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vol. 51, no. 2, 2009 Published by NTEU

ISSN 0818–8068

AUR

Australian Universities’Review


AUR Editor Dr Ian R Dobson

AUR Editorial Board Dr Timo Aarrevaara Dr Carolyn Allport Professor Walter Bloom Dr Anita Devos Dr Jamie Doughney Professor Ralph Hall Professor Simon Marginson Mr Grahame McCulloch Dr Alex Millmow Dr Paul Rodan

Editorial Policy

Book Reviews

The Australian Universities’ Review (AUR, formerly Vestes) is published by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) to encourage debate and discussion about issues in higher education and its contribution to Australian public life, with an emphasis on those matters of concern to NTEU members.

Books for review should be sent to the Editor. Our policy is to review books dealing either with tertiary education or with matters pertinent to issues in tertiary education. Book reviews should be between 200 and 1200 words; review essays may be longer.

Editorial decisions are made by the Editor, assisted by the AUR Editorial Board. The views expressed in articles in this publication, unless otherwise stated, are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Editor, the Editorial Board or the publisher. Although some contributions are solicited by the Editor or the Editorial Board, AUR is anxious to receive contributions independently from staff and students in the higher education sector and other readers. AUR publishes both articles and other contributions, including short commentary and satire. Articles will be assessed by independent referees before publication. Priority is given to contributions which are substantial, lively, original and have a broad appeal. Responses to previously published contributions are encouraged.

Dr Leesa Wheelahan

AUR is listed on the DEEWR (formerly DEST) register of refereed journals.

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Contributions

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Please adhere to the style notes outlined on this page.

Editorial support: Anastasia Kotaidis

Contributors should send digital manuscripts in Word format, preferably by email to editor@aur.org.au. Contributions on CD or PC disk will also be accepted.

Cover photograph: The Shine Dome, Australian Academy of Science, Canberra. © Dirk HR Spennemann 2008. Used with permission.

Contact Details Australian Universities’ Review, c/- NTEU National Office, PO Box 1323, South Melbourne VIC Australia 3205 Phone: +613 9254 1910 Fax: +613 9254 1915

Contributions should normally be between 1,000 and 5,000 words, although longer articles will be considered. All articles should be accompanied by an abstract that would not usually be longer than 150 words. The author’s full contact details should be provided, including email address, telephone and fax. Contributions are sent to a minimum of two referees, in accordance with DEEWR requirements for blind peer review.

Email: editor@aur.org.au

Satire AUR welcomes contributions to its satirical section, ‘The corridor of uncertainty’, created in the belief that the contemporary academy provides rich resources for wit, irony and humour.

Replies and letters AUR welcomes letters of response to articles published in the journal. Longer responses to articles are also encouraged. Responses should be a maximum of 1,000 words, and should be received within a month after the publication of the journal so that they can be properly considered by the Editor and the Editorial Board for the following issue.

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Archive This and previous issues of AUR (currently back to 1981) can be viewed online at www.aur.org.au/archive.html.

Website www.aur.org.au

Style Style should follow the Australian Government Publishing Service Style Manual, Sixth Edition, 2002.

Sub-headings should be typed in lower case, ranged left, with relative importance indicated by A, B etc.

References in the text should be given in the author-date style:

Single quotation marks only should be used, except for quotes within quotes. All quotes of more than 50 words should be indented and placed in a separate paragraph.

McCallum (1990) argues... or as various authors argue (McCallum 1990; Kenway 1989). Page references should be thus: (McCallum 1990, p. 41). Page references should be used for direct quotations. The reference list should be placed in alphabetical order at the end of the paper, utilising the author-date system. For a reference to a book: In accordance with NTEU policy to reduce our impact on the natural environment, this magazine is printed on a 30% recycled stock, manufactured by a PEFC Certified mill, which is ECF Certified Chlorine Free. AUR is also available online as an e-book and PDF. Visit www.aur.org.au for details. NTEU members may opt for ‘soft delivery’ (email notification rather than printed copy) for all NTEU magazines. To access your membership details, login to the members’ area at www.nteu.org.au.

McCallum, D 1990, The social production of merit, Falmer, London. For a reference to a chapter in a collection: McCollow, J & Knight, J 2005, ‘Higher Education in Australia: An Historical Overview’, in Bella, M, McCollow, J & Knight, J (eds), Higher Education in Transition, University of Queensland, Brisbane. For a journal reference: Zappala, J & Lombard, M 1991, ‘The decline of Australian educational salaries’, Australian Bulletin of Labour, 17(1), pp. 76–95.

Dates thus: 30 June 1990. ‘ise’ should be used rather than ‘ize’, e.g. organise not organize. ‘per cent’ should be used rather than ‘%’ in the text. Abbreviations should be avoided, but if their use is necessary, they should be explained at their first use. Neither male nor female pronouns should be used to refer to groups containing persons of both sexes. Figures should be provided in EPS, PDF or Excel format, numbered consecutively in the order in which they appear (or are cited). Figures should be drawn precisely and boldly. Photographs and illustrations may be submitted for possible inclusion. Style sheet available at www.aur.org.au/submissions.html


vol. 51, no. 2, 2009 Published by NTEU

ISSN 0818–8068

Australian Universities’ Review 2

Letter from the editor

the Australian higher education sector. It provides an analysis of the perceptions, aspirations and reported activities of Australian academics in terms of their teaching, research and community service.

Ian R Dobson

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University fodder Georgina Tsolidis

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Improving student retention in higher education

The effect of casualisation in the Australian academic community is causing difficulty for academic staff in their teaching, research and administration, contributing to loss of collegiality. 70

Liz Dunphy & John P Wilson

As retention of students in their studies is a key performance indicator in university quality assurance processes, teaching and learning processes are critical in guaranteeing and improving student retention.

This paper investigates the lower rates of access to training programmes by manual grade staff, and discusses three categories of barriers to learning for such staff. It is based on related studies at two universities in the north of England.

Student/Worker/Carer: The intersecting priorities of Arts students

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Troy Coyle

This paper reports on a focus group study of student experience and learning in a large humanities and social science faculty in Australia. It considers how the combination of meaningful learning in university classrooms with students’ other life aspirations.

Universities need to develop a customer service culture in order to be competitive and attractive to industry. This article recommends a ‘service quality survey instrument’ approach to help universities to improve service delivery to their corporate partners.

The international student as student, migrant and victim

Rethinking the Australian doctoral examination process

OPINION 87

The doctoral examination process in Australia needs to be rethought in order to enable a closer alignment between it and the aims of the learning programme.

This short paper describes the mutations of university rankings systems and examines likely future developments as they continue to spread across the globe. REVIEWS 91

Chinese students’ culturally-specific features have an impact on the processes by which they commence their higher degrees by research candidature. An appreciation of their different educational background could be used to create a better understanding of the Australian supervisor-Chinese PhD student relationship. Diversity in Australian higher education Leo Goedegebuure, Hamish Coates, JJ van der Lee & V Lynn Meek

This paper uses data from the international ‘changing academic profession’ (CAP) survey to assess the degree of diversity within

The virtuous researcher Researching with integrity: The ethics of academic enquiry by Bruce Macfarlane. Review by Margaret Lindorff

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Cultural issues in commencing the supervision of Chinese research students Richard Ingleby & Mona Chung

University Rankings 2.0 Alex Usher

Margaret Kiley

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The competition for industry research funding

JaneMaree Maher, Jennifer Mitchell & Kate Brown

A recent trend into research into overseas students has seen them as victims. The victim role plays easily into preconceived notions, helping to sustain an exploiter and exploited framework in which deeper issues remain unaddressed. This article raises such questions and makes the case for greater acknowledgement of the complexities in this contentious area of public policy.

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Widening participation?

Glenda Crosling, Margaret Heagney & Liz Thomas

Paul Rodan

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The vanishing idea of a scholarly life Ann Lazarfield Jensen & Kylie Morgan

University entry remains a key element in parents’ decisions about the secondary school their children should attend. This paper explores school choice within the Government sector is explored, where many parents seek to enrol their children in high-performing schools.

Waiting for Gough Gough Whitlam: A Moment in History. The Biography, Volume I by Jenny Hocking. Review by Paul Rodan

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Cheaters’ superhighway Plagiarism, the Internet and Student Learning Improving Academic Integrity by Wendy Sutherland-Smith. Review by Helen Song-Turner

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Free trade in education Teaching in Transnational Higher Education: Enhancing learning for offshore international students by Lee Dunn and Michelle Wallace (eds). Review by Paul Kniest


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Letter from the editor Ian R Dobson

We live in interesting times.As elements of the Bradley Review move towards becoming Rudd Government policy, our ever-changing university sector continues to behave as though change is the only constant. As we speak, aspects of the Australian Government’s overseas student policy are being put under pressure, university staff are under pressure on a number of fronts (including staff redundancies) and it’s not all beer and skittles for university students either. Universities continue to be required to do more with less, and to ‘compete’. This, the second issue of Australian Universities’ Review for 2009 features material that provides commentary on a number of critical issues. Readers will find papers that range from pre-university behaviour through to research commercialisation as a source of funds, dealing on the way with examinations of several student and staff issues. Georgina Tsolidis examines the ‘pre-university’ stage of the process by providing a study of elite government schools and their place in the scheme of things.This is followed by two papers that consider the mutual challenges faced by undergraduate students and universities alike. The paper on student retention by Glenda Crosling et al. provides a succinct summary of many of the issues to do with student retention.To the same end, Maher et al. report on a focus group study of the student experience of students in the humanities. Fees paid by overseas students have become an important source of income for government cashstrapped Australian universities, and Paul Rodan’s paper considers recent developments in this area. Also on the topic of students from overseas, Ingleby and Chung look at Chinese PhD students at Australian universities, examining cultural issues in the interactions between students and staff.

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Letter from the editor, Ian R Dobson

In the final offering on students, Margaret Kiley’s paper looks at the alignment between the doctoral examination process and the stated aim of doctoral programmes. This issue of AUR contains three papers on aspects of university staffing. First, Leo Goedegebuure and his colleagues examine ‘diversity’, part of the Australian government’s higher education agenda for some time. Using data from the international ‘CAP’ survey on the changing nature of the academic profession, they conclude that there is less diversity than might have been expected. Next, Lazerfield and Morgan report on a survey on workload calculations. Although this paper reports on a survey undertaken at a particular university, many universities have introduced (or are in the process of introducing) workload models that are similar to the one discussed. We hope this university does not feel ‘singled out’. The paper also considers the widely-reported casualisation of the Australian academic workforce. Finally, Liz Dunphy and John Wilson provide AUR with a paper from England that look at some of the staff frequently discounted in studies on university staff. Several papers in the past have also considered the way in which university staff other than academics are often ‘overlooked’, even though they typically make up more than half of all university staff.This paper reports on a study from ‘up north’, reporting on barriers to staff development for manualgrade staff. Troy Coyle’s paper on industry funding for research reports on the principle-client relationship between universities and industry. How can universities improve their competitiveness? How can they develop a customer service culture? This issue’s ‘opinion’ section presents a highlyreadable summary of the past, present and future of vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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international comparisons between universities. This paper was written by Canada’s Alex Usher, a frequent commentator on university ranking, tuition fees and student support. Readers will also see that AUR is continuing to boost its book review section. The reviews of four recentlypublished volumes in this issue attest to this. Publishers and authors interested in having their books reviewed should contact the editor (editor@aur.org.au). On behalf of the AUR editorial board and publication team, I hope you enjoy this issue of AUR. If you have any suggestions for improvement, please contact

vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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me. Please consider AUR as a place to publish your work. Although a journal called Australian Universities’ Review has a rather obvious focus, universities in the twenty-first century cannot be insular. Many of the challenges to the modern university, whether located in Australia or overseas, are common to us all. AUR therefore seeks material from around the globe. Of course, AUR has a larger ‘reach’ than most journals; at present it circulates about 8,000 in hard copy, and is freely available through its website (www.aur.org.au). Please keep the papers rolling in!

Letter from the editor, Ian R Dobson

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University fodder Understanding the place of select entry and high performing government schools Georgina Tsolidis University of Ballarat

School choice is most commonly considered in the context of private/public schooling and access to university. University entry remains a key element in family decision-making about which school they would like their children to attend. Debates about school choice are most commonly framed in relation to marketisation and the relative popularity of private and public schools. However, the demand for high performing Government schools is likely to increase and in turn have an impact on the means by which families argue their case for entry. Here school choice within the Government sector is explored, most particularly within Victoria, where there have been a number of pertinent policy initiatives.

