, dissemination of
information and a mentoring role for new users.

The business activity will also seek FLAG16 and AICTEC17 support to advocate the establishment of a cross sectoral working/reference group that focuses on issues such as policy, professional learning, standards and advocacy at national level to support a standards-based approach to e-portfolios across the sectors.

Goal 9: Promote e-portfolio good practice which supports learner transitions and key national policy drivers such as RPL (recognition of prior learning) and fast-tracking apprenticeships.

Requirements: E-portfolios provide a means for presenting a variety of evidence from formal and informal learning environments which have been acquired through workplace and life-wide experiences.

Strategy: Pilot projects within the VET sector will be encouraged to further develop an understanding of the technical and policy requirements of learner transitions.

The COAG RPL community will be engaged to ensure e-portfolios support RPL processes. ...

From: "VET E-portfolio Roadmap: A strategic roadmap for e-portfolios to support lifelong learning", Australian Flexible Learning Framework, 16 June 2009

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Review of Australian Higher Education

The Review of Australian Higher Education, conducted by an expert panel, led by Emeritus Professor Denise Bradley, was released 17 December 2008. The Australian Government will respond to the report in "early" 2009. The report makes some useful recommendations, such as flexible and collaborative delivery arrangements in partnership with TAFE. Unfortunately the report is difficult to read due to poor formatting of the electronic document. To make the report more accessible, I have created a plain text version of the recommendations and appended them to this posting.
  1. Final Report in one document (PDF 2.55MB)
  2. Executive summary, Recommendations and Findings only (PDF 182KB)
  3. Part A - Title page to Chapter 2 (PDF 383KB)
  4. Part B - Chapter 3 (PDF 1.2MB)
  5. Part C - Chapter 4 (PDF 784KB)
  6. Part D - Acronyms to Index (PDF 445KB)
Format of the report

The report is provided in PDF, as one document and divided into parts. The full report is offered as the first option on the web site and no easy to read, small HTML version of the report is provided. As a result the report will be much harder to read and bandwidth (and greenhouse gasses) will be wasted downloading megabytes of unnecessary material. At least a web version of the summary of the report should be provided and listed as the first document the reader is offered.

