Saturday, September 08, 2012

VC and PM Have Heartwarming Public Talk about Education

  "He said that Victoria needed the “best higher education, secondary and vocational education we can offer”"  (See linked article)

This is very true. So why are our state government refusing to honor their election promise to make Victorian school teachers the highest paid in Australia? Why are universities still facing financial pressure and reducing staff numbers? All this rhetoric is heartwarming, but there  seems to be somewhat of a gap between the rhetoric and the reality of the situation. Getting the federal government on side is a great start, but they need help (rather than hindrance) at a state level and university governance also needs to be improved.

Universities need to invest more in pure research. It's always easier to get funding for applied research, but most of that relies on pure research that has been done before. We need social theorists in this country too. At the moment there really aren't any. There are many scholars who do social research, but the theory theories they study come predominantly from Europe, the UK and the US. Politicians can easily see the link between developing certain skills in graduates and the economic benefits they provide in the workforce. They can also see the benefit of applied research because it leads relatively directly to new industrial processes and practices. It is far harder to demonstrate that the original concepts being applied are a finite resource and that replenishing that resource also requires investment, as does the building of the expertise for doing so, which has been all but lost.

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