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Expansion is no longer the answer to improving the Australian education system

TJRyan Foundation Research Associate, Dean Ashenden, writes in The Conversation (8.11.16) about how the ‘growth’ mantra, favoured for so long by leaders and policymakers in the higher education and associated sectors, is no longer sufficient to improve school and teriary education systems in Australia.

‘For 50 years, Australia’s policymakers have been persuaded that growth at every level of the education system would be a good thing in itself – and would drive economic growth and social progress.

‘That faith is now under unprecedented pressure.

‘While massive expansion has brought the benefits of education to millions, it has also created new problems, and left old ones unresolved.

‘… There is much more to the complex interaction of education and learning (on the one hand) and economic activity (on the other) than human capital theory comprehends, including particularly competition for economic advantage through education by occupational groups and by families and individuals.

‘There is also much more to education than its contribution to economic activity.

‘[L. H.] Martin depended upon a theory. Now we have experience. If the lessons of the past 50 years are to be learned, policymakers will need a much broader course of instruction than can be provided by human capital theory.’

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