Recommendations Review of Australian Higher Education
  1. That the Australian Government adopt the vision, strategic goals and principles for the higher education system set out in this report. (Chapter 1)
  2. That the Australian Government set a national target of at least 40 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds having attained a qualification at bachelor level or above by 2020. (Chapter 3.1)
  3. That the Australian Government commission work on the measurement of the socio-economic status of students in higher education with a view to moving from the current postcode methodology to one based on the individual circumstances of each student. (Chapter 3.2)
  4. That the Australian Government set a national target that, by 2020, 20 per cent of higher education enrolments at undergraduate level are people from low socio-economic status backgrounds. (Chapter 3.2)
  5. That the Australian Government introduce the following package of reforms to the student income support system. (Chapter 3.3) ...
  6. That the Australian Government undertake a regular process of triennial review of the income support system to assess the overall effectiveness of the support payments in reducing financial barriers to participation of students in need. (Chapter 3.3)
  7. That the Australian Government require all accredited higher education providers to administer the Graduate Destination Survey, Course Experience Questionnaire and the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement from 2009 and report annually on the findings.
    (Chapter 3.4)
  8. That the Australian Government increase the total funding allocation for the Research Infrastructure Block Grants program by about $300 million per year. This represents an increase from about 20 cents to 50 cents in the dollar for each dollar provided through competitive
    grants. (Chapter 3.5)
  9. That the Australian Government commission research into future demand for, and supply of, people with higher degree by research qualifications and that it increase the number of Research Training Scheme places on the basis of the findings of the research. (Chapter 3.5)
  10. That the Australian Government increase the value of Australian Postgraduate Awards to $25,000 per year and increase the length of support to four years, as recommended by the National Innovation Review, to provide greater incentives for high-achieving graduates to
    consider a research career. (Chapter 3.5)
  11. That the regulatory and other functions of Australian Education International be separated, with the regulatory functions becoming the responsibility of an independent national
    regulatory body. (Chapter 3.6)
  12. That the industry development responsibilities of Australian Education International be revised and be undertaken by an independent agency which is accountable to Commonwealth and
    state and territory governments and education providers. (Chapter 3.6)
  13. That the Australian Government provide up to 1,000 tuition subsidy scholarships per year for international students in higher degree by research programs targeted to areas of skills shortage. The scholarships would give the recipients the benefit of being enrolled on the same basis as domestic students. (Chapter 3.6)
  14. That higher education providers use a proportion of their international student income to match the Australian Government tuition scholarships by providing financial assistance for
    living expenses for international students in higher degrees by research. (Chapter 3.6)
  15. That the Australian Government liaise with states and territories to ensure consistent policies for school-fee waivers for the dependants of international research students in government-subsidised places and examine its visa arrangements to improve the conditions
    for spouse work visas. (Chapter 3.6)
  16. That, after further consideration of current problems with regional provision, the Australian Government provide an additional $80 million per year from 2012 in funding for sustainable
    higher education provision in regional areas to replace the existing regional loading. This should include funding to develop innovative local solutions through a range of flexible and collaborative delivery arrangements in partnership with other providers such as TAFE.
    (Chapter 3.7)
  17. That the Australian Government commission a study to examine the feasibility of a new national university for regional areas and, if the study indicates that a new national regional university is feasible, the Australian Government provide appropriate funding for its
    establishment and operation. (Chapter 3.7)
  18. That the Australian Government initiate a process with key stakeholders to determine the needs of outer metropolitan and regional areas for higher education and the best ways to
    respond to those needs. (Chapter 3.7)
  19. That the Australian Government adopt a framework for higher education accreditation, quality assurance and regulation featuring:
    accreditation of all providers based on their capacity to deliver on core requirements including ... (Chapter 4.1)
  20. That the Australian Government establish by 2010, after consultation with the states and territories, a national regulatory body to be responsible for:
    • accrediting and reaccrediting all providers of higher education and accrediting their courses where the provider is not authorised to do so;
    • conducting regular quality audits of higher education providers;
    • providing advice on quality, effectiveness and efficiency; and
    • registering and auditing providers for the purposes of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000. (Chapter 4.1)
  21. That the Australian Government, after consultation with the states and territories, revise the processes for higher education accreditation and audit to provide for ... (Chapter 4.1)
  22. That the Australian Government, after consultation with the states and territories, develop more rigorous criteria for accrediting universities and other higher education providers based around strengthening the link between teaching and research as a defining characteristic of university accreditation and reaccreditation. In particular, universities should be required to ... (Chapter 4.1)
  23. That the Australian Government commission and appropriately fund work on the development of new quality assurance arrangements for higher education as part of the new framework set out in Recommendation 19. This would involve ... (Chapter 4.1)
  24. That the Australian Government, in consultation with the states and territories, review the Australian Qualifications Framework to improve and clarify its structure and qualifications