Prologue I was determined to get my daughter in. I went to every Open Day starting in Years 4, 5 and 6. I still go. It took me two years to get her in. Open Day is always crowded with people hanging outside the Hall. I always go early to get a seat. She always understood the expectation that we wanted her to go to Leafy Suburbs College. She had a letter from the principal of her primary school urging her acceptance at Leafy Suburbs College. We advised her to play an instrument other than flute, which is too popular and not as well weighted as other less popular instruments such as the oboe. Mother with two daughters at the school. (Tsolidis 2006 p. 42) I made inquiries on behalf of my daughter in 1999. I was told that my child was not eligible since I did not meet the zone requirements. I was told that I live on the wrong side of the road that marks the zone. Two students in the same class as my daughter, who do not live in the zone now attend Leafy Suburbs College. Three students from the same family living in my street attend Leafy Suburbs College. Mother of an unsuccessful applicant. (Tsolidis 2006, p. 42)

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University fodder, Georgina Tsolidis

The mechanics of school choice change dramatically when the neighbourhood comprehensive school is no longer the default destination for families. Many parents opt for high-performing Government schools and frenzy can surround such schools because demand for places outstrips supply. Leafy Suburbs College is a high performing Government school in Victoria and the comments made by the parents quoted above, reflect the investment many families make in such schools. If trends in Australia follow those in other countries, the demand for high performing Government schools is likely to increase and in turn have an impact on the means by which families argue their case for entry. In Victoria there is a trend away from comprehensive schooling, a shift to private schools and intense competition for places at high-performing Government schools. This reiterates similar patterns played out nationally and internationally (Sherington and Campbell 2006, Forsey 2007, Forsey et al. 2008). With growing economic uncertainty there is likely to be increased pressure on high-performing Government schools as families move away from high-cost private schools. There is a possibility that this issue will be played out in Australia, as it has been in England, vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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where more than 80,000 appeals were lodged in 2007 because students were allocated to schools which were not their first preference. An industry is emerging in England to support parents in gaining admission for their children to their preferred schools, including through the provision of legal advice and consultations about school choice (Clark 2008). It is not surprising that choosing a school can create anxiety for parents, particularly as they select secondary schools (Tsolidis 2006, Aitchenson 2006, Campbell et al. 2009).The link between university education and economic and social well-being remains and in this context, the capacity of a school to facilitate access to higher education continues to mark some schools as desirable. In Australia, it is students from private schools who continue to enter universities and this participation is reflecting social segregation with students from high socioeconomic status (SES) areas three times as likely as low SES students to enter university. Medium SES students remain marginally under-represented. Low SES students who participate in higher education remain clustered in a few institutions, with the number entering the eight elite universities having dropped in the period 2001 – 2005 (CSHE 2008). The ranking of schools on the basis of VCE results relates strongly to debates about social justice and education (Teese 2000). Scores describe differences between groups of students or schools, rather than explain why such differences occur. This is particularly pertinent with regard to the relative merits of Government, Catholic, and Independent schools and, increasingly, to differences within each of these sectors. Socioeconomic and cultural differences between students, school admission policies and resourcing of schools are some of the issues that have a dramatic impact on relative rankings, but which can remain hidden by the figures. Some economists argue that the use of unadjusted league tables as the principal performance indicator in a quasi-market model opens up a route for schools to ‘play the system’ by improving their (perceived) performance by optimising the structure of their student body either in terms of socioeconomic composition or prior academic ability. As parents adopt this performance indicator as a determinant of school choice, it exerts a pressure for increased social segregation between schools. As student composition becomes more polarised, the increased social segregation reduces equity of outcomes between schools (Bradley et al. 2004). The potential for parents’ choice of school to have an vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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impact on social segregation is particularly pertinent in Victoria given access to league tables and new government measures being adopted which make schools accountable for student performance, including linking this to school closures (Tomazin 2009a). In Victoria, while there has been a general drift away from the Government sector (Tomazin 2009b), high demand continues for the two Government selectentry schools and a number of other high performing Government schools. In 2006, as one of its election pledges, the Victorian Government earmarked $40 million for an initiative to expand the number of select entry schools within the state (Ker & Rood 2006). Funding for these schools was formally announced in April 2008. The proposed schools will enrol students in 2010 and will be situated in Berwick and Wyndham Vale. Berwick is a fast growing suburb in Melbourne’s south-east, and Wyndham Vale is in the west. The Berwick school will have a close relationship with Monash University and the other school will be linked with the University of Melbourne (Tomazin 2008). This is a move away from the more traditional support for comprehensive schooling by Victorian Labor Governments. Unlike NSW where there is a stronger tradition of select entry schooling, there have been only two such schools in Victoria, both of which trace their origins to 1905. Entry to Melbourne High School for boys and MacRobertson Girls’ High School is based on student performance in examinations at Year 8 level. The sense of exclusivity of these schools is reinforced by a Government-imposed requirement that no more that 3 per cent of Year 8 students from any one school may be offered places at either school. Selective entry functions as a form of ‘skimming’ that enables these schools to consistently achieve some of the best Year 12 results for the state, with MacRobertson achieving the highest VCE results of all Victorian schools for five consecutive years (Leung 2006). The initiative to open two additional selective schools needs to be explored as a political attempt to boost faith in public schooling. Whilst not formally select-entry schools, several other Victorian Government schools have employed more or less subtle selection mechanisms to achieve academic status. These schools are widely known for their excellent results and are notoriously difficult for prospective students to gain access to. In broad terms, high demand for entry is managed through a complicated mix of zoning, examination-based entry into accelerated programmes, and specialised curriculum pathways.The popularity of these schools has contribUniversity fodder, Georgina Tsolidis

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uted to increases in property prices within their zones as aspirational parents seek to buy houses on the birth of their first child (Tsolidis 2006). The outstanding results obtained by students from such schools allow some Government schools to compete favourably with the higher performing private schools. The Equivalent National Tertiary Entry Rank (ENTER) is an aggregation of each student’s relative performance when compared with all other students. On the basis of ENTERs determined through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) data, high performing Government schools can be understood as those where at least 40 per cent of Year 12 students obtained a score of at least 80.00 (indicating that they out-performed 80 per cent of all Year 12 students), which would allow entry to a broad range of university courses. On the basis of 2006 data, 22 Victorian Government schools could be defined as high performing, in these terms. (Schools with fewer than 20 Year 12 enrolments and Victoria’s two selective entry schools have been excluded from this analysis). These 22 schools had 3,186 students or 17 per cent of all Year 12 students at Government schools.To place this result in a State-wide context that includes non-Government schools, 18 Catholic schools and 62 Independent schools with more than 20 enrolments in Year 12 also had 40 per cent of their Year 12 student bodies generating ENTERs of at least 80.00. School choice can have an impact on social segregation and the public’s perception of particular Government schools can create huge demand for some and threaten the viability of others that families perceive as not meeting their needs. Given the potential of school choice to polarise provision in this way, there is a need to consider the basis on which we engage with related issues. On one hand, we can demonise highperforming Government schools that ‘play the system’ in various ways – and in so doing contribute to further residualisation within the sector. On the other hand, we can explore such schools and their potential to disrupt the uncomplicated passage of students between elite Independent and Catholic schools and universities, particularly those also deemed elite. If we accept the argument that public schools can function as the front line in the battle for social justice (Nieto 2005) we cannot afford to dismiss the role of select entry and high performing Government schools.This should not be read as unqualified support for such schools but instead as recognition that such schools occupy an ambivalent space in debates about public school-

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University fodder, Georgina Tsolidis

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ing and social justice. In the case of such Government schools, they are often characterised as ‘pretend private schools’ (Tsolidis 2006). Like many ambivalent spaces they are situated in the borderlands (Anzaldua 1987), a location that provides opportunities to see things differently and to challenge assumptions taken for granted about the current ‘lay of the land’. Here attention is drawn to several assumptions, embedded in debates about school choice, particularly in relation to the Government sector, that warrant further consideration. Academic debates about school choice have often assumed the perspective of mainstream, middle-class parents for whom choice is understood as possible, including within the Government sector. With more financial and cultural resources, these parents can afford at least modest private schools or are educationliterate enough to gain places at desirable Government schools. Parents in the latter category employ tutors to coach students to sit entry examinations for accelerated programmes or select entry schools. They also ensure that their children learn musical instruments or gain other experiences, which signal prospective secondary schools students’ capacity to complete Year 12 successfully. Some commentators focus on middle class parents because their support of Government schools is necessary if comprehensive schooling is to survive. It is necessary that they send their children to the neighbourhood Government school, so that polarisation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ schools does not occur. Commentators debate this as a ‘burden of justice’, which requires middle class parents to support their local school regardless of its perceived capacity to cater for their children (Swift 2003, Clayton & Stevens 2004). Middle class parents are commonly earmarked for research because they are understood as exercising choice, which adds weightiness to their opinions. Parents deemed as having limited resources and no choice but to send their children to the neighbourhood Government school, are less well represented within the literature. In this sense, middle class choice can equal voice, restricting our exposure to the perceptions and experiences of other sectors of society. Parents are implicated in debates about ‘white flight’ whereby schools with high enrolments of racialised and ethnicised students are shunned, adding a further dimension to the polarisation of school communities (Kristen 2005, Crozier et al. 2008). This is currently being played out in Australia most dramatically in relavol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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argue that school choice is pragmatic because it is a means towards upward social mobility. However, they point out that for groups without traditional access to higher education, school choice is also heavily imbued with the non-rational and cultural. For such groups it involves risk and anxiety because such choice and investment is pegged to becoming something different. It is a decision that can mark a shift in identity and as such is not taken lightly. There is also the assumption that Year 12 results are ‘People fear there is a monoculture in some subthe only factor taken into account in decision-making urbs. They believe there is an over-dominance of some cultures in schools, which is denigrating about school choice. Whilst there are clear economic the quality of education…..So they are withdrawincentives for gaining access to high-performing Goving their kids from government high schools and ernment schools relative to high-fee private schools, sending them to religious or selective high schools. framing school choice strictly as ‘value for money’ This leads to further concentration of marginalised (where ‘value’ is defined as Year 12 results) may be miscommunities in government schools and the further leading. Parent decision-making can be framed more stigmatisation of these schools’ (Ferguson quoted in Topsfield, 2008). broadly. Parents are concerned with school culture, curriculum pathways, faciliWhile the link between ties, proximity, extra-curricthe middle-class and highParents are concerned with school culture, ula activities, pedagogy and performing Government curriculum pathways, facilities, proximity, discipline. There are also schools may be strong, it extra-curricula activities, pedagogy and issues related to family trais still worth questioning discipline. There are also issues related to ditions, values and beliefs. the assumption that these family traditions, values and beliefs. Such factors influence schools are the sole domain selection between the Govof the middle class. Selecternment, Independent and entry and high performing Catholic systems as much as choice of a school within Government schools are very popular and families each. In this context it is important to consider that go to extreme measures in order to gain a place for families, including middle class families, may value a their children. It may be misleading to assume that the strong Government school sector. They may value the postcode of the school adequately illustrates the socioideal of the neighbourhood school for its potential to economic status of its students. There is evidence that contribute to community. some high-performing schools accommodate a broad There is a tradition of comprehensive schooling in range of families, including low-income families receivAustralia (Campbell 2006) and it may be that families ing government welfare benefits. Students come to opt for an alternative with reluctance. In other words, such schools from a wide range of suburbs, including rather than understanding Government schooling as those in poorer areas. Within school zones there is a the ‘last resort’, because private schooling remains wide variety of housing, with poorer families purchasunaffordable, it may be that families value the notion of ing single bedroom flats in order to qualify for school a neighbourhood Government school and are pushed entry (Tsolidis 2006). Assuming that only middle class into other sectors because they understand this system parents have educational aspirations for their children as having been eroded. and the wherewithal to fulfil these may be too limiting a view. Commenting on the UK experience, Ball et al. state Conclusion that for those without a history of participation in higher education, particularly the working class and The establishment of a free, compulsory and secular ethnic minorities, entry to higher education needs education system in Australia has strong historical to be understood as ‘the outcome of several stages links with egalitarian aspirations. An ethos that promof decision-making in which choices and constraints ises all students the chance of reaching their fullest or barriers inter-weave’ (Ball et al. 2002, p. 67). They potential regardless of their backgrounds is important tion to refugee students. It has been argued that settlement policies for refugee families need to account for their impact on schooling. Mr Ferguson, who at the time of writing was the Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs has argued that ‘white flight’ is evident in parts of Sydney and Melbourne where there are high concentrations of refugee families. Because of this, he believes that school choice has become a major challenge for multicultural Australia. He has stated:

vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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in terms of economic development. This is clearly a somewhat idealistic view of schooling made evident as such by the polarisation between the types of students who gain access to higher education and the types of schools that do and don’t facilitate this access. Schooling also has the potential to play a significant role with regard to social cohesion or social fragmentation. The notion of ‘white flight’ and the settlement of refugee families is a vivid example of the link between school choice feeding a particular type of social fracturing. Whilst there is mounting evidence that schooling may not contribute to egalitarianism we need to consider the strategic implications of letting such a vision evaporate totally. Arguably, there are incentives in keeping the vision alive even if it serves only as a bench-mark for how far we have drifted away from its enactment.This is particularly the case in the current Victorian context where policy initiatives are emphasising selective schools, league tables and performance measures linked to possible school closures. The popularity of high-performing schools offers us an opportunity to understand what families find attractive in a school. And the link between such schools and elite universities may allow these universities to diversify their student populations. Competition for places at high performing government schools is likely to intensify as more families look to Government schooling to replace high-fee paying private schools (Jensen & Noonan, 2008). However, without adequate resourcing, Government schools are unlikely to support the broad range of students achieve their aspirations, making access to university the prerogative of the resourceful, regardless of whether being resourceful is linked to postcode or knowing what high-performing schools use as indicators of success. Georgina Tsolidis is a professor of education at the University of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.

References Aitchenson, C 2006, ‘Mothers and School Choice: Effects on the Home Front’, Unpublished PhD Thesis, Faculty of Education, University of Technology, Sydney. Anzaldua, G 1987, Borderlands: the new mestiza = La frontera, San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute. Ball, S, Davies, J, David, M & Reay, D 2002, ‘‘Classification’ and ‘Judgement’: social class and the ‘cognitive structures’ of choice of Higher Education’, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 23 (1) 51 – 72.

