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Powerhouse or gravy train?

Powerhouse or gravy train?

Dean Ashenden argues in Inside Story (15.6.16) that:

'credentialism has distorted the direction and basis of half a century's education and training policy.'

Ashenden's paper is a major contribution to a discussion of higher education policy (writes Roger Scott).  It is long (nearly 10,000 words) and deals with fundamental issues of economic analysis as well as contemporary policy issues facing government.  But it is engagingly written, wearing lightly the cloak of its scholarly depth. It casts doubt upon the assumptions and premises which have led governments (and increasingly students) to invest large amounts in supporting and expanding the current range of activities in the post-school institutions.  

Put simply, Ashenden suggests that the money might be better spent elsewhere and governments should concentrate on regulating the sector to avoid the current  misallocation of resources.

The flavour is captured mid-way through:

'With social, political and ideological realities back in the picture we can also understand why a vastly expanded system, which has brought many benefits to many people, has nonetheless been a disappointment. We can see why governments have been on a policy treadmill, lubricated by an overweening and inadequate theory, tackling the same old problems over and again in the belief that more and yet more education will make them go away. 

The result is an increasingly bloated and self-serving university sector; a demoralised and marginalised VET (vocational education and training) system; stubborn inequalities in educational opportunities and outcomes; persistently high proportions of school leavers and adults who, as the euphemism goes, “lack the skills for full participation in contemporary society”; chronic grumbling by employers about the “job readiness” of new employees; and, for many of those on the receiving end of it all, an ever-lengthening educational experience of variable quality, ever-increasing competitiveness and ever-increasing costs.'

Roger Scott, Executive Director, TJRyan Foundation

Is the university system a complete shemozzle?

Matthew Knott writes in The Sydney Morning Herald (16.6.16):

'The nation's elite Group of Eight universities have proposed that the federal government reintroduce limits on how many students each university can enrol, a suggestion slammed by other vice-chancellors as "cancerous" and "selfish".'


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