Весьма полезная и горькая академическая статья о том, как распад австралийской академии начался с революционных менеджерских реформ лейбористов
The reforms of the Hawke government took a diversified tertiary sector that was funded more-or-less at arm‟s length from the government of the day and bludgeoned it into the National Unified System (NUS) by giving the Minister and his bureaucrats direct control of funding. Funding per student was severely cut and student numbers rose substantially. To make up the short fall, institutions were forced to become involved in distracting revenue-raising activities with little relevance to their core business and many institutions with little in common were forced into unwieldy amalgamations simply to avoid bankruptcy. The fundamental rationalisation for the reforms was to improve efficiency by running universities along corporate lines and to achieve social justice goals for disadvantaged groups, the assumption being that academics were lazy, overpaid spendthrifts who actively discriminated against people from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Two decades on, it seems that the major achievements of the Dawkins reforms have been fiscal relief for successive federal governments by transferring costs to students, the creation of a significant number of “pretend” universities and the transformation of the nation‟s academics from a group of highly skilled and committed individuals acting with a common educational purpose into little more than administrative drones. While one could accept that the tertiary sector may have been in need of change, improving the sector did not require its destruction (We are assuming here that improvement is the objective of reform).
By any measure, Australia is deep within the perfect educational storm and all the indicators point to this. We have had 30 years of the most baseless and vacuous education theory controlling curriculum and teaching in our primary and secondary schools and teacher training programs. Current theory holds that the student is the best judge of their own educational needs. They are producers and users of knowledge and teachers are there simply to manage the learning process. The teacher‟s discipline knowledge is unimportant and is more likely to be a hindrance than a help to students as they diligently go about constructing their own knowledge. There is a curious belief that all learning should be fun and that learning activities must be directly relevant to the student‟s every-day life. Rote learning and repetition are forbidden. Examinations are a discriminatory and inferior form of assessment and should be avoided as they permit the comparison of student performance which is inevitably a threat to someone‟s self-esteem. While the brightest students will continue to educate themselves, what is glaringly obvious at the tertiary level, is that there is a far greater difference in the competence between top and bottom order graduates, yet they emerge from the institution with the same qualification. Think about it the next time a medical professional snaps on the gloves in readiness for an invasive procedure.