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Campbell, C, Proctor, H & Sherington, G 2009, School choice : how parents negotiate the new school market in Australia, Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. CSHE (Centre for the Study of Higher Education) 2008, Participation and Equity – A review of the participation in higher education of people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and Indigenous people. University of Melbourne. Clark, L 2008, ‘Now desperate parents hire lawyers to give them head start in battle for school places’, Mail Online, 23 October. Clayton, M & Stevens, D 2004, ‘School Choice and the burden of justice’, Theory and Research in Education, 2 (2) 111 – 126. Crozier, G, Rheay, D, James, D, Jamieson, F, Beedell, P, Hollingworth, S & Williams, K 2008, ‘White middle-class parents, identities, educational choice and the urban comprehensive school: ambivalence and moral ambiguity’, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29 (3), 261-272. Forsey, MG 2007, Challenging the System? A Dramatic Tale of Neoliberal Reform in an Australian High School, Information Age Publishing, United States. Forsey, MG, Davies, S & Walford, G (eds) 2008, The Globalisation of School Choice?, Oxford : Symposium Books. Jensen, E & Noonan, G 2008, ‘Parents abandon private schools as downturn bits’, Sydney Morning Herald, <http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/parents-abandon-private-schools-as-downturn-bites/2008/10/31/1224956332552. html>, 1 November. Accessed 5 March, 2009. Ker, P & Rood, D 2006, ‘Labor gives tick to selective schools’, The Age, 10 November ,http://www.theage.com.au/news/victoria-votes/labor-gives-tick-to-selectiveschools/2006/11/09/1162661832160.html> Accessed 1 February, 2008. Kristen, C 2005, School Choice and Ethnic Segregation, Germany: Waxman Verlag GmbH. Leung, C 2006, ‘MacRobertson girls celebrates fifth year at the top’, The Age, 14 December, <http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/macrobertson-girlscelebrate-fifth-year-at-top/2006/12/13/1165685753143.html#> Accessed 5 March, 2009. Nieto, S 2005, ‘Public Education in the Twentieth Century and Beyond: High Hopes, Broken Promises, and an Uncertain Future’, Harvard Educational Review; Spring 2005; 75; Academic Research Library, 43- 61. Sherington, G & Campbell, C 2006, The Comprehensive Public High School – Historical Perspectives, New York : Palgrave Macmillan. Swift, A 2003, How Not to be a Hypocrite: School Choice for the Morally Perplexed Parent, London : Routledge. Teese. R 2000, Academic Success and Social Power – Examinations and Inequality, Carlton South : Melbourne University Press. Tomazin, F 2008, ‘Two new selective schools to target brightest students’, The Age, 2 April. <http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/two-new-selectiveschools-to-target-brightest-students/2008/04/01/1206850910991.html> Accessed 5 March 2009. Tomazin, F 2009a, ‘Draft urges school closures, mergers’, The Age, 3 February. <http://www.theage.com.au/national/draft-urges-school-closures-mergers20090202-7vrm.html> Accessed 5 March 2009. Tomazin, F 2009b, ‘Parents Abandoning Public Schools’, The Age, 30 January. <http://www.theage.com.au/national/draft-urges-school-closures-mergers20090202-7vrm.html> Accessed 5 March, 2009. Topsfield, J 2008, ‘Push to tackle ‘white flight’’, The Age, March 21. <http://www. theage.com.au/articles/2008/03/20/1205602581678.html> Accessed 5 March, 2009. Tsolidis, G 2006, Youthful Imagination, Schooling, subcultures and social justice, NY : Peter Lang.

Bradley, S, Draca, M & Green, C 2004, ‘School Performance in Australia: Is there a role for quasi markets?, Australian Economic Review, 37 (3) 271 – 86.

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Improving student retention in higher education Improving Teaching and Learning Glenda Crosling, Margaret Heagney Monash University

Liz Thomas Edge Hill University, UK

As a key performance indicator in university quality assurance processes, the retention of students in their studies is an issue of concern world-wide. Implicit in the process of quality assurance is quality improvement. In this article, we examine student retention from a teaching and learning perspective, in terms of teaching and learning approaches that have an impact on students’ decisions to continue with or withdraw from their studies. The major need is to engage students in their studies, and in this article we discuss ways that student engagement can be facilitated through the teaching and learning programme in higher education currently.

Introduction An issue of concern in higher education institutions across the world is the retention and success of students in their studies.This is a particularly pressing issue in the context of widening participation for under-represented student groups, increasing student diversity and educational quality assurance and accountability processes. As well as the personal impact and loss of life chances for students, non-completion has financial implications for students (and their families), and for society and the economy through the loss of potential skills and knowledge.There are also financial and reputational implications for higher education institutions. While students who do not complete may still benefit from skills developed, including increased confidence vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

and life experiences (Quinn et al., 2005), in the current competitive and globalised higher education market, the reputational fall-out of low student retention and high student attrition figures can be damaging for institutions (Yorke and Longden, 2004). The importance of student retention in Australia is underscored by its inclusion via institutional statistics as a key performance indicator in educational quality and in the allocation of the Commonwealth Government’s Learning and Teaching Performance Fund. Student attrition and retention rates are defined as ‘... the percentage of students in a particular year who neither graduate nor continue studying in an award course at the same institution in the following year’ (Department of Education, Science and Training, 2005). Retention statistics are also used to measure institutions’ equity Improving student retention in higher education, Crosling et al.

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performance which in turn determines their funding from the Higher Education Equity Support Program. In the UK there are two measures of retention, which are similarly narrow, and these are translated into institutional performance indicators: ‘The first is the ‘completion rate’ – the proportion of starters in a year who continue their studies until they obtain their qualification, with no more than one consecutive year out of higher education. As higher education courses take years to complete, an expected completion rate is calculated by the Higher Education Statistics Agency… A more immediate measure of retention is the proportion of an institution’s intake which is enrolled in higher education in the year following their first entry to higher education. This is the ‘continuation rate’ (National Audit Office, 2007, p. 5). In the UK, these indicators are contextualised by a ‘benchmark’ for each institution, which takes account of students’ entry qualifications and subjects studied, and thus suggests what the completion and continuation rates ought to be. These factors are also used to allocate funding to support the retention of students in higher education via the core grant. Students may not continue with their studies for a variety of factors. Research exploring the reasons for student withdrawal tends to conclude that there is rarely a single reason why students leave. In most cases, the picture is complex and students leave as a result of a combination of inter-related factors. Echoing the findings of an Australian study, (Long, Ferrier and Heagney, 2006), a synthesis of UK research on student retention (Jones, 2008) identified the following categories of reasons why students withdraw: poor preparation for higher education; weak institutional and/or course match, resulting in poor fit and lack of commitment; unsatisfactory academic experience; lack of social integration; financial issues; and personal circumstances. Thus, some students withdraw for reasons beyond the jurisdiction of the institution, including personal reasons and changed personal circumstances, wrong or ‘second choice’ course selection and movement to other courses that meet their interests and aspirations more directly. From this perspective, while the value of statistics solely as a reflection of educational quality seems questionable, the concept of continual improvement is implicit in accountability and quality assurance processes and in funding via the Learning and Teaching Performance Fund (Walshe, 2008). This then leads to consideration of the impact and effect of the quality

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assurance activity (Stensaker, 2008), of how ‘the core processes of higher education – teaching and learning – are improved’ (Stensaker, 2008, p. 60) – and the impact this has on student retention and success rates. Despite the unstated objective of improvement in quality assurance and in the Learning and Teaching Performance Fund, which aims to reward excellence, it is not clear how statistics might promote improvement (Walshe, 2008, p. 275). Stensaker (2008) has argued that to achieve quality teaching and learning emanating from quality assurance, there needs to be movement beyond definitions and technical processes, with attention placed on good teaching and learning practice, which should then underpin statistical improvement. For student retention, the more microlevel issues involve outlining the teaching and learning factors that promote student continuation with their studies. While factors such as the personal and course selection are largely beyond the power of the teachers, they may ask what they can do to enhance the possibility of students continuing with their studies. The phenomenon of breaking student retention into its component parts from a teaching and learning perspective provides guidance for institutions and teachers in educational quality improvement. In this article we discuss factors that have an impact on student retention from the teaching and learning view, of which the most significant is the students’ experience of university (Scott, 2005) and the need for students to be engaged in their studies. Drawing on the premise of our recent publication (Crosling, Thomas and Heagney, 2008) and that also espoused by Tinto (2005) of the range of factors in contemporary higher education that have an impact on students’ retention. These include: pre-entry information, preparation and admission processes; induction and transition support; learning, teaching, assessment and curriculum development; social engagement; student support, including financial and pastoral services; and improved use of institutional data (Jones, 2008). The academic experience, and in particular the teaching, learning and assessment practices are within the control of teachers.We point out that what goes on in the teaching and learning programme is significant in student retention. In Australia and world-wide, student engagement is generally acknowledged as a key factor in student retention, and enhancing student engagement is a fundamental strategy for improving student retention, success and outcomes (McInnes and James,1995; Horstmanshof and Zimitat, 2007; Chen, Lattica and vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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interactive learning as the basis for developing underHamilton, 2008). Krause and Coates (2008) point standing of core disciplinary concepts, and these out that in first year studies, it is crucial to encourage underpin academic success with strong implications and assist student engagement as the foundation for for student retention. successful study in later years. Student engagement There is thus a ‘dynamic interplay’ (Brysen and Hand, is defined as a student’s academic commitment and 2007) between student engagement, the quality of stuapplication (Horstmanshoff and Zimitat, 2007, citing dent learning and the teaching and learning context. Astin, 1984) and shown in time and energy devoted In support of this view, Chen et al. (2008) identify to activities that are educationally purposeful.This also engagement as being composed of the two aspects of connotes the quality of student effort and students the degree of time and effort students use for educastudying for meaning and understanding (Marton and tion, but also the ‘way an institution organises learning Saljo, 1984) thus reflecting a constructivist approach opportunities and services’ (Chen et al, 2008,p. 340) so to learning (Lawrence, 2005). as to encourage students to take part in and thus benHowever, engagement is not the sole responsibility efit from activities. The curriculum in a broad sense, of the student as it concerns students interacting with or the teaching and learning programme, provides an the learning environment (Bryson and Hand, 2007), ideal forum for approaches and strategies that encourrather than being passive within it.Thus managers and age students to engage, as it teachers have some responis experienced in one form sibility to provide a setting There is thus a ‘dynamic interplay’ ... or another by all students that facilitates students’ between student engagement, the quality (Crosling, Thomas and engagement and learning, of student learning and the teaching and Heagney, 2008). that ‘gets students to parlearning context. Tinto (2000) also points ticipate in activities that out that the class room is lead to success’ (Kuh, 2003, often the only setting in cited in Kezar and Kinzie, which students meet other students and their teach2005, p. 150). ers. Tinto (2000) expands on some conditions that In our publication (Crosling, Thomas and Heagney, underpin students’ engagement and thus their persist2008), we point out the value of student-responsive ence in their studies. These include the institution and curriculum development as a means to promote teachers holding high expectations of students in their student engagement. This refers to students being learning, but also recognising that many commencing immersed in authentic curriculum contents and tasks students may not be adequately prepared for the rigthat are challenging and relevant to students’ lives and ours of academic study and the concurrent need for futures, appropriate orientation or induction proceacademic support, especially in disciplinary contexts, dures, and the integration of study skills. Concurrently, that help students to ‘know the rules’ (Tinto, 2000, p. students benefit from collaborative learning situations, 91). According to Tinto, feedback about academic perwhere learning is active and interactive between stuformance is important for students in academic sucdents and their peers in and outside the classroom, as cess, and involvement with fellow students in learning well as with the teachers. Formative assessment is cruin the classroom (Tinto, 2000). cial, providing immediate and relevant information for The current interest in student engagement has students’ academic development needs at the particuoccurred in a climate where higher education has lar point in time. moved to a massified system with fewer resources so Further to this, Chen et al. (2008) argue that acathat over decades, there has been concern about the demic success which underpins student retention development of student learning in the higher educarequires more than acquisition of knowledge, and that tion teaching and learning context. For instance, Kezar the classroom is an important introductory point for and Kinzie, (2005, p. 149) cite Altbach (1997) that helping students to begin to master key disciplinary these factors have contributed to increased movement concepts. In support of this, Meyer and Land (2005) towards the lecture method of teaching from the early put forward the pivotal role of students’ understandpart of the last century in America, which has led to ings of what they call disciplinary threshold concepts less interaction between students and teachers, and for academic survival and success. The implication several higher education commentators have noted here is that the classroom needs to include active and vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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that learning is less likely to occur in such large, impersonal and passive learning environments (Astin, 1993; Chickering, and Gamson, 1987, cited in Kezar and Kinzie, 2005,p. 149). Supporting this, Brysen and Hand (2007) point out that engagement can be fostered by student-centred conceptual orientation compared with teacher centred content orientation in teaching.

Curriculum development The curriculum is experienced by all students, albeit in different forms. Indeed, for many non-traditional student groups the formal learning experience is the majority or only part of their student experience. In other words, because they live off campus, study at a distance and/or part-time, and/or have work and family responsibilities, they might not be able to participate in extra curricular activities, social and sporting events and informal learning and socialising.There is a body of evidence from the US (and increasingly in other countries) that the more students interact with other students and staff, the more likely they are to persist (e.g. Astin, 1984; Tinto, 1997). Furthermore, both social and academic integration into a higher education institution have a positive impact on their sense of belonging to (Reay et al., 2001), and ultimately retention within, that environment (Thomas, 2002). Despite different modes of delivery and forms across disciplines, the curriculum forms a platform for the implementation of approaches and strategies that engage students in their university experience. The notion of curriculum is used in divergent ways both within and across HE systems, and often without a shared understanding of its meaning (Fraser and Bosanquet, 2006). We are using the term here in a broad way, to include learning, teaching, assessment, academic support and induction, as well as programme contents. We view the curriculum as the primary way to engage students both academically and socially, and to build institutional commitment (Berger & Braxton, 1998) and belonging (Leathwood and O’Connell, 2003; Read et al., 2003;Thomas 2002). Several factors are important in improving student retention and success: Orientation and induction Traditionally higher education institutions have offered new students a ‘Welcome’ or ‘Freshers’’ week on arrival. Using teacher-centred methods of communication, the emphasis has been on conveying the

