Education

Reimagining tertiary education

18 Oct 2018, by Amy Sarcevic

“Designing a tertiary education system for a world turned upside down by technology is a ‘wicked problem’ […]

“Get it right and Australia can thrive competitively, enjoy good standards of living and have a fair and civilized society.

“Get it wrong and the opposite will be true”, said Professor Stephen Parker, author of the ‘Reimagining Tertiary Education’ (RTE) report released earlier this year.

The report – to be discussed in depth at the upcoming University Governance & Regulations Forum – argues that Australia will need to reimagine its tertiary education system whilst acknowledging it is behind a “veil of ignorance” in terms of what the future will look like.

“To lock ourselves too firmly into one model or one principle is highly dangerous”, Parker continued.

“We don’t know whether the bachelor degree will remain the center of gravity of higher education.

“We don’t know how far non-award micro-credentials will take hold […]

“We don’t know whether the future really is about more skills and less disciplinary knowledge”.

“[However] the scale of likely change in our economy and society is such that we must at least contemplate major reforms, building on past successes, remedying failures and designing a coherent tertiary system that will equip Australia for a future that will be different”.

His report sets out the case for system-level change, underpinned by public funds – on the premise that market forces alone are not capable of delivering the educational outcomes Australia needs.

“Left to its own devices, education would disappear from thinly populated areas, fields that require capital investment with long payback times would be neglected, the already privileged would be further privileged and knowledge that is part of past civilisations and cultures would be lost, to the impoverishment of humankind”, Parker added.

Professor Parker, who was a Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor or Dean for over 15 years before joining KPMG as the Lead Education Partner, has engaged in tertiary education policy debates since the Bradley Review in 2008.

He has written on polytechnics, the risks of disruption to higher education and various equity issues. He opposed the proposals in 2014-15 to deregulate domestic undergraduate tuition fees, which he regards as a “character-forming period”.

His RTE report was extensively covered in the media and has been hotly debated. It was cited by multiple high profile speakers at the recent AFR Higher Education Summit.

The report – produced in consultation with Andrew Dempster and Mark Warburton – details ten recommendations on how the higher education sector should best handle the ‘wicked problem’ bestowed upon it.

Presenting at the University Governance & Regulations Forum  -24 – 25 October 2018, Professor Parker will discuss these recommendations in depth, with a particular emphasis on “valuing teaching excellence” and “removing higher education provider categories”.

Learn more and register.

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