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Education, n. : That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding. Ambrose Bierce

After several weeks where education, and especially higher education, matters were fairly dominant, they seem to have been swamped by carbon taxes, PUPs and other features over recent times. This does not say things weren’t happening. It simply means they were not the leading topics. Deregulation of universities and fees remains in limbo. Perhaps it is time to look at a number of these commentaries and even review steps related to others.

Cuts are still being blocked [The Scan] and other decisions look no closer. The National Tertiary Education Union had polling done which suggested coalition members may be looking for other jobs in the near future [if the commentary morphs into actual votes], and are applying pressure at several universities to have vice-chancellors change [or explain] their support for deregulation, [Calling for a vote], e.g. Sydney, ANU.

Labor has stepped up opposition, but others see potential ways the government may get around this, as in Survival plan for Pyne and Unpacking Pyne’s package. Others have suggested University teaching must be more accountable under new fee model. What do you think ?

Perhaps it may be time to revisit some earlier commentary from people like Warren Bebbington and see whether in fact what they had to say has value. Profound reform possible from demand-driven system review [14/4] Changing the Mission … [20/5]; and Learning let loose : reforming our universities [8/7]. Ian Young [ANU], in his latest realistic article in [The Age], is also worth reading, though many may not agree. Similarly, many may not agree with Vicki Thomson [The Scan]. With a parliamentary break of several weeks, decisions are now well into the future

Meanwhile in international education MOOCs are still a topic of considerable interest [here they are in a lower priority]. Local commentary has included articles such as The Revolution that never happened, more emphasis has been attached overseas. MOOCs Haven’t Killed Higher Ed is but one article. 2013 - the year of ups and downs for the MOOCs also reviews [with numerous embedded links] what has happened in recent times, looking at the good and the bad. Further thoughts are found in An Optimistic View [or Not] of The Future of Higher Education. Financial imperatives may well decide the cause of MOOCs and online learning rather than in-house lectures though. It will be interesting to see a further review at the end of 2014.

It would appear from recent reports that suspension and expulsions in schools across the nations have increased significantly. Commentary such as Help disruptive students, don’t just suspend them have unfortunately been swamped by media attention to comments by Kevin Donnelly, even though these were rejected by Christopher Pyne, Kenneth Wiltshire and NSW Educators just to name a few.

The difficulty is that there is no simple, easy, obvious solution to this problem. Numerous solutions have been offered. More often than not they target only one side of the problem, and there are two sides - those who cause the problems [ irrespective of underlying causes] and those who have to deal with the end result - both teachers and students. Only when a solution that aids both sides is found will there be one that is worthwhile.

Attrition Rates [Dropping Out] have become a topic of interest. This item refers to other sources of commentary and data. These include Regional unis pay price of high attrition rates and 2013 Student Data. For those who are interested it makes fascinating reading, referring to the impact of removing caps on a demand driven system.

Other Areas of Interest

Direct Instruction as a reading process has been recommended and rejected in recent times after a grant for an expanded trial. For those who are uncertain as to just what this is and what value it may have, The Conversation has a good explanation of just what it is. Remember though, no single instructional method is best for every child. A bundle of methods is often the best procedure to use.

In light of concerns about deregulation of fees, dramatic increases in student debt and becoming like the American system, it is interesting to see what American reviews can provide for us about their levels of debt and its impact. Young Adults, Student Debt and Economic Well-being, from the Pew Research Centre and released in May this year, does just that. Earlier, related reports can be found on their Student Loans page. Draw from their conclusions what you will.

Find continual lectures boring ? Think there might be a better way ? Then you might be find the data in Active learning increases student performance in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics useful. As they indicate - “In the STEM classroom, should we ask or should we tell ?” A number of findings are provided as well as a significant range of data.

Finally, if you are a forward thinker and wonder “What will the landscape of international higher education look like a generation from now ?”, you could do much worse than read and think about the content of Universities 2030 : Learning from the Past to Anticipate the Future. With an introduction and nine short essays, it addresses the title in fascinating fashion. Ensure you read the introduction. It clearly sets the scene for the later content.

Site Changes

The following pages have been completely updated : links, descriptors, exclusions, additions : Fees, Financial Support, Scholarships, Textbooks, Universities, University Open Days, Competitions, Subject Areas, and research sections of Adult Education, Gifted Education, Homeschooling and Indigenous Education. They can be accessed via the Education, Tertiary Education, Curriculum and Resources link in the menu.

Updates have been added to the following pages : Calendar, Conferences, Journals.

20 July 2014.

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