    descriptors. Ongoing responsibility for a revised qualifications framework should rest with the national regulatory body. (Chapter 4.1)
  25. That the higher education financing system be designed around the following principles to... (Chapter 4.2)
  26. That the Australian Government increase the base funding for teaching and learning in higher education by 10 per cent from 2010. (Chapter 4.2)
  27. That the Australian Government maintain the future value of increased base funding for higher education by an indexation formula that is based on 90 per cent of the Labour Price Index (Professional) plus the Consumer Price Index with weightings of 75 per cent and
    25 per cent respectively. (Chapter 4.2)
  28. That the Australian Government commission an independent triennial review of the base funding levels for learning and teaching in higher education to ensure that funding levels remain internationally competitive and appropriate for the sector. (Chapter 4.2)
  29. That the Australian Government introduce a demand-driven entitlement system for domestic higher education students, in which recognised providers are free to enrol as many eligible
    students as they wish in eligible higher education courses and receive corresponding government subsidies for those students. The arrangements would...
  30. That the Australian Government regularly review the effectiveness of measures to improve higher education access and outcomes for Indigenous people in consultation with the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council. (Chapter 4.2)
  31. That the Australian Government increase the funding for the access and participation of under-represented groups of students to a level equivalent to 4 per cent of the total grants for teaching. This would be allocated through a new program for outreach activities and a loading
    paid to institutions enrolling students from low socio-economic backgrounds. Funding for the Disability Support Program would be increased to $20 million per year. (Chapter 4.2)
  32. That the Australian Government quarantine 2.5 per cent of the total government funding for teaching and learning for each provider to be allocated on the basis of achievement against a set of institutional performance targets which would be negotiated annually. (Chapter 4.2)
  33. That the Australian Government commission work on options for achieving a more rational and consistent sharing of costs between students and across discipline clusters in the context
    of triennial reviews of base funding for learning and teaching. (Chapter 4.2)
  34. That the Australian Government implement an approach to tuition fees in which maximum student contribution amounts (price caps) apply for any domestic undergraduate or coursework postgraduate students for whom the provider receives a public subsidy for their
    course. (Chapter 4.2)
  35. That the Australian Government implement an approach to tuition fees for domestic undergraduate students in which all providers are able to offer courses on a full-fee basis where public subsidies are not received for any students in that particular course. (Chapter 4.2)
  36. That the Australian Government:
    • increase the maximum student contribution amount for nursing and education units of study for students commencing from 2010 to the band 1 rate; and
    • encourage people to enrol and work in nursing and teaching by reducing HELP debts for graduates who work in those professions by $1,500 per annum for each of five years, at the same time as their HELP repayment requirements are forgiven to an equivalent amount. (Chapter 4.2)
  37. That the Australian Government:
    • increase the loan fee for FEE-HELP for fee-paying undergraduate students to 25 per cent; and
    • remove the loan fee on OS-HELP loans to encourage more Australian students to undertake part of their studies overseas. (Chapter 4.2)
  38. That the Australian Government establish a new Structural Adjustment Fund amounting to about $400 million in funding over a four-year period from 2009-10 to assist the sector to adapt to the reforms recommended in this report. (Chapter 4.2)
  39. That the Australian Government provide funds to match new philanthropic donations received in the sector as a means of stimulating an additional revenue stream from this source with the
    cost capped per institution, and in total at $200 million over three years. (Chapter 4.2)
  40. That Australian Government legislation and guidelines contain clear and objective criteria for determining access to different types of funding and assistance for higher education. ... (Chapter 4.2)
  41. That the Australian Government provide funds of $130 million over four years towards the costs of implementing these reforms. (Chapter 4.2)
  42. That the Australian Government develop and implement an accountability framework for the new higher education funding system that is consistent with the broader funding, governance and regulatory framework. In particular it should ... (Chapter 4.2)
  43. That the Australian Government negotiate with the states and territories to expand the national regulatory and quality assurance agency (Recommendation 20) to cover the entire tertiary sector (including vocational education and training and higher education) and that the Australian Government assume full responsibility for the regulation of tertiary education and training in Australia by 2010. (Chapter 4.3)
  44. That the Australian Government negotiate with the states and territories to introduce a tertiary entitlement funding model across higher education and vocational education and training (VET) commencing with the upper levels of VET (diplomas and advanced diplomas) and progressing to the other levels as soon as practicable. (Chapter 4.3)
  45. That the Australian Government negotiate with the states and territories to extend income contingent loans to students enrolled in VET diplomas and advanced diplomas. (Chapter 4.3)
  46. That the Australian Government and the governments of the states and territories agree to:
    • establish a single ministerial council with responsibility for all tertiary education and training;
    • improve the scope and coordination of labour market intelligence so that it covers the whole tertiary sector and supports a more responsive and dynamic role for both vocational education and training and higher education; and
    • expand the purpose and role of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research so that it covers the whole tertiary sector. (Chapter 4.3)
Excerpt from: Review of Australian Higher Education, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 17 December 2008