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status of the institution and overloading students with information. More recently, there has been greater recognition of the need to induct students into the wider higher education environment via more student-centred strategies to enable students to learn about and understand the expectations and culture of higher education (Yorke and Thomas 2003; Crosling, 2003). Some institutions are now introducing ‘longer and thinner’ induction that starts earlier and lasts beyond a week (Layer et al., 2002,Thomas et al., 2002b). This provides a more effective opportunity for new students to assimilate and make sense of the information provided, to socialise with the staff and existing students through a range of activities and to feel that they belong in the higher education community at their institution (Thomas et al., 2005b). Early engagement could include the provision of timetables, course handbooks and reading lists, summer schools, or materials accessed via a virtual learning environment. Early engagement can benefit students by preparing them for their course, demonstrating what will be expected of them, and assisting them to feel a part of the institution. Institutions are increasingly interacting with students prior to entry to develop institutional and course commitment and engagement. Integration of the induction process into the subject specific curriculum helps students to learn in the context of their discipline (Ward, Crosling & Marangos, 2000). For example, some institutions have an accredited first semester induction module, which is discipline based, and involves group work to explore aspects of the transition process. This can be assessed using transparent and formative approaches to allow students to develop the skills and understanding of learning in higher education, whilst also developing their subject-based knowledge. Such approaches to induction enable students to adjust their expectations of learning, teaching and assessment, and encourage staff to use learning and teaching strategies that enable students to engage and feel included in their studies. This requires a responsiveness to students, and a student-centred, rather than a teacher-centred, approach to the learning process. Authentic curriculum The curriculum is usually situated within a discipline, which determines the curriculum contents and the disciplinary norms and expectations that shape the academic culture and values and the ways of learning which are expected or assumed. A significant factor vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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in students’ success or otherwise in their learning in higher education and in the disciplines is the intention with which they approach their studies (Marton and Saljo, 1976). This affects the degree to which the students engage with their subjects. If they study with a ‘deep’ approach, they are seeking understanding and meaning. Alternatively, with a ‘surface’ approach, students have the intention of rote-learning information, without linking knowledge and understandings. A strategic or achieving approach is one where the intention is to obtain a high grade (Biggs 1987). Arguably, students who are engaged, deriving meaning and understanding from their studies and therefore demonstrating a deep approach to learning, are more likely to continue. It is argued that the curriculum ought to be culturally relevant to support widening participation and to prepare graduates for living and working in a diverse society (Crosling, Edwards & Schroder, 2008). For example, Dibben (2004) explores the influence of socio-economic background on students’ experiences of studying music.A small number of students felt that they did not fit into the department, and believed the curriculum was ‘too traditional’ (as it focused on classical music). In relation to working class mature students Bamber & Tett (2001) recommend that relevant course material is used. Similarly, Haggis & Pouget (2002) suggest that to support first generation entrants, links need to be made between the curriculum and students’ own experiences and views of the world. Houghton & Ali (2000) explore the development and delivery of a culturally relevant curriculum with Asian women, and encourage students to offer feedback about their educational provision to assist future development of the curriculum. The curriculum can also be relevant to students’ future aspirations – to help build institutional commitment (Berger & Braxton, 1998) by reinforcing how successful completion of the course will lead to, for example, a chosen career area. Blackwell et al. (2001) argue that the higher education curriculum should offer students the opportunity to reflect on employment and other experiences to explore the learning and skills development that is involved in these activities. Barrie (2005) similarly argues that the undergraduate curriculum from the first year onwards should assist students to develop ‘graduate attributes’, which, amongst other things, will assist them in future employment, and life more generally.The need for learning and teaching to develop personal, social and employability skills is supported by empirical research with 400 stuvol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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dents at the start of their course and following graduation (Glover et al., 2002). Glover et al. argue that the extension of partnerships between higher education and employers are essential to improve the employability of graduates. Purcell et al. (2002) suggest that work placements offer both students and employers opportunities: students gain valuable skills and demonstrable competencies and employers are able to recruit graduates from a wider pool. In addition, students are increasingly engaged in part-time employment, and so this offers a way to capitalise on this experience, and better prepare students for graduation (not just in terms of employment but more generally). Thus, part of the learning experience should prepare students for graduation in the broadest sense and should contribute to the validity and authenticity of the curriculum for all students. Student-centred active learning There is a consensus that interactive as opposed to didactic teaching improves academic success and promotes the inclusion of learners who might feel like outsiders (Crosling,As-Saber & Rahman, 2008;Parker et al., 2005; Haggis & Pouget, 2002;Thomas, 2002; Bamber & Tett, 2001). Student-centred learning conceives of students as playing a more active role in their learning processes. Active learning is often associated with experiential, problem-based and project-based learning, and other forms of collaborative learning, and less reliance on the large lecture format. Kolb’s (Kolb, 1984) work on the theoretical foundations of experiential learning can be seen to underlie all of these approaches to learning (Tight, 2002, p.106). Broadly, experiential learning relates to the knowledge and skills gained through life and work experience, but different interpretations have extended the notion of experiential learning to ‘meaningful discovery’ learning (Boydell, 1976). This has given rise to approaches such as problem-based and project-based learning, which are educational approaches that make use of the learning strategies suggested by the theories of experiential learning within the classroom context. These forms of teaching promote collaboration among students to solve problems, and by using realistic problems or situations for learning, a deeper understanding of the relationship between theory and practice can be developed and understood by students (Tight, 2002, p. 108). The benefits of student-centred learning that includes greater staff-student and peer interaction can Improving student retention in higher education, Crosling et al.

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be understood in relation to the social and emotional dimension of learning. This engagement influences students’ sense of belonging and their motivation and achievement (Thomas, 2002; Askham, 2004; Košir & Pecjak, 2005). Pedagogies that involve students as active learners, rather than as recipients of knowledge, show respect for students’ views and experiences, and therefore diversity and difference is less likely to be problematised and more likely to be valued within a transformative model of higher education (Bamber et al., 1997; Jones and Thomas, 2005).Tinto found that students benefited from and enjoyed being part of ‘learning communities’, which forged interaction between students to facilitate their learning both inside the classroom and beyond (Tinto, 1998, 2000). Similarly Warren (2003) reviews existing literature and finds that student-centred, discussion-based and groupbased learning activities promote: • Enhanced student participation and interaction. • More willingness by students to express their ideas. • Improved communication among students in culturally diverse classes. • Better adjustment to university study (for international and UK students). • A shift towards deep learning as a space is created for learners to test out new concepts. • Increased motivation, quality of discussion and level of analysis (from Warren, 2003, p. 3). Student-centred interactive learning does not only have to occur in small groups, but methods can be developed and utilised to teach large classes too. Warren (2003) identifies different methods that have been employed with large groups of students: • Collaborative learning groups (3–5 students) working on tasks during lecture periods. • Group presentations and interactive lectures featuring discussion of concepts and application to practical exercises. • Teaching via sessions that combine exposition and work on tasks in medium-sized groups (about 20 students), instead of whole class lectures. • Resource-based learning in project study groups (6–10 students), culminating in a set of class debates to exchange knowledge gained. (From Warren, 2003, p. 4) It is the development and utilisation of such learning and teaching strategies that promote a more active, student-centred approach to learning, which draws on students’ previous experiences and interests, that helps to enhance student engagement, course commit-

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ment and retention on the programme. ICT can offer teaching staff new ways to develop problem-based and project-base learning activities. Integration of study skills There are different models of providing study skills and academic support. Warren (2002) identifies three ways of providing academic support: separate, semiintegrated and integrated curriculum models, and similarly Earwaker (1993) identifies traditional pastoral, professional and an integrated curriculum model as ways of providing both academic and pastoral support. Research on widening participation points towards the value of integrated models, particularly of academic support, with the provision of one-to-one support (Bamber & Tett, 2001; Comfort et al., 2002) and access to additional support as required (Comfort et al., 2002). Similarly,Warren argues that a mix of semi-integrated and integrated models of curriculum provision offers better prospects for helping a wide spectrum of students to succeed at university. Integrated approaches are favoured as research shows that many students who would benefit from academic and other support services are reluctant to put themselves forward (Dodgson and Bolam, 2002), therefore a proactive or integrated approach helps to reach all students. Layer et al. (2002) found that many higher education institutions with a commitment to wider access and above benchmark levels of retention have one-stop-shop student services. This type of provision not only makes it easier for students to access academic and pastoral services, but it also encourages students to use the facilities by including services that all students may need to access and which are not stigmatising (e.g. accommodation office, sport and recreation, registry etc.) (see Thomas et al., 2002a). Formative assessment Many students struggle to make the transition from a more structured learning experience in schools and colleges to the greater autonomy in higher education. Pedagogical research, especially with non-traditional students, reports that formative assessment offers an integrated and structured approach to equipping all students with the information and skills they need to make a successful transition into higher education and to continue to succeed academically. For example, George et al. (2004) found that the nature of assessment used was significant to students’ experience and vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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represented groups (Yorke in Ferrier and Heagney (eds) engagement with the course. They suggest that the 2008). For many of these students, time constraints incorporation of both summative and formative assessmean the classroom is the only element of university ment helps to build confidence, a positive attitude life they experience. In Australia this is particularly so towards learning and successful engagement with for the large number of students with work and family the cognitive demands of the programme. Similarly, responsibilities. A 2001 national study revealed that Bamber & Tett (1999) found that non-traditional stuapproximately 70 per cent of full time students worked dents, and particularly mature learners, benefited from nearly 15 hours per week (Long and Hayden, 2001). formative feedback. For example, formative assessment Consequently, it is in the classroom that the opportucan offer students: nity to engage students is either made or lost. • Space to explore, try out different approaches and develop their own ideas. Teachers – know your students • An opportunity to become aware of their own This seems an obvious dictum but it is not always easy progress and find out about themselves as learners. to achieve when much university teaching takes place • An opportunity to negotiate with tutors and/or in large lecture theatres. Whilst it is widely accepted peers on matters of assessment including the allocathat teachers can no longer assume all students have tion of marks (Povey & Angier, 2004). the same background knowledge, it is very difficult to Formative feedback is integrated into the learning structure classroom learning to incorporate the interexperience, and so does not detract from disciplineests and experience of all students when teachers focused teaching and it reaches all students, not just don’t know their students. However, imaginative use those who have the knowledge and confidence to seek of curriculum can go a long way to meeting this need. support. Furthermore, formative feedback provides For instance a lecturer at Monash Malaysia wished to a vehicle for interaction between students and staff, develop the cultural understandings of his engineering thus helping to develop student familiarity and confistudents who came from many different backgrounds. dence to approach staff for additional clarification and He also wished to provide guidance if necessary. Feeda setting in which they back information can also ... the development and utilisation of could improve their confibe used by staff to realign ... learning and teaching strategies that dence in their English lantheir teaching in response promote a more active, student-centred guage and communication to learners’ needs. Formaapproach to learning, which draws on skills, both of which are tive feedback offers an students’ previous experiences and important for engineering integrated approach to prointerests, that helps to enhance student graduates once they enter viding students with clarity the work force. He organabout what is expected of engagement, course commitment and ised the students to work them, and a way of engagretention on the programme. together in small groups ing with peers and teaching and give presentations to staff to discuss academic the class on the cultural backgrounds of each of the issues in a safe environment so that they develop the members of their small teams. This gave them opporskills, understanding and integration they need to suctunities to make social connections while hearing ceed. Furthermore, formative assessment can be used about the diverse backgrounds of their classmates.The to promote an active approach to learning, as students students developed increased tolerance of each other are encouraged to reflect on the learning process, and a fuller understanding of cultural diversity as well rather than just the outcomes. as improved English language and presentation skills (Teoh, in Crosling, Thomas and Heagney (eds) 2008, Teaching and Learning and students from pp. 52–6). under-represented groups It can be argued that what goes on in the teaching and learning programme, that is the learning, teaching and assessment practices, play a even more important role in the retention and success of students from undervol. 51, no. 2, 2009

Programme organisation When teachers know something of the lived experience of their students, they can organise teaching programmes which facilitate the students’ maximum Improving student retention in higher education, Crosling et al.

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participation. Questions which teachers can ask of themselves to effect this outcome include: • Do you know which students have family responsibilities and which students have work responsibilities? • Do you consider students work and family responsibilities when you schedule assignments and examinations? For example, are assignments and class tests due at the end of the school holidays when students who are parents have their school aged children at home with them? • Do you arrange for all assignments to be completed at the same time assuming that students have all day and part of the night to do them? • Do you organise guest lectures at times that suit students with work and family commitments? Same classroom – different cultures At another level, classrooms and lecture theatres provide teachers with opportunities to model inclusivity by eliminating local jargon from their speech, using global events to illustrate their points rather than references to the local football team or pub. In many cases a student’s appearance can alert teachers to the fact that they need to employ these broader approaches to their teaching. But there are many students from diverse backgrounds whose appearance does not prompt teachers to make their teaching more inclusive. Other cultural issues The classroom provides lecturers with opportunities to link into students’ values such as the value of work, struggle, persistence, and resilience. Some students who are first in their family to access higher education also have overcome barriers such as poverty, poor primary and secondary education experiences to get into university. Many have extraordinary persistence and resilience which, if acknowledged by their teachers, can assist in engaging them in their studies. Similarly refugee students from war-torn countries may have exhibited great courage in re-locating to a new country. How often are their experiences outside the classroom acknowledged? Practical issues There are very practical strategies lecturers can employ in the classroom to assist students, particularly those from under-represented groups, to succeed and persist at university. By talking about student support services in their first lectures for the year, teachers can play an important role in linking students to relevant

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supports such as counselling, disability services and career advice. While equity group students tend to need and use support services more than non-equity group students, they often lack the confidence to go and seek them out for themselves

Conclusion Quality assurance and accountability are integral to higher education in Australia and globally. One significant indicator of this is the retention of students in their studies. In this article, we point out that the collection of statistical data alone is limited in its impact on educational quality improvement, which is implicit in quality assurance objectives. One way to improve quality in regard to student retention is to identify influences and causes of student retention and attrition. Engaging students in their studies has been identified as important in retaining students and stemming attrition. Institutions have also shared responsibility to facilitate student engagement. Various teaching and learning approaches to encourage students to engage with their studies and their institution have been surveyed in this article and include: • Early engagement through pre- and post-entry induction activities. • Greater understanding of the diversity of students, including where they have come from, what they are interested in and their aspirations. This in turn can inform the organisation of the programme and curricular contents. • Authentic and relevant curricula, building on students’ previous experiences, interests and future aspirations, and using inclusive language and relevant examples. • Student-centred active learning designed to involve students in the learning process. • Integration of study skills to support the success of all students, and signing posting students to access other support services as necessary. • Formative feedback which is relevant and integrated into the learning experience in a timely and constructive way. There are many reasons why students leave higher education early, some of which may not be wholly negative, but there are usually financial implications for withdrawing students and there may be other personal consequences. Similarly, there are pecuniary and reputational implications for institutions. Some reasons why students leave are beyond the control of vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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institutions, but the organisation and delivery of the curriculum is an area over which universities and colleges have significant autonomy. Addressing student retention via learning, teaching and curricular developments has the advantage of meeting the needs of all students – not just those either identified as at risk, or who proactively seek additional support. In the context of equality and diversity legislation, the requirement for institutions in the UK is to proactively make anticipatory changes, which promote the success of all students. In Australia, the mandate is for specialised provision but not necessarily anticipatory and higher education institutions provide tailored support for under-represented/disadvantaged groups of students. Both of these approaches help to shift the institutional response away from a deficit approach by implementing practices which assist all students to improve and prosper – irrespective of their starting position. Glenda Crosling is Director of Education Quality & Innovation, Monash University, Malaysia. Margaret Heagney is Coordinator of the Student Equity Unit, Monash University, Victoria, Australia. Liz Thomas is Director of the Widening Participation Research Centre, Edge Hill University, UK.

