Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardour and diligence. Abigail Adams
The federal election has now come and gone. Many would be surprised at the result, and some, especially in the education sector, would be disappointed. The only thing one can say with any certainty is that we now know where we stand with regard to a number of educational matters, whether they are considered the most desirable or not.
Already there are commentaries from various sources [e.g. Lobbies congratulate but can’t manage to celebrate Morrison ministry, After the surprise election result, it’s time for pragmatic thinking on higher education policy and Dan Tehan’s big homework list]. We can only expect more, and often more pointed, advice [and other reactions] as time continues. This is also likely to be more prevalent after the new parliament sits for the first time on 2 July of this year.
Over the same period, a number of states brought down their own budgets, some with significant increases in educational funding. For example, NSW education budget to jump by $1.2 billion and Victoria had big amounts for education while also finally signing off to the Gonski funding process. Other states also had significant funding including a range of specific areas being targetted by several of these.
Meanwhile ‘free speech’, especially in universities, was becoming a fractious issue, especially following the completion of the French Review, released just before the recent elections. While it found there was no campus free speech crisis it is interesting there are now numerous steps being taken, or proposed, to look at voluntary codes to address what others may describe as existing difficulties.
One area which now seems to be a current major talking point is the demand-driven enrolment [or uncapped students places] system. More on this below.
- With the recent election result, there was disappointment at the fact ‘The Federal Opposition had recommitted a future Labor government to restoring uncapped university student places’ would not eventuate. At the same time, the release of a Productivity Commission report [found here], looked at how it operated until discontinued in 2017. Interestingly, one Key Point of the report indicated ‘The “demand driven system” in place between 2010 and 2017 was intended to increase domestic student numbers and give under-represented groups greater access. The results were mixed’.
- The push to return to this system had existed before the election. Among the latest expressions of support one came via The Grattan Institute though similar pushes had been coming for several years [e.g.].
- Others took a variety of views on why the process was desirable. Universities Australia suggested ‘opened doors of opportunity’ that would help as there was ‘an historic shift towards jobs that require higher skills’. Others posed the question, Uncapping of university places achieved what it set out to do. So why is it dubbed a policy failure ?. Stephen Matchett provided interesting commentary on several occasions immediately after the release of the report [1 and 2].
- One particular area did seem to have benefited, showing how uncapped university funding actually boosted Indigenous student numbers. Andrew Norton reported that More students are going to university than before, but those at risk of dropping out need more help and goes on to look at potential options that might assist in this area.
- This is definitely not the end of the discussion, or the probable push to return to the demand driven system, from a number of quarters. It will be fascinating to watch the to and fro that is yet to come.
- While the top end of the sector is addressing the demand driven system [plus other areas], the release of another report has seen enthusiasm from those supporting the Early Childhood sector. The report’s contents are summarised in this Information Sheet, and includes a link to the full analysis. It essentially suggests ‘that investing in ECEC demonstrates the potential for more children and families to live healthier, happier and more productive lives, boosts productivity and increases workforce participation’. There is an interesting initial write-up on The Sector covering many aspects. This looks like one of those reports which will generate not only support but calls for action to achieve the suggested ends.
Universities have something to learn about public policy research
[The Australian, Higher Education, 17/7]
New Podcast :Vocational Voices
Draft Tasmanian Adult Learning Strategy 2019-22
[Skills Tasmania, 17/7]
Children from refugee backgrounds falling through cracks
[Brisbane Times, Opinion, 16/7]
Returning the balance to literacy teaching
[The Educator Australia, 16/7]
Expert panel seeks to boost school outcomes in country Victoria
[EducationHQ Australia, 16/7]
The Facts About School Funding in Queensland
[Save Our Schools, Australia, 14/7]
University teaching degrees in Australia miss the mark on reading instruction
[The Age, Education, 13/7]
Finkel demands unis “step up to the plate” on maths-based course
[Campus Morning Mail, 12/7]
Complaints about providers policy
ACEL Academic Advisory Group brings together recognised & influential
[EducationHQ Australia, 12/7]
Unis Aus makes case for more Undergraduate places
[Campus Morning Mail, 11/7]