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What role should universities play in today’s society?

Megan O’Connell writes in The Conversation (22.8.16) about the role that Australia’s universities play in preparing the young for the jobs and workplaces of the near future.

‘Universities historically exist as institutions for the creation and dispersion of knowledge. But today, many young people enter university solely to prepare for careers.

‘In an era of demand-driven funding – where universities have the option to recruit as many students as they wish – is it beneficial for most young people to hold a university degree? Or is the benefit of a university education overstated, setting some young people up to fail?

‘Arguably, the higher the skill level of our workforce, the higher our country’s productivity. But the nature of Australia’s workforce is changing.

‘Young people need to be prepared for a variety of roles in a future that will be transformed by automation and digitisation.

‘The CSIRO paints a picture that if institutions and modes of employment do not change, Australia will fail to compete with the world.’

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