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Student/Worker/Carer The intersecting priorities of Arts students

JaneMaree Maher, Jennifer Mitchell & Kate Brown Monash University

This article reports on a focus group study of student experience and learning in a large humanities and social science faculty in Australia. The study explored student study/work/life issues, and student learning experiences. The article reports specifically on a discussion about combining meaningful learning in university classrooms with other life aspirations. Students revealed considerable capacity to integrate competing life demands. While students described instrumental practices and pragmatic approaches to reading and assessment demands, their comments revealed a desire for deeper learning.

Background Recent debates in the higher education sector in Australia have focused on key issues affecting student experience, including staff-student ratios, resources available to the sector and equitable access for all students (ACOSS 2003; Edwards 2007). Of equal concern has been how student patterns of employment are reshaping university experiences for both student learners and academic teachers. There has been recognition in Australian higher education, as elsewhere, that traditional patterns of student engagement are being changed by student debt and student employment. As McInnis (2004) argues, there is a pattern of change, consistent across the Western world, requiring new frameworks for student learning: Many of the assumptions about students that underpin earlier studies are no longer sustainable …. The mix of ‘learner- earners’ and ‘earner-learners’ is shifting in many countries. A reappraisal of just where university fits in the lives of many students is needed (McInnis 2004, p. 383). Concern about these changes in student cohorts has often centred on students’ capacity to complete vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

studies effectively and fully engage with learning while negotiating other demands. Previous research from the United States, Canada and Australia has found that employment has a negative effect (Curtis 2002), but this is not a simple equation (Bradley 2006) with many students relying on paid work as well as study to facilitate future employment. As McInnis and Hartley note (2002), the diversity of student employment patterns makes the development of effective teaching and administrative practices a challenge for universities. This article seeks to contribute to existing knowledge about student expectations and experiences, illuminate some aspects of student study/work/life balance and add qualitative insights to existing student satisfaction data. The research project from which these findings emerged was focused on key challenges for undergraduate students in successfully completing their studies in a faculty of humanities and social sciences. Anecdotal evidence and the profile of students before the Academic Progress Committee each year suggested that many students were struggling with commitments to paid work, family responsibilities and other life issues. These insights were not grounded in concrete data on

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were made in some lectures. In addition, bulk emails were sent to groups of students outlining the study. Students were invited to express interest by contacting a researcher. Details of the study were generally forwarded with an explanatory statement. Some students were encouraged by friends to attend; all participants were provided with hard copy explanatory statements in the focus group setting. In addition, students filled in a brief questionnaire providing data on age, enrolment, hours of study and employment, living situation and Methodology equity-related information. The students who participated ranged in age from 18 The setting for this 2007 project was the Faculty of Arts to 60 years of age, with 28 participants aged between at Monash University, one of the largest humanities and 18 and 24 years.The majority of students were enrolled social science faculties in Australia. The objectives of full time, with eight of the students enrolled part time. the study were to develop a better understanding of Many of the students self-identified as coming from the specific challenges students face in completing the University’s designated their studies successfully; equity groups: 20 indicated to provide insights that Most [students] expressed willingness and they were the first in their might assist in the develability to juggle complex and competing family to attend university; opment of new resources priorities and an understanding of learning three identified as students to support students where beyond the consumer model sometimes from rural or isolated areas applicable and to provide understood to govern student relationships in Australia; four identified information that might with universities as students experiencing improve the targeting of long-term family difficulties; existing study support nine identified as students resources. The findings who had been absent from the education system for were intended to support the Faculty’s commitment a significant period of time; two identified as students to pastoral care for students and to inform Faculty with a disability, and seven identified as students from responses to the perceived increasing study-life presNon-English Speaking Backgrounds. No students who sure for students. In addition, the project had the aim identified as Indigenous Australians participated in the of contributing to knowledge in higher education on study. Students were able to indicate as many equity student experience and student learning. categories as they wished. Focus groups were chosen as a method for data colApproximately half were single and half were partlection because they offered the opportunity to idennered. Fourteen of the participants had direct caring tify substantive issues and gain in-depth insights while responsibilities (ranging from one to five children), encompassing the views of a larger sample of students although others reported significant care activities. All than individual interviews would have allowed. Hamel participants were asked to fill in a short form outlin(2001) suggests that focus groups allow for ‘open dising their hours of work, living arrangements and care cussion of topics under considerations and [the proresponsibilities. The following schedule of questions duction of] an immediate analysis by collating the was asked in focus groups: viewpoints of the participants’ (2001, p. 242). Ethical • Could you please tell us what the key issues are for approval was obtained from the university ethics comyou in managing your study requirements? mittee and informed consent was sought and obtained • What impact does paid work have on how you from each focus group participant. Twelve focus manage study? groups were conducted in all, with 48 students partici• What aspects of family life have the most impact on pating from the metropolitan and regional campuses how you manage study? of the University. • What times are most stressful for you in the semester? Focus group participants were recruited using a • What strategies have you found useful in managing number of methods. Posters were put in relevant your different obligations? public areas around the university and announcements students’ expectations of their study load. Nor were they grounded on the combined effect of paid work, family responsibilities and study load on students, nor on what supports would be most effective in assisting students to complete study requirements optimally while balancing other life commitments. This study’s focus was to provide some direct data on these issues to inform Faculty of Arts policy.

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• Have you any suggestions about how the Faculty could support you better? Each focus group session was taped and fully transcribed. Initially the transcripts were read and a table of key matters raised by students was developed. From this, the key matters raised by students were clustered under four key themes. These were: expectations and assumptions; academic resources and assessment; multiple priorities; and families and care. Transcripts were then re-read by the research team and coded according to these themes. This method was adopted after Cameron (2001), where the participants’ responses were used as the basis for the interpretative categories.

Findings In this article, we have focused on the intersection of studies, paid employment and social life as students described it. We were particularly interested in how students balanced the competing demands they face. We found that students did experience conflicts caused by competing priorities of employment, care and study. We found that students felt confused by some aspects of learning and studying. But these students managed these competing pressures effectively, with only five indicating they felt they were not coping with university life. Most expressed willingness and ability to juggle complex and competing priorities and an understanding of learning beyond the consumer model sometimes understood to govern student relationships with universities (see James 2001, McInnis 2004 for further discussion). In the following sections, we report on the four themes we identified from the focus groups. In each section, we have used student quotations to support and represent the main elements of our findings.

Expectations and assumptions Our study revealed a number of important gaps between students’ expectations of university life and study and the realities they found. Initially, students struggled to identify what was expected of them in this new environment and what sort of support was available. In my first year here, which would have been my second year doing subjects, [I felt] … ‘well I’m kind of here in this big place but I’m not connected to it – I kind of come here and go to the lectures and I go home and I do my assessment tasks and I submit them and they come back’. But in those early stages vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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I [didn’t have] … not an enormous amount of support or feedback and I would actually say that that is the most important thing as a student; to know if you’re on the right track. This was often more pronounced for students who came from schools where university entrance was not expected. In high school I was never taught much about what uni life was going to be like probably because they didn’t expect any of us to end up there. … I … jumped from high school where you didn’t really have so much expectation and pressure on you, to the uni life where it’s completely different and I never got really any training on how to manage time or anything. There has been significant attention to transition to university life (Hillman, 2005; Krause et al., 2005; Turnbull et al., 2006), with many universities developing new approaches to assist students in settling into university life. But the students who participated in this study came from all year levels and their responses indicated that the need for guidance continues well beyond the first year transition. With honours it would be good if there was a bit more guidance. … I have my supervisor and I have my coursework subject but I still feel… writing a thesis is a very different format to what I am used to, writing a 2,500 word essay and you’re getting the coursework essay [at] 6,000 [words]. I am not used to writing something that long… I would like a bit more guidance about how to actually go about writing it. Students did reveal willingness to seek help with thirty of the students seeking assistance at some time from university services such as language and learning support (see Clegg et al. 2006 for further discussion of help seeking behaviour), but they stressed the need for on-going input to manage university demands and expectations. The uncertainty extended beyond the structures of university life to the demands of study. Students expressed surprise at the reading demands of Arts units and also some confusion about how ‘hard and fast’ these requirements were. And I find the biggest challenge is getting through adequate enough reading, because I find there’s … copious amounts of reading, I think that’s the biggest challenge, is keeping up with the reading. Not so much the workload, but the reading so that you’ve got a good understanding and not just a basic understanding of what’s going on.

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I find you can generally keep up with all the readings as long as you only read the prescribed text or the study guide, not the ones that they list as essential reading; they’ve got six to 12 other books and you have to read a chapter from all them. I think that’s crazy, to read that amount of literature if you’re not going to use it in an assignment or anything is, I think, a total waste of time because it goes in one ear and out the other basically. They identified implicit conventions about reading load which shaped their study habits, even though 32 of these students felt they should commit more time to study than they currently were. We were talking about it the other day in a focus group. Sometimes with many lecturers or tutorials there is this unspoken agreement that ‘we know that some of you are [doing the reading] and we also know that a lot of you aren’t for whatever reason and we won’t even talk about it” (our emphasis). Turnbull et al. (2006) found that first year students experienced significant degrees of confusion about workloads, drafts and the return of work, but students at all year levels in our study revealed that there was confusion and conflicting assumptions about these issues. This was particularly apparent when students talked about assessment. With the big essay that I’ve got to do, it’s just seems that it’s been assumed that we all know how to write a first year university essay. … It’s just daunting because … we just weren’t given verbal instruction. They just said ‘There’s all these resources, just go and check it all out.’ So there are pages and pages of information on how to write this specific psychology essay. In every single subject [it] was all ‘Okay, you have to get the referencing right because if you don’t get it right you can get kicked out of Monash. It’s plagiarism’. You just kind of sit there and go, ‘Oh crap’, but then I downloaded the referencing bit of the key manual to get the style of referencing and it was still wrong. Then they wouldn’t actually tell me what was wrong with my referencing. Overall, students indicated that they often struggled to maintain a clear sense of what was required to succeed in university life.

Academic resources and assessment James (2001) describes a perception that contemporary students are demanding teaching that feeds directly into concrete outcomes; that they are focused on ‘narrowly reproductive approaches to assessment’

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(James 2001, p. 2). Yet, the students who participated revealed relatively sophisticated understandings of the different tasks that were involved in effective learning. Study skills classes, for example, while ‘boring’, were recognised as useful. Last year, we actually had compulsory library lessons so you would go in there and you would learn how to use the university library because obviously most of us are coming straight out of high school, you had no idea and it was a completely different system. And we found that, as boring as it was, the first time you went up there by yourself you knew exactly what to do, you knew where to find things. I mean, they always offer like essay writing classes and things like that but I [would like] actual time management classes and make it compulsory for every first year. I mean, it probably would have saved me heaps of trouble if I’d learned that. End of term assessments provoked the expected reactions around conflicting deadlines, but there was significant insight into why these conflicts were necessary. Students understood that Arts units would always require larger assessments close to end of semester because knowledge has to be built. Even though it might be easy to have things earlier, I would still say that from a learning perspective I wouldn’t be ready to do it much earlier anyway. So it’s going to be a constant clash that you have to build up your learning before you actually do too many large assessment tasks. It … makes sense because you’ve got to get somewhere into the subject to be able to do the subject. Then again you don’t expect to get three essays at the same time and you really want to go through them one by one. This recognition didn’t avoid the frustration generated by clashing deadlines. It’s frustrating though when all the assignments come within a week, a week, a week of each other, all the due dates. I mean it’s unfair for us to say to the lecturers ‘Well, why can’t you all work it out together?’ but … I think the most difficult time this semester is in the last, in the second half because in the first half you might have 1 assignment and in some subjects you hardly get anything. Then in the second half it all gets blocked together and you’re overloaded with all this stuff plus trying to study for exams as well. I find balancing little projects with big projects tricky because I’ve got one massive essay and then I’ve got a whole heap of little things that keep

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coming up. And so I focus on the little things and the essay just doesn’t get started, and I just don’t know how you balance the big and the little stuff. There was recognition of the different learning outcomes of larger more independent pieces of assessment and smaller more targeted assessments. I think in first year it is quite good to get an overview but in the later years it is much more satisfying to me to do [big projects]. One of my subjects now is a double point and it is just one project for the whole semester and I just love it. I can really sink my teeth into it. Students reflected on the ways in which their time schedules shaped their learning experiences. The fragmented time schedules necessitated by study schedules, work and other life pressures led some to prefer the last minute attack on a piece of assessment. They saw this as a good way to generate coherent insights about a topic. Personally I [like] doing it on one day. I know it sounds stupid but I find it easier to get it done in one block as opposed to a few weeks. You’re less motivated to go back to it. Your train of thought [is affected] as well; you may have a good idea and you got to leave it and come back and then you can’t remember it. It’s not doing you any favours either by leaving it late but sometimes it’s the only way to get it done. This issue of conflicting schedules and tight timelines had particular impacts when group assignments, which are vital to learning and developing teamwork skills, were part of the assessment.They presented real time management problems, due to the number of schedules that needed to be accommodated.

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tant thing?’ Get rid of the rubbish.There’s so much.You could go and read for a million years and never find out what they are actually asking you. To me, it is the most important thing every week; … what is the core of what they’re trying to say to us every week?

