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Post-school education: the continuing national policy vacuum

An earlier collection of articles indicated the failure of the federal election campaign to confront the policy vacuum which faces administrators in tertiary institutions and those charged with equitable distribution of public and private funds. A major contribution was Dean Ashenden’s article in Inside Story, ‘Powerhouse or Gravy Train?’, which drew responses from John Quiggin and John McCollow.

Here, Ashenden responds to John Quiggin and John McCollow.

The continuing concern about TAFE private providers

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has committed to closing some of the obvious loopholes being exploited by TAFE private providers.

Similar concerns over private providers of higher education in the UK

The same concerns about unregulated privatisation have surfaced in the British system, encouraged by the same ideological preference for respecting the wisdom of markets.

Seeds of disaster in university ‘flagship courses’?

A proposal in the federal government’s discussion paper for universities to allow greater freedom in prescribed ‘flagship courses’ carries the seeds of disaster in terms of equity within and between institutions.

‘The stakes involved in universities are far from small’

Peter Varghese is the recently-appointed Chancellor of the University of Queensland, with a wealth of experience from the Canberra public service, including as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade from 3 December 2012 to 22 July 2016.

Addressing UQ staff, Varghese invited a more proactive approach from the perspective of university managers and linked this to his wider analysis of radical incrementalism, gently chiding the federal government for not providing certainty in the policy-making environment:

The stakes involved in universities are far from small. The contribution universities make to our national wellbeing, the more measurable contribution it makes to our gross domestic product, the ability it has to inspire a generation of students to go on and do great things, and ultimately its capacity to produce more rounded citizens, are vital and they are the highest of high stakes.

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