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Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. Paulo Freire

With respect to higher education deregulation, there has been a lull for while, but hostilities are set to resume shortly. One senator’s response is already guaranteed, though many others will undoubtedly be doing the same. While the 17th seems to be the day the bill will be taken to the senate, many are suggesting that no conclusive decision will be made until the first part of 2015.

Time is short for potential discussion, debate, argument, denial, … , but as the Go8 indicates, this “would exacerbate anxieties among school students and parents who are already confused by misleading claims of exorbitant fee rises. It would also raise serious questions about timeframes for implementation”. Some unis are already taking this into account and trying to cover all bases, with La Trobe guaranteeing 500 mature-age students no more than a 10% rise in fees, if deregulation goes ahead from 2016.

There is still a running commentary from all sides, plus commentators. Some toe particular lines. Others take more pragmatic views, or actually get down to looking at specific or presumed scenarios.

These included suggestions Kim Carr might agree to caps on student numbers [since strenuously denied]. Some comments being described as “Pragmatism not enthusiasm” [ High Wired]. “Fee deregulation will not hurt the humanities” said Steven Schwartz. Opposing views came from John Bryon [“anything but fair and reasonable”] and Christian Porter, “a time warp on reform”. Greg Melleuish manages to put a [somewhat humorous though really serious] point of view about who actually benefited from, or paid for, Whitlam’s free higher education in “Gough’s Gift to luvvies”.

Meanwhile, Jeannie Rea states a belief that the “Free Market is not the right answer”. At the same time, the Minister is stating the Government’s proposed overhaul of university funding is not scaring off future students, quoting figures to support his claim.

More importantly there are others who take a non-partisan stance. Among these are Timothy Higgins who, separately and together with Bruce Chapman, continues to provide a sensible and reasoned presentation regarding fee structures and what impact various of these might have. His latest suggestion re funding up to a “cap” continues this process and in doing so he also seeks to have universities take a more active role.

Paul Kelly also presents a thoughtful case. He steps through point by point in a piece entitled Deadlocked debate delays vital university reform and lays out the facts. He looks at the roles of several groups from political parties to university groups and quotes from Bruce Chapman [the last is particularly apt]. His final conclusion, “don’t bet on much improvement” [to the whole process] seems particularly apt.

Kwong Lee Dow is another highly regarded and experienced person in regard to higher education. A statement attributed to him in the Campus Morning Mail suggests deregulation will come and soon, no matter what way it occurs. His experience over many years and the high regard in which he is held suggests he may well be on the money, even if he is not enthused by the prospect, or whether others are in favour or not.

Maybe we will see some steps toward a solution in the coming days/weeks/but more likely months, but if you hold your breath waiting, … .

While this has been bubbling along in the background, the G20, climate change agreements, “shirt fronting” and other assorted news has been tending to hog the limelight. Education, however, never gives up the fight to be in the news and other aspects and areas of education have struggled manfully to ensure it takes its rightful place.

Among these are the realisation that some students in higher education are using “an online essay writing business” to write their essays. Some of the figures quoted are quite amazing. A big story for a while but probably nothing new. Suppliers such as these have been around for quite a while and would not have lasted without ongoing patronage.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, we still seem to have universities referring, or having staff referred, to investigative bodies. Murdoch allegations revealed at least brings into the open what has been known about for some time. Link this to A ‘no-consequences’ education produc[ing] unemployable graduates and it gets worse.

The other end of the education spectrum is also in the news. Childcare centres shun ‘substandard’ graduates indicates the profession is not satisfied with the quality of some of the training. Even worse is the argument that Childcare reforms are failing to benefit children - what is going on ? Added to this is the Regulating for Quality in Childcare : The Evidence Base published by the same author on the same day. Of course, there are people who disagree with her findings, but what if she is right ?

With the curriculum review recently completed, and an uproar over one of the contributors, it is interesting to see a somewhat different position from Marie Brennan who asks “Will the curriculum review make it in to schools ?” As she says, it’s a “bit of a political waiting game ”.

Other Areas of Interest

Two articles covering quality of teachers from different parts of the world seem appropriate for inclusion at a time when the topic has some resonance here. They believe in teachers and in education for all … looks at Finland. A number of points are raised but the most telling paragraphs may well be the last two. On the other side of the world, Luring the ‘best and brightest’ indicates Singapore has much to teach on education. There are obviously differences, but there are also some common factors we might aspire to.

For those who look at education in other countries we often come across specific terminology about which we may not be as clear or certain as those who confront it every day. One of these terms is that of “common core standards” in the US. You see it quite often, but it is often presumed that those viewing it will know what it means. If, like me, you might not fall into that category, you might like to look at a concise explanation in this Explainer, that covers the term, what it means and how it is being used.

Equity in Australian Schooling - an update is written by Bernie Shepherd and Chris Bonnor. It “uses data from the My School website to explore some indicators of change in the equity of schools since the evidence on which the panel based their findings was obtained”. Well worth reading.

Site Changes

The following pages have been completely updated : links, descriptors, exclusions, additions : Reporting Resources; Research sections of Early Education, Gifted Education, Home Schooling, Indigenous Education, Middle Years, Student Welfare; Duty of Care; Educational Apps pages; Interview, Homework and Entry Options pages; University Open Days. They can be accessed via the Careers, Education, Resources and Tertiary Education links in the menu.

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

16 November 2014.

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