Many priorities As expected, students revealed multiple life priorities. Study and academic success were important, but many other activities were vital too. Financial pressures were a significant aspect of participation in university life for all students, which meant they showed strong commitment to paid work. Only six of this student cohort had no paid work.Twenty six students worked more than 15 hours each week with sixteen working more than 20 hours.For most students, the dual commitments to work and study couldn’t easily be separated. Paid work was vital to supporting study. The level of debt students were incurring was a big factor in this equation. Overall, it has been found that Australian undergraduate students are facing increased financial pressure in recent years (Long & Hayden, 2000; James et al., 2007). This was a critical part of student decision-making around work and was reflected in tensions around the cost of study and time for work. I can only work 20 hours per week so finding a way to earn enough money to support myself, come up with my tuition fees and have good grades at the same time [is hard] but I have been able to do it. So it’s hard to prioritise things because if someone calls you up and goes ‘listen I’m sick’ or ‘I’ve got something on, can you do this shift for me?’, you just think that it’s extra money. So you go and do it.

If there’s a group assignment, time management is really hard. Even today I’ve got a group assignment due today and I’m having problems with one person in the group because she was away. Then she was sick and she only told us yesterday so we have to do everything today. I reckon group assignments can be really draining and hard.

Students described strong commitment to achieving degrees but they viewed their employment as critical to completing study, so employers’ expectations played an important role in their decisions. Fourteen students reported pressure from employers to do more paid work, but many others talked of feeling responsible to employers and in their jobs.

These findings reveal these students have considerable insight into different forms of knowledge acquisition. They make some conscious decisions about how to maximise their own learning outcomes with the time available. I think that one of the most important things to do as far as study goes is to get rid of the periphery, get rid of the rubbish. … Every week ask ‘what is it that they’re trying to say to you? What is the most impor-

You’ve got responsibilities too because if you’re working you’re responsible to your boss, you’ve got to show up for them. … If you’re studying, you’re only responsible to yourself and the money that you’ve put into your course which you might not think about after you’ve signed your HECS debt or whatever.

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Most part-time employers are going to want you for 25 hours a week and that’s … a minimum really.

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You sign a contract and you say you’re going to put work ahead of everything, like your other commitments … and so when you say, ‘No, I’m going to be more committed to my school work’, [you] feel guilty because it’s not what [you] agreed to.

whole journey of study. And I think that hinders the process of study. … My perception is that it is about the whole journey of study not the end except the end – the degree is not relevant if you haven’t learnt.

Some students were pursuing study whilst working as part of their professional development, which intensified negotiation of these intersecting commitments.

I think that what has helped me the most at Uni even more than what I have learnt from my degree has been … the life skills I’ve learnt…, the juggling I’ve gone through. And that has [made me] actually grow a lot more than my degree itself.

I do about 10 to 15 hours paid work a week but I also do work for music groups … that’s unpaid at the moment and that takes up another four or five hours a week. I tend to find because I’ve got responsibilities to other people, I put that first over doing my assignments and I’ll leave that to the last minute. My past two or three essays, the due dates have been one week after another and I’ll finish one and then I’ll start the next one the week beforehand. It’s … putting work first because I’ve got direct responsibilities that I get paid for.

These students are negotiating complex life demands in the management and balancing of finances, paid work and study. This is common across the sector in Australia (McInnis & Hartley 2002). While James (2001) suggests that many university staff feel pessimistic about changing student expectations, based on perceptions of divided focus and instrumentalist approaches to learning, these students revealed significant commitment to learning and to study that was not For students required to undertake placements, the simply driven by concerns of employability. additional financial pressures were extremely difficult They balanced this comto negotiate. The loss of pay mitment with a sense of consequent upon extended The sophistication these students were responsibility to their periods of absence from able to bring to thinking about their employers and their work employment meant that learning suggested that higher education as well. Rather than expemany students really struginstitutions and academic staff within them riencing their paid work gled to complete degree might well take the risk of talking more as a conflicting requirerequirements Despite the fully about learning and the experiences of ment (although they importance of paid work, clearly acknowledged students showed significant learning with their students... the conflicts in managing commitment to study, even both commitments simulwhen they knew they could taneously), it is possible to argue these students saw experience disadvantage as a result. paid work and study as mutually reinforcing activities, Actually I had to turn around and ring them up and focused on longer term life outcomes. say, ‘Sorry, it’s not going to happen today. I know we’re on deadline and I’m sorry. My commitment is to my school work and I’m going to have to give Families and care this away’. Unfortunately, it’s another reason I think they’ve gone and turned around and hired someFamily responsibilities played a significant role not one else altogether, so it’s just one of those things. only for students who were primary carers but for Although focused on the financial pressures of all students. While thirty six of the students indicated attending university, students revealed considerable they had no direct dependants, thirty three of these commitment to learning as a journey as well as a students lived with their parents or in a shared house means to an end. In this sense, students struggle with and had care responsibilities in this context. All stuthe same conflicts and challenges as academic staff dents described an on-going negotiation between seeking pedagogy that is transformative while negotirelationships with families and other key priorities of ating more immediate goals and constraints. work and study as part of their daily life. I don’t think this is a Monash thing… it’s really a western philosophy thing but I find that university is very goal orientated and it tends to emphasise what is coming at the end rather than the

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I have to take my sister to school every morning, so it’s a 7.30 start for me whether I like it or not. So I get up, take my sister to school and then it’s either off to uni or off to work, whatever it is. I try

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to kill two birds with one stone [and] … so I go to a friend’s house and study. … I’ll study in the dining room and they can study up on the roof and that, to me, is socialising. I get landed with the responsibilities; if someone has to stay at home with my little sister, it’s usually me. And I end up doing a lot of the chores around the home because mum’s working longer hours now, and she’s taken to catching the train to work so that gets a bit complicated. She’s stressing and trying to juggle finances. With my family, it’s a bit of a guilt trip type thing. They live a couple of hours away and so I’m expected to go home and see them on weekends and it’s a few hours drive and I can’t do anything over the weekend and I can’t study or anything and if I haven’t seen them for a few weekends so I go home… It’s … hard to juggle staying here and needing to stay here and them wanting to see me and wanting to go home. For me the obvious one is the fact that I have kids, I have a house, I have a husband. All of those things: having to have someone take care of the kids, the cost of child care and all of that everyone knows about. They are the really big ones. Of course, families were identified as key supports for students. Leading up to exams, I am really anxious about not having enough time to study. I feel okay about all the other assessments that I’ve done but this leading up to the exam period I would love to be able to take some time off work but it’s not going to be possible. [Then] my husband kick[s] in and say[s]; ‘if you want a couple of days away from the kids I’ll take off work so that you can go off and study’.

Conclusions Analysis of contemporary student intakes, patterns of study and tertiary pathways in Australia reveal that previous expectations about school-university-work transitions no longer provide useful maps for university student experience. The ratio of direct entry students has changed (Clerehan 2002; McInnis, 2004), combinations of study and paid work have changed (Bradley 2006), and students manage a range of potentially conflicting pressures on time and other resources. In this study, hypotheses about complex patterns of study, work and care were certainly confirmed; students were managing many competing priorities as they participate in university life. vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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Yet as James (2001) argues, ‘students’ preferences, expectations and needs have always been intricately interwoven’ (2001, p. 9) in university life and experience, and these changes need not be understood as diminishing the learning compact between academic staff and students, or changing the teaching exchange in negative ways. Roettger et al. (2007) argue that student needs should drive the learning experience. Massingham and Herrington (2006) explore declining attendance at university classes and suggest that movement towards a collaborative learning relationship may reinvigorate attendance and benefit graduates by further deepening their learning. These students revealed strong commitment to, and demonstrated insight into, forms of learning beyond the narrow outcomes of a degree and marketability.They were able to engage with multiple financial, social and employment obligations as they completed their studies; and to see paid work as a necessary integrated aspect of continuing their studies rather than in opposition to study or as a distraction from it. They demonstrated very good understanding of the pressures on academic staff and focused more on communication of expectations than on criticizing academic staff. While approaching many aspects of their study/work/life juggle pragmatically, students revealed a desire for deep learning, recognising the other insights and skills that are provided by an intense immersion in one specific topic or activity. Clegg et al. suggest that ‘we should value the resourcefulness of students in coping with the demands on them’ (2006, p. 102). McInnis (2004) suggests that we may need to imagine student life more creatively in order to respond to the needs of contemporary students. Academics and administrative staff face considerable challenges due to new and intensifying productivity expectations, and new forms of accountability and reporting. These factors shape institutions, curricula and classroom interactions for students and staff. These students faced a similar landscape of competing responsibilities and commitments. Yet, the desire for meaningful learning experiences was central to the choices these students made. The sophistication these students were able to bring to thinking about their learning suggested that higher education institutions and academic staff within them might well take the risk of talking more fully about learning and the experiences of learning with their students, of communicating much more explicitly rationales for learning activities, and the limitations inherent in any learning environment.

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JaneMaree Maher is a senior lecturer in the School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University, Victoria, Australia.

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Hamel, J 2001, ‘The focus group method and contemporary French sociology’, Journal of Sociology 37(4), pp.341-353. Hillman, K 2005, The first year experience: the transition from secondary school to university and TAFE in Australia. Longitudinal Studies in Australian Youth, Research Report 40. Camberwell, Victoria: ACER.

Kate Brown is Transition, Equity & Special Needs Academic Advisor, Faculty of Arts, Monash University, Victoria, Australia.

James, R, Bexley, E, Devlin, M & Marginson, S 2007, Australian university student finances 2006: A summary of findings from a national survey of students in public universities. Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne: Melbourne.

Jennifer Mitchell is a lecturer in literature at Trinity College, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

James, R 2001, ‘Students’ changing expectation of higher education and the consequences of mismatches with the reality’, Paper for the OECD-IMHE conference Management responses to changing student expectation QUT. <http:// www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/people/staff_pages/James/James-OECD_IMHE.pdf>

References ACOSS (Australian Council of Social Service) 2003, Barriers to university participation: ACOSS submission to the Senate Inquiry into higher education. ACOSS: Canberra. Retrieved 20 March, 2007, from <http://www.acoss.org.au/ upload/publications/submissions/325__info_350%20student%20inquiry.pdf> Bradley, G 2006, ‘Work participation and academic performance: a test of alternative propositions’, Journal of Education and Work 19(5), pp. 481-501. Cameron, D 2001, Working with Spoken Discourse. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Clegg, S, Bradley, S & Smith, K 2006, ‘I’ve had to swallow my pride’: help seeking and self-esteem’, Higher Education Research & Development, 25(2), pp. 101–113. Clerehan, R 2002, ‘Transition to tertiary education in the arts and humanities: Some academic initiatives from Australia’, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 2(1), pp. 72-89. Curtis, S 2002, ‘The effect of taking paid employment during term time on students’ academic studies’, Journal of Further and Higher Education 26(2), pp. 129-138. Edwards, D 2007, ‘The rising competition for university in Melbourne and its impact on disadvantaged students’, Presentation to the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Unpublished paper.

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Krause, K L, Hartley, R, James, R & McInnes, C 2005, The first year experience in Australian universities. Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne, DEST: Canberra. Long, M & Hayden, M 2001, Paying their way: A survey of Australian undergraduate university student finances. Canberra: Australian Vice Chancellors Commission. McInnis, C & Hartley, R 2002, Managing work and study: The impact of fulltime study and paid work on the undergraduate experience in Australian universities. Evaluations and Investigations Program, Canberra: DEST. McInnis, C 2004, ‘Studies of student life: an overview’. European Journal of Education, 39(4), pp. 383-394. Massingham, P & Herrington, T 2006, ‘Does Attendance Matter?: An Examination of Student Attitudes, Participation, Performance and Attendance’, Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice 3(2), pp. 82-103. Roettger, C, Roettger, L & Walugembe, F 2007, ‘Teaching: More than just Lecturing’, Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice 4(2), pp. 119-133. Turnbull, D, Nettlebeck, T, Ward, L, LeCoutuer, A, Sarris, A, Strehlan, P, Crisp, G, Palmer, E & Schneider, L 2006, First year students’ expectations of university study. Adelaide: University of Adelaide. Retrieved 20 March, 2007, from <http:// www.adelaide.edu.au/clpd/resources/reports/FYexpectationsSurvey2006.pdf>

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The international student as student, migrant and victim Changing perceptions in a vexed area of public policy. Paul Rodan CQUniversity

From the inception of post-Colombo Plan international education in Australia, three broad research emphases have been evident: the student as student, as migrant and most recently, as victim. The victim role plays easily into preconceived notions, helping to sustain an exploiter and exploited framework in which deeper issues remain unaddressed. This article raises some such questions, especially the role of casual work, and makes the case for greater acknowledgement of the complexities in this contentious area of public policy.

