It's complicated: tertiary education in Australia - 24th Jun 2013


Confirming what we have already learnt, tertiary education in Australia in complicated. Below is an article from the Australian National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

Australia’s tertiary education and training sector is complex and shaped by diverse views and tensions, according to prominent national researchers and commentators on education.

The book of essays, Structures in tertiary education and training: a kaleidoscope or merely fragments? Research readings, published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) explores current thinking in light of significant reforms in post-school education.

“In broad terms, reaching a common understanding of the dynamics of the system is not easy. When we talk about tertiary education we’re not all talking about the same thing”, says Dr Tom Karmel, Managing Director, NCVER.

Within the waves of recent reform, the sector has steadily adopted the language of markets, with a number of essayists picking up the point that education is seen as an ‘investment’. But as Dr Karmel points out, we need to be clear that we are talking about an unusual market, both in terms of its ‘product’ and its ‘customers’.

“In the VET system, there isn’t a clear view of who is the customer. Is it the student, who acquires knowledge and skills, or the employer, who ultimately employs skilled staff?

“This also prompts the question of who should pay for what. To establish the underpinnings and value of each part of the sector, we need greater clarity about the purpose of public funding, as well as a clear alignment between funding regimes and policy objectives.

“One thing is clear, there is little appetite for a single, integrated tertiary education sector. Variety within the sector is definitely considered a good thing”, says Dr Karmel.

The book of 13 chapters is organised in four parts: the future of education, economic issues, the political economy and industry and community.

Copies of Structures in tertiary education and training: a kaleidoscope or merely fragments? Research readings are available from: www.ncver.edu.au/publications/2616.html.

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