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Is the end nigh for the Australian public university?

Allan Patience writes in the Pearls and Irritations blog (17.5.21) about the federal government's seeming disinterest in effectively supporting the tertiary education sector through the worst effects of the pandemic crisis.

'The Morrison government has declared war on Australia’s public universities. They are accused of being hotbeds of post-modern rabble rousing and an unbearable burden on taxpayers. Government ministers and employers complain that graduates are not “work-ready”. The remarkable thing is the supine response to date from the universities themselves to these baseless and gratuitous insults.

'For decades now Australian governments have been imposing austerity budgets on the country’s public universities. At the same time the universities have been transformed from limited-entry (elite) institutions to mass-education institutions. While the aim of opening up higher education to greater numbers of people is a very worthy goal, it has been callously under-resourced by governments imposing the transformation in the first place. As a result, the potential economic and social benefits of mass higher education are being stymied.

'... It is deeply concerning that this crisis in Australia’s public universities is not receiving the critical attention it should have. This is despite the fact that until COVID-19 closed the country’s international borders, education was one of Australia’s top overseas income earners. Morrison and his successive education ministers seem almost jubilant at slaying the higher education goose that has provided so many golden eggs, not only for the universities, but for the wider community.'

 

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