Research into international education in Australia has followed several themes since the emergence of the post-Colombo Plan version in the late 1980s. This article explores the ways in which this research has helped develop perceptions of international students in Australia, first among the education community and over time, in the wider society following immigration controversies and a series of assaults. The growth in the industry has been extraordinary, with an annual export figure of $15.5 billion for 2008 (AEI, 2009), although the methodology for arriving at this quantum has been questioned in recent times (Healy, 2009). It is also worth pointing out that this is no longer a university-dominated phenomenon, with only 37 per cent of the 449,000 overseas students studying for a higher education qualification; a fast-growing Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector on 36 per cent; 17 per cent in English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS), with the remainder in schools and ‘other’ (DEEWR, 2009). As of 2008, there were 1,310 providers of education to vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

international students (TVET, 2009, p.11), which tends to place Australia’s thirty eight universities in some overall context. Outside the school sector, which attracts interest from those involved in teacher education, research has focussed on university issues, a natural consequence of the research role synonymous with that sector. One strand focuses on the international student as student, with work on plagiarism, culturally-linked learning patterns, internationalisation of the curriculum, intercultural communication and language issues. Discussion also addressed the ‘cultural deficit’ explanation for the challenges faced by international students (Chalmers & Volet, 1997; Ninnes,Aitchison & Kalos, 1999; Egege & Kutieleh, 2004; Hellsten & Prescott, 2004; Sawir, 2005; Leask, 2006). The notion of the student as ‘customer’ has been a recurring feature of the last two decades, perhaps more especially with the fee-paying species, both domestic and international. However, this phenomenon would appear to have generated more internal management

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documentation than scholarly literature (Owens & Loomes, 2007; Svensson & Wood, 2007). After the Federal Government’s decision to link immigration policy with international education, the associated issues of adequate language skills and international graduate employability became controversial and assumed a dominant role in the media’s treatment of the industry.This was perhaps inevitable, as the relevant questions sometimes spoke to ancient memories in Australia’s immigration history and lent themselves more easily to an occasional newspaper headline and story than did complicated matters of intercultural pedagogy, the latter rarely featuring on the talkback circuit. The pre-eminent academic figure in exploring the student as migrant issue was Bob Birrell, Director of Monash University’s Centre of Population and Urban Research.An economic nationalist floating in an ocean of globalism (at Monash and beyond), Birrell observed the impact of the Government’s 2001 decision to allow international graduates to seek permanent residency upon completion of their courses, without having to return home and then apply to immigrate. This fasttracking had ostensibly been introduced to help counter skills shortages in specific areas in the Australian labour market, notably (in the university provision context) information technology and accounting. By the middle of the decade, Birrell was effectively calling the exercise a failure, citing a poor employment record amongst international graduates, especially now in accounting, and pointing the finger at inadequate language skills which effectively made many graduates unemployable in a profession which places such a premium on high quality communication between professional and client (Birrell, 2006; Birrell & Healy, 2008a). Implicitly, earlier information technology graduates may have been less vulnerable in this regard, as communication skills were arguably less critical in a highly technical area. While Birrell was drawing attention to the shortcomings in government policy as he saw them, he also took on an advocacy role, pressing that the Australian Government should abandon this failed policy and instead fund more tertiary places for Australian students who could then fill the alleged skills shortages without any language or cultural adjustment problems (Birrell & Healy, 2008). It serves no purpose to deny that many international students were motivated by the desire to immigrate and had no intrinsic interest in the discipline in question. Even if they failed to secure employ-

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ment in a skill shortage area, they may still have viewed permanent residency driving a taxi in Melbourne as a preferable life to that which they left back home. In 2007, Birrell and colleagues turned their attention to the burgeoning VET sector, where changes in government policy had rendered it more convenient and economical for international students seeking permanent residency to enrol in sub-degree courses in skills shortage areas such as cooking and hairdressing. Once again, Birrell concluded that ‘only a minority... will actually enter the cooking and hairdressing occupations in Australia’ (Birrell, Healy & Kinnaird, 2007, p 30). One might also note the regulatory challenge as scores of ‘registered training organisations’ (RTOs) sprang up to service (and indeed create) the burgeoning demand, often beyond the oversight capacity of underresourced (mostly state) bureaucracies never designed to cope with such massive growth.Whereas all Australian universities are subject to at least a regular AUQA audit (with the findings on the public record), the postinitial registration regime with the hundreds of RTOs in Australia is much more uneven, with a crisis-audit often being the main tool of trade. The vicissitudes of federalism continue to plague this area with differing registration and reporting requirements (on top of a nationally agreed framework) between states and territories (TVET, 2009). To this point, research output had tended mostly to concentrate on the student’s academic life and related teaching and learning issues and on the immigrationeducation nexus, with some obvious overlap in areas such as language proficiency, especially whether the IELTS test for course entry was a legitimate tool for assessing competence at the point of exit. What emerged next, and has continued as the dominant issue in the sector to the time of writing has concerned the student outside the classroom, especially relating to the issue of student safety, both on and off campus. This development has been led by Monash University’s Chris Nyland, advancing the case that Australian providers have been derelict in areas of student safety and have instead engaged in denial and coverup (Nyland, 2009). Nyland has also been involved, with colleagues, in research into student social well being, social inclusiveness and potential exploitation in students’ roles as casual workers (Nyland et al., 2009). During 2008 and into 2009, Nyland acquired an enhanced media profile following a series of assaults on international students in Melbourne and Sydney and, more tragically, a murder in Hobart (Nyland, 2008).

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tion is necessary. In order to secure an international stuThe emergence of the student safety issue necesdent visa, applicants are required to provide evidence sarily injected new emotional heat into discussion of that they have at least the funds to cover return air international education in Australia. Stories of cowardly fares to Australia, course fees and (importantly) living assaults on innocent young people are inevitably more costs, which the Department of Immigration and Citigripping and visceral than Bob Birrell’s statistics or a zenship (DIAC,) currently nominates as $12,000 per seminar on intercultural pedagogy, and they served to year (DIAC, 2009). Students with spouse and dependmove international education from the specialist to ent children are required to produce evidence of addithe mainstream media in very short time. tional financial resources. While accusations of denial and cover-up may well In recognition (presumably) that living costs can be warranted in certain cases, the problem for this vary between locations and that some additional writer is the extent to which such emotive language income may be necessary or desirable, international can be employed to reinforce a stereotypical view of students are permitted to undertake part-time work, the international education sector, with mandatory but only to a maximum of twenty hours per week. ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’. In the earliest days of postThose working in excess of the maximum are liable for Colombo Plan international education, it was not unuvisa cancellation, but this can be a challenging area in sual for critics, especially at the progressive end of which to enforce complithe spectrum, to caricature ance. And, obviously, those foreign students as overThe emergence of the student safety breaching visa conditions indulged rich kids sent to issue necessarily injected new emotional are unlikely to lodge formal Australia by parents who heat into discussion of international complaints against exploithad probably made their education in Australia. Stories of cowardly ative employers. fortunes through corrupt assaults on innocent young people are DIAC stresses that the practices or worse. The inevitably more gripping and visceral than $12,000 should not be seen international student’s red Bob Birrell’s statistics or a seminar on as necessarily indicative Porsche in the car park was of the true cost of living, contrasted with the batintercultural pedagogy, and they served which raises the question tered brown Toyota into to move international education from the of what the figure reprewhich the exhausted lecspecialist to the mainstream media in very sents, especially given that turer crawled after a hard short time. it is not indexed and has day at the chalk face. remained unchanged since Inevitably, as interna2001. Leaving that aside, it seems reasonable to contional numbers grew, this parody was unsustainable, clude that a student who genuinely has access to the especially for anyone who spent more than ten minprescribed $12,000 and is able to secure twenty hours utes on the ground. Stories of incredible sacrifice by of casual work, should be able to get by. If this is not family to fund a son or (more rarely) a daughter were so, then potential students are being misled (Rodan, much more the norm than conspicuous consumption 2009a). They are also at risk of being misinformed, on by affluent students. Often, the conspicuous consumpliving costs and other relevant issues such as safety, by tion and international lifestyle of university leaders the uneven quality of Australian university web sites, made a more legitimate target for academic critics, and Some are very good, but others are incomplete at best the international student now assumed the status of and deceptive at worst (Rodan, 2009b). victim, with Nyland’s critique echoing student activThere is a growing acknowledgement that the ist views that institutions were treating them as ‘cash $12,000 requirement is being circumvented. It is cows’, taking their money but providing inadequate simply the case that many desperate applicants are value in teaching and or support services, and misleadable to provide ‘evidence’ of the funds at time of appliing them about certain realities of life and study in Auscation, but do not retain access once in Australia. The tralia (Nyland, 2008). production of bogus bank documents appears well One of those realities relates to a need for casual within the skills set of various agents (Hodge, 2009). work, but if students were as financially resourced as The Victorian Government taskforce on the overseas they should be, the need for such work should not be student experience (DIIRD, 2008), included in its excessive. In this context, some background informavol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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report a recommendation that the State Government should raise with Canberra ‘the need to ensure that the $12,000 living expenses required to get a visa is [sic] actually available to the student’. With or without the $12,000, for some students, the need for parttime work is related to the reality that ‘... once a visa is granted, students from poorer families come under pressure to return some of the money to their families and end up trying to fend for themselves’ (Trounson & Slattery, 2009). The proliferation in the number of CBD-based providers has accentuated the difficulty for many students to secure accommodation in reasonable proximity to the site of course delivery. Obviously, the excessive hours problem is a near-impossible issue to research empirically, since it would be an odd student who would admit to a breach of visa conditions. However, qualitative researchers seem in little doubt that such breaches are far from unusual (Nyland et al., 2009). Students working excessive hours, presumably over several shifts, travelling more often between home, provider site and work, are prima facie more vulnerable to assault than are students working within the visa allowance of twenty hours maximum per week. Moreover, ‘over-working’ students are clearly less able to meet the customarily prescribed weekly hours (around forty) of full time university class attendance and associated study than are those observing the rules. Neill et al. identified fifteen hours of work as a point beyond which ‘there may be a detrimental effect on academic performance’ (Neill et al., 2009, p. 136). However, it is axiomatic that an international student, new to the culture and without the language facility of a local, would probably need to devote more than forty hours to their academic tasks, especially when accessing language support, study skills classes and the like. Yet, surprisingly, given the general tone of duty of care in the student safety debate, the possible negative impact of excessive casual work has received little or no critical attention, nor has it featured in discussion of workplace exploitation of internationals. Nyland et al. make no criticism of students working ‘illegal’ hours, while one prominent commentator viewed any constraints on international students working as likely to result in market disadvantage for Australia (Trounson & Slattery, 2009). It may well be that a restriction that is so difficult to enforce is better abandoned, but there are substantial duty of care issues which would warrant attention. One might also ask, in a situation of

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such blatant exploitation of young vulnerable workers, where is the Australian union movement? It is equally curious that the consequences for academic staff remain uncommented on. When students work excessive hours, they can miss classes (or fall asleep or lack concentration in the ones they do attend), arrive late and leave early, miss assignment deadlines and fall behind in relevant reading and nonclass study activity. Moreover, some immigration-driven students will lack any inherent interest in the discipline area being studied. This adds up to a less than attractive environment for the teacher, already challenged by the intercultural terrain and probably receiving little or no professional development assistance in the struggle. When international students then fail to pass, the teacher is more likely to be scrutinised than the student, a totally unjust outcome if the student is undertaking a ‘casual’ workload incompatible with academic progress. The lack of any critical focus on students is consistent with a student as victim perspective, in the long tradition of sentimental identification with the ‘other’. This may suit a certain ideological predisposition, but falls short of acknowledging the complexities in the current debate. It is simply not possible to generalise about international students’ motivations, financial resources, commitment and study behaviours. In the final analysis, international students are supposed to come to Australia to study, not to work. Where some, with help from unethical figures in the industry’s shadows, effectively circumvent the prescribed financial resources requirements, it can be argued that they put themselves at greater risk in a number of ways. Hence, while it is difficult not to have some sympathy for those in dire straits, a totally uncritical attitude seems misplaced. The same would seem to apply in relation to the emerging revelations (at time of writing) of serious fraud and wrong-doing within elements of the VET private provider area. Is a migration-driven student who seeks to secure bogus documentation and evade course requirements a ‘victim’? Challenging questions such as this serve to highlight the complex nature of the industry and unless this is recognised, it will remain the case that not all the ‘denial’ comes from the education providers. Paul Rodan is Director, International Education Research Centre, CQUniversity, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and is a member of the AUR Editorial Board.

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Neill, N, Mulholland, G, Ross, V & Leckey, J 2004, ‘The Influence of Part-time Work On Student Placement’, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 28(2), pp. 123-137.

Birrell, B 2006, ‘Implications of Low English Standards Among Overseas Students at Australian Universities’, People and Place, 14(4), pp. 53-64.

Ninnes, P, Aitchison, C & Kalos, S 1999, ‘Challenges to Stereotypes of International Students’ Prior Educational Experience: undergraduate education in India’, Higher Education Research & Development, 18(3), pp. 323-342.

Birrell, B, Healy, E & Kinnaird, B 2007, ‘Cooks Galore and Hairdressers Aplenty’, People and Place, 15(1), pp30-44.

Nyland, C 2008, ‘Don’t treat them like cash cows’, Herald Sun (Melbourne), 16 June.

Birrell, B & Healy, E 2008, ‘How are Skilled Migrants Doing?’, People and Place, 16(1) (Supplement), pp. 1-20.

Nyland, C 2009, ‘Australia now playing it safe on safety: Nyland’, Campus Review, 19(2), pp. 4-5.

Birrell, B & Healy, E 2008a, ‘Migrant Accountants- High Numbers, Poor Outcomes’, People and Place, 16(4), pp. 9-22.

Nyland, C, Forbes-Mewett, Marginson, S, Ramia, G, Sawir, E & Smith, S 2009, ‘International students – workers in Australia: A new vulnerable workforce. Journal of Education and Work, 22 (1), pp. 1-14.

Chalmers, D & Volet, S 1997, ‘Common Misconceptions about Students from South-East Asia Studying in Australia’, Higher Education Research & Development, 16(1), pp. 87-98. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), 2009, Monthly Summary of International Student Enrolment Data- AustraliaYTD May 2009. Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), student visa details at <http://www.immi.gov.au/students/students/573-3/financial.htm> (accessed 9 July 2009) Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development (Victoria) (DIIRD) 2008, Overseas Student Education Experience Taskforce (Victoria), 22 December. Egege, S & Kutieleh, S 2004, ‘Critical Thinking: Teaching Foreign Notions to Foreign Students’, International Education Journal, 4(4), pp. 75-85. Healy, G 2009, ‘Doubts over $15bn export earnings claim’, The Australian, Higher Education, 1 July. Hellsten, M & Prescott, A 2004, ‘Learning at University: The International Student Experience’, International Education Journal, 5(3), pp. 344-351. Hodge, A 2009, ‘Indian student industry a study in shams and scams’, The Australian, 14 July. Leask, B 2006, ‘Plagiarism, cultural diversity and metaphor- implications for academic staff development’, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 31(2), pp. 183-199.