Friday, March 14, 2008

Australian Higher Education Review

On 13 March 2008, Julia Gillard, Minister for Education, announced a Review of Australian Higher Education. The review will be chaired Emeritus Professor Denise Bradley AC, with an interim report in October, and final report by the end of 2008.

Some suggestions for the review

A major issue for the review is how to apply the digital revolution in education which the new government has set in train for the school and vocation education sector to higher education. The vocational and higher education sectors need to be better linked (the VET sector has much to contribute). Higher education needs to address the needs of industry for skilled staff and research without loss of academic excellence. Australia's higher education sector needs to both compete and cooperate with the rest of the world.

Some of my thoughts on this:
  1. Building Arcadia, Emulating Cambridge's High Technology Success, from the book Net Traveller , (with Foreword by Senator Kate Lundy).
  2. Specifications for a flexible computer classroom
  3. How to Create On-line University Courses
The Australian Computer Society is leading a project to align professional standards for ICT globally. The ACS already provides online post gradate education in Australia and this is likely to be used as the model for international training. Last year the ACS was asked by the International Federation for Information processing (a UN affiliated body) to build free open access online digital publishing facilities for global ICT research. This is now being implemented, at the Australian National Unviersity. These initiatives could act as a model for other professional sectors.

Outline of the review

The review will look at how the education system can be:
  1. contributing to the innovation and productivity gains required for long term economic development and growth; and
  2. ensuring that there is a broad‐based tertiary education system producing professionals for both national and local labour market needs.
The review will look at how to achieve these objectives:
  1. Diverse, high performing institutions with a global focus: Developing a diverse, globally focused and competitive higher education sector with quality, responsive institutions following clear, distinctive missions to provide higher education opportunities to students throughout Australia.
  2. Productivity and participation: Enhancing the role of the higher education sector in contributing to national productivity, increased participation in the labour market and responding to the needs of industry. ...
  3. Effective and efficient investment: Improving funding arrangements for higher education institutions as they relate to teaching responsibilities, taking into account public and private benefits and contributions to inform the development of funding compacts between the Australian Government and institutions.
  4. Underpinning social inclusion through access and opportunity: Supporting and widening access to higher education, including participation by students from a wide range of backgrounds.
  5. Enhanced quality and high standards: Implementing arrangements to ensure that quality higher education is provided by public and private providers and that this is widely understood and recognised by clients of the higher education sector.
  6. A broad tertiary education and training sector: Establishing the place of higher education in the broader tertiary education sector, especially in building an integrated relationship with vocational education and training.
Available are:
  1. Minister's Speech
  2. Dest web site about the review
  3. Media Release
  4. Terms of Reference
  5. Higher Education Review Expert Panel
  6. Questions and Answers
  7. Contact Information
From the speech:

... Over the course of the last decade, the issue of human capital has risen dramatically in public policy importance globally.

Policy makers now accept that investing wisely in knowledge, skills and innovation is one of the best means available to ensure long-term prosperity, leading to both overall economic growth and to better education and work opportunities.

Around the world, governments have responded by increasing their policy focus in all areas of education, particularly higher education.

Everywhere it seems, except here.

In Australia since the mid-1990s our higher education system has been subjected to a seemingly random blend of neglect with occasional bursts of ideologically-driven interference.

... I am announcing today a major review of Australian higher education, which will help us shape the next steps in the Education Revolution for our universities.

And I am announcing a new long-term goal for our post-secondary education system: guaranteed access to higher education or skills training for every young Australian with the talent and willingness to give it a go.

The case for higher education investment

The Rudd Government's rationale for improving the performance of our higher education system is that higher education leads to higher productivity which leads to higher economic growth.

This case is now well accepted by the world's leading economists and economic bodies.

Human capital economists like the University of Chicago's James Heckman (who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2000) have been telling us for some two decades that public spending on education and skills leads to high rates of return on investment for countries.

OECD analysis of human capital suggests significant positive correlations between rising levels of educational attainment on the one hand, and both economic growth and improved physical and mental wellbeing on the other. The organisation has estimated that one year of average additional educational attainment for a population adds between 3 to 6 percent to long term GDP growth.

Our competitor nations are aware of this thinking and have been acting on it. Australia, by contrast, has not. Consider this analysis.

Between 1995 and 2004 public funding of tertiary education increased by an average of 49 percent across the OECD but declined by 4 percent in Australia.

This makes Australia the only OECD country where the total level of public funding of tertiary education decreased during that time.

While private investment in Australia went up by 98 percent, this actually compares poorly with the average OECD increase of 176 percent. Most nations managed to increase both public and private investment substantially. Rather than leverage more private investment through a partnership for growth, Australia shifted responsibility from the public sector to the private. Mostly this has meant a shift to individual students and their families who have paid more through higher tuition fees.

Between 1995 and 2004 total funding per tertiary student increased by an average of 9 percent across the OECD but increased here by only 1 percent.

Australia is now starting to fall behind our competitors in graduations in critical areas. We are now below the OECD average for the proportion of graduates in science and agriculture, and way below them in engineering, manufacturing and construction - 7.2 percent compared with 12.2 percent. In Korea the figure is 27.1 percent - four times Australia's density.

Research is also being badly affected. In the last ten years, research output has grown rapidly in countries like Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and mainland China - which is now the second biggest investor in research and development in the world. But it has only limped along here in Australia.

If you want to know why investing in research is important, ask the University of Queensland's Professor Ian Frazer who discovered the vaccine for a cancer that kills 250,000 women every year.

Over the last decade, Australian higher education has barely stood still in terms of numbers, quality and output, while our competitors have surged ahead.

The picture is clear: we are under-investing in our human capital, and in the long run this will stall our global competitiveness.

This policy failure has grave potential consequences for every single Australian.

We've been led to believe in recent years that what happens to our universities doesn't matter to ordinary Australians. This is a dangerous fallacy. ...

From: A Higher Education Revolution: Creating a Productive, Prosperous, Modern Australia , Speech at the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Conference, The Hon Julia Gillard MP, Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Minister for Social Inclusion. Deputy Prime Minister, Sydney, 13 March, 2008

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