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Has Higher Education lost - Its 'Raison d'etre’?

Over the last one or two decades, Higher Education has focused on driving the Australian Government Education Investment in them, to merely reach higher and higher financial goals. Selling more and more degrees to more and more students with increasing percentages coming from Asia. Seemingly short of all regional Education goals, bar the financial outcomes.

The big question to ask, was that the goal of Higher Education? To increase the number of degrees for the emerging student placement market (potentially lowering the bar of ‘a degree value’) whilst at the same time, missing completely, the capacity to deliver skilled and job ready people to the consumer market (aka Business) of those degrees. The capability for students to be employed as valued, rightfully, justifiably employable - Future proofing for the ANZ business employers.

We are potentially striving towards the highest educated dole queues the world has seen.

Just to be clear, the Higher Education goal no longer seems clear. The 'Raison d'etre’ is in doubt. Why? I see so much discussed out-side of the hallowed halls of our Universities. Business serving that marketplace are discussing what HE needs in the context of learning, skills and learning outcomes. How students can take advantage of the new services and solutions – if perhaps, HE was to look forward, rather than wistfully over its collective shoulder.

However, seeing very little if anything from Higher Education themselves, offering insight and thought leadership for ANZ businesses (future employers), software companies, technologists and researchers to ensure they can design a solution to meet HE future Education service needs.

Is this perhaps the key reason Higher Education have been hit so hard by the current crisis, an overwhelming reliance on being fed by Overseas students, underpinned by a lack of capacity and vision for future requirements. A total lack of readiness to deliver Education content on-line. We should all expect more from our Higher Education, not least, Higher Education from themselves.

Business (the ultimate consumers of University output) world-wide has a current challenge – the chasm between the skills they have now, and the skills they will need for a successful future. Where will HE fall into line, to support and drive closure on the gap we all see in the market? Shouldn’t this be the clear goal?

It would appear and totally happy to be proven wrong – that Higher Education in Australia and NZ over those last two decades, has been simply as deliverer of other countries Goals and Plans – China for one.

One wonders if Higher Education is lost in the vision of the Tom Sharpe hilarious novel & series ‘Porterhouse Blue’ – A vision of comfortable halls, with elegant top tables, and fine dining for the hierarchy of the University.

(Porterhouse Blue is a novel written by Tom Sharpe, first published in 1974. A satirical look at 'Oxbridge life' and the struggle between tradition and reform, Porterhouse Blue tells the story of Skullion, the Head Porter of Porterhouse, a fictional Oxbridge University college).

John Driscoll

AgylisANZ - Future Skills, Future Workplace

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