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Owens, A & Loomes, S 2007 ‘Seeing students as customers: Can a customerservice approach improve the satisfaction levels of international students at Australian universities?’ conference paper presented at Tertiary Education Management Conference Look to the Future, Canberra September 23-26, 2007, available at <http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/10533/20071123-1525/www.temc. org.au/2007/papers.html> Rodan, P 2009a, ‘Hours late and long a danger to students’, The Australian, Higher Education, 24 June. Rodan, P 2009b, ‘Advising international students of risk’, Campus Review, 27 July, online edition. Sawir, E 2005, ‘Language difficulties of international students in Australia: the effects of prior learning experience’, International Education Journal, 6(5), pp. 567-580. Slattery, L & Trounson, A 2009, ‘Safety net urged for students’, The Australian, Higher Education, 24 June. Svensson, G & Wood, G 2007, ‘Are university students really customers? When illusion may lead to delusion for all!’, International Journal of Educational Management, 21(1), pp. 17-28. TVET Australia 2009, Submission to the Productivity Commission’s Annual Review of Regulatory Burdens on Business: Social and Economic Infrastructure Services, <http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/87017/sub039. pdf> (accessed 16 July, 2009)

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Rethinking the Australian doctoral examination process Margaret Kiley Australian National University

This paper suggests rethinking the doctoral examination process in Australia to enable a closer alignment with the aims of the learning programme. The doctoral examination processes generally aim to assess the candidate’s research capability, the quality and originality of the candidate’s contribution to knowledge, and to authenticate that the work undertaken is in fact that of the candidate. However, based on a review of the Australian system for examining it is clear that the process does not fully align with the aims of the current doctorate and that modest changes could remedy this situation. The paper concludes with some suggestions for change which might enhance the assessment process of Australia’s highest academic award and issues which need to be considered.

Introduction The doctoral examination process is critical in that it is the culmination of at least three to four years of fulltime, or six to eight years part-time, work of a candidate, supervisor(s) and colleagues. Furthermore, of all the higher education awards, it could be argued that the doctorate is the most portable and widely recognised. As Lovitts (2007, p. 23) suggests,‘Unlike other levels of education that have been struggling to specify what students should know and be able to do as a result of their educational experience and devise authentic or true tests of that knowledge and those skills, doctoral education has a true test—the dissertation’. Yet the examination systems for the doctorate vary widely between countries (Hartley, 2000). Perhaps the two extremes are the USA where examination is generally a fully ‘internal’ matter, that is, with the candidate’s dissertation committee and host department making the decision regarding the quality and acceptability of the dissertation, and Australia, where the examination

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of the doctorate is very explicitly an ‘external’ matter with recommendations regarding quality made outside the institution. Regardless of the system, ensuring that the process addresses all the main issues involved in the doctoral experience is an important educational, as well as organisational, responsibility. For the purposes of this paper a curriculum, rather than policy perspective is adopted in the discussion of a number of key issues related to the examination of the doctorate. Using ‘curriculum’ in its broadest sense as a way of examining the issues provides a way of viewing the candidate, the supervisor, the learning, and the assessment process within the context of the discipline, the institutions and global structures. The paper begins with a necessarily brief description of the Australian examination system which produces a ‘Dr’ comparable with any other ‘Dr’ worldwide and then builds on the growing research in the field of research education to discuss the following: • What is the purpose of the doctorate? • What is the object of assessment?

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• Who should assess the final product and what form should that assessment take? • Do we need to have the same model for all disciplines and universities within the one country? • Can the assessment be a more meaningful and useful learning experience for the candidate, supervisor, examiner and institution?

Background An often-quoted adage in higher education goes along the lines of: ‘Assessment drives learning’, or, put another way: ‘If you want students to learn something then you need to assess it’. Perhaps with a more positive spin one could say: ‘If it is important enough to teach then it is important enough to assess’. However it is expressed, assessment is considered an integral part of learning and, it is argued, should be aligned with what the proposed learning outcomes are for students (Biggs, 1999;Toohey, 1999). In addition to the ‘assessment drives learning’ concept is the idea that assessment should be a meaningful part of learning (Biggs, 1997; Boud, 2003). Therefore, this paper takes as its underlying principles that the final assessment processes for doctoral education should be aligned with the proposed learning outcomes and should, in some way, contribute to the learner’s development and understanding of being a researcher. Of course, to articulate the learning outcomes of the doctorate adequately is far from easy, even at the broadest level. Perhaps because of the complex nature of doctoral education most universities have settled for a list of graduate attributes, with a high level of consistency across universities with the following as an example: working in teams, time and project management, effective use of information and communications technology, critical thinking, analytical abilities, problem solving, and ethical approaches to research (Kiley, 2006). Traditionally the examination of doctoral theses in Australia, while varying slightly between universities and disciplines, is similar to the following. Early in candidature, candidates present a proposal seminar on which formative feedback is provided. In some universities, this proposal seminar is also considered in a summative fashion with candidates being asked to exit the programme if their work to date is judged to be less than ideal. Supervisors and advisors also provide ongoing formative feedback on work as it develops and on the candidate’s progress. In many universities vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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there is some form of mid-term presentation in which candidates receive feedback from supervisors and the wider department. The written dissertation, usually a maximum of 100,000 words, is the single final item of examination except in the Performing and Fine Arts, where the performance or exhibition and an exegesis provide the basis for examination; and in a Professional Doctorate, where coursework in the first year is assessed, and then the written dissertation is assessed as per the PhD (see Council of Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies in Australia, 2005). The final written dissertation is sent to two (or three) external examiners with ‘external’ meaning external to the university. Approximately 50 per cent of all Australian theses are examined outside Australia and approximately 50 per cent of universities use three examiners (Bourke, 2005). In most universities the names of examiners are not initially disclosed to candidates or to the other examiners, although candidates are usually involved in discussing a list of potential examiners. Each examiner, without contact with co-examiners, prepares a written report (on average 3-4 pages) providing formative feedback to the candidate, supervisor and/or university. Each examiner also provides a recommendation to the university’s higher degrees committee (or similar) as to whether the dissertation should be ‘accepted as is’, ‘accepted with minor editorial, or with more substantial editorial changes’, ‘re-submitted for examination after substantial change’, or ‘considered unacceptable’ Some universities allow the examiner the option of suggesting that the student be awarded a Masters degree in lieu of the PhD. Most universities allow examiners to request an oral examination of the candidate (and in some cases the candidate can request this), although this is not common practice. The university’s relevant committees discuss the examiners’ recommendations, and then make the final decision as to the outcome of the examination process. Taking an historical perspective on doctoral education it is easy to understand why it is that in Australia external assessment practices for doctoral theses were adopted. The first doctorate in Australia was offered in 1946 and it is not surprising that it was considered essential to have such work examined externally (at that stage it was taken to mean overseas) as that is where many of the ‘experts’ of the time were researching (Pearson, 2005). This practice was also, no doubt, exacerbated by Australia’s colonial ties with Britain. Furthermore, given Australia’s distance from the sources

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of such examiners, bringing external examiners to engage in an oral examination was out of the question, hence the assessment process relied on a written dissertation and written examiners’ reports. Of course the context has changed substantially in Australia since 1946, including the concentration of a substantial number of highly qualified and skilled researchers within Australia, outstanding developments in international travel, and enhanced communication technologies. In recent years, a number of Australian universities have been recognised as being among the best in the world with three Australian universities in the top 100 universities listed on the Shanghai Jiao Tong Index, a further three in the top 100-200 and three more in the top 200-300 meaning that at least nine of Australia’s 37 publicly funded universities can be considered as good as, if not better than, those to which theses might have been sent in the past (Institute of Higher Education of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2008). Furthermore, Australia is acknowledged as a world leader in doctoral education and research (Taylor & Beasley, 2005, p. 218). It could be argued, therefore, that the current dissertation examination system within Australia is not based on current educational practice, but rather historical circumstances. Despite that, there are several observable benefits of the existing system, including: • External, and generally international, validation of candidates’ work (Bourke et al. 2004). • A level of objectivity with the examiners being unknown to the candidate, and to one another (Kiley & Mullins, 2004; Mullins & Kiley, 2002). • The argument that the system produces reliable results regarding the quality of the thesis (Bourke et al. 2006). • The provision of written reports from the examiners which are often extensive and generally of considerable value in terms of contributing to the further refinement and development of the research (Johnston, 1997). As with any curriculum, however, the issues related to doctoral assessment are: What is the purpose of the particular form of education? What is it that we want the graduate to know, to be able to do, and to ‘be’? Through answering these questions we can then ask: How can we appropriately assess this? The argument for reviewing and possibly amending a doctoral examination system relates to aligning the assessment with the learning and research experiences of the contemporary doctoral candidate, an argument which is expanded below.

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Purpose of the doctorate A topic of frequent discussion among those involved in research education is ‘What is the purpose of the doctorate?’ and more specifically ‘What is the purpose of the dissertation?’ A particular insight into the contemporary purpose of the doctorate is the substantial increase in the focus on developing research and employability skills within the doctorate demonstrated through an original contribution to knowledge. For example, in addressing the changing roles of the doctorate in Japan,Yamamoto (2008) states: Globalisation and changes in industrial structure are leading to changes in the demands for professionally and academically trained workers. One national problem is that existing graduate programmes do not fully respond to those needs…In Japan, outside of academia, PhDs are still regarded as a special kind of people who are difficult to manage…Overcoming this belief and giving PhDs important roles, I think, are the solutions that will respond to globalization. (p. 215) Referring to Germany, Enders (2005) argues: PhD graduates have a significant career advantage [outside higher education] in comparison with their graduate peers from the same discipline without a PhD. Furthermore, the PhD provides an entrance ticket especially for elite positions—consider, for example, that 50 per cent of the members of the board of the 200 biggest German companies have a PhD. (2005, p. 122) From her extensive study of US academics engaged in doctoral education Lovitts (2007) suggests that they saw the purpose of the dissertation being both process and product. The process included research training and the demonstration of the mastery of research skills, and the product included the credentialling of the candidate and their contribution. In Australia, the idea of the doctorate being mainly about completing a substantial body of original work was challenged with the introduction of time limitations when the Australian Government brought in the Research Training Scheme (RTS) in the late 1990s. This scheme provides funding to universities for a maximum of four years for the education of doctoral candidates. The majority of the funds are provided on student completion, not on enrolment (Gordon, 2000; Neumann, 2007). A more recent Australian Government development which indicates even more strongly the shift to seeing the doctorate as ‘training future researchers’ is

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to look for ‘training’ whereas those in individualistic the new reporting mechanisms for Australian universiresearch environments will more likely look for the ties with regard to Higher Degree by Research (HDR) ‘demonstration’ of skills. programmes. Previously reporting to the Department Certainly work by Mullins and Kiley (2002) indiof Education, Science and Training (DEST), universities cated that experienced examiners are aware of their now report on this aspect of their education provision own views as to whether they are examining the disto the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science sertation as a ‘polished and cohesive piece of writing and Research (DIISR 2008). This Government departthat provides an original contribution to knowledge’ ment’s website states ‘DIISR strives as a key priority or whether they are judging if the candidate has demto encourage the sustainable growth of Australian onstrated that she/he is ‘capable of undertaking indeindustries by developing a national innovation system pendent research’. driving knowledge creation, cutting edge science and We received two distinctly different answers, reflectresearch, international competitiveness and greater ing, we believe, two quite different views of what they productivity’.This move suggests that the Government were examining. One view was that it is the thesis, clearly sees doctoral education as contributing to Ausas a complete and comprehensive document that tralia’s innovation agenda. will remain on the library shelf, that is being examSuch a view has implications for doctoral pedagogy ined, the other argument and curriculum, including put forward was that it is assessment. One change of ... the belief is that the purpose of the the student as a potential focus is argued by Chamdoctorate is to both make an original researcher who is being baz (2008, p. 19) where he contribution to knowledge and as a examined. (p. 382) suggests that any focus on foundation in research training, Assuming that, in Ausresearch training should tralia at least, the belief is not imply that research that the purpose of the graduates are merely pracdoctorate is to both make an original contribution to tising to be researchers, but rather they are engaging knowledge and as a foundation in research training, in ‘real’ research: then the following comments by Chubb (2000) are The European Union…established a Charter of apposite: European Researchers which says that, ‘Doctoral candidates should be considered as early stage The issue of what constitutes a PhD or other higher researchers, and so recognised as professionals degree by research is something that perhaps should with commensurate rights and duties’. And the be discussed system-wide. No university could shift definition of the ‘early stage researchers’ is the first from present expectations on its own—given that our year of practising research including the thesis. It’s staff examine each other’s students—without potenreally that doctoral candidates are considered at the tially disadvantaging our students. If something were European level as ‘early stage researchers’’. to be done, if expectations about the quantum of work were to be modified, it would need to be done by most Furthermore, recent developments suggest that the of our universities. Now, I am not suggesting that the focus has shifted somewhat from the ‘original’ conrequirement for originality, intellectual rigour and so tribution to knowledge towards rather a significant on would change, or that the body of work should be contribution to knowledge. From her study of US acaother than substantial—and obviously I am not prodemics Lovitts (2007) suggests that what constitutes posing to change the requirement for external exami‘contribution’ is interesting with the question; is a signation of PhD theses. I am talking about how much a nificant contribution sufficient or does it need to be student needs to do to prepare them for their role as an original contribution? This was an area of debate the next generation of researcher. I suspect that close among her respondents. But what do examiners look examination could reveal that the expectations are for? Isaac, Quinlan and Walker (1992) suggest that now too high. (p. 19) some examiners look for a demonstration of the canAccepting that there is both a role for an original didate’s research skills, whereas others look for the contribution to knowledge, and for research education training of such skills, and others seek a contribution within the doctoral programme, this leads us to ask: to knowledge. Their work further suggests that acaWhat is the object of assessment? demics working in laboratory settings are more likely vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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The object of assessment Based on the argument above a slightly different way of defining the purpose of the doctorate is to suggest that it aims to educate future researchers by having them undertake a substantial, supervised, research project which makes a contribution to knowledge. In many, but by no means all cases these researchers will become the next generation of academics (Neumann, et al. 2008). Whether the graduate goes into an academic career at some stage or not, in the final assessment of the doctoral candidate we are considering: • The skill development of the candidate. • The candidate’s demonstrated potential to undertake research, and • The quality and originality of the contribution to knowledge that the candidate has made throughout the research project. While most universities provide programmes and support for candidate skills development, not all universities explicitly acknowledge that many research candidates commence their degree with highly advanced professional employability skills (e.g. the mature-age professional undertaking a part-time research degree, or the candidate who commences a doctorate having undertaken a well structured research learning experience in their Honours or Research Masters programme). Despite the entry criteria and level of knowledge and skill, in curriculum terms, at the doctoral examination stage, we are considering the outcomes, not necessarily the inputs, of the programme given that the examiners do not know the candidate, and unlike academics in Lovitts’ (2007) study, are unable to make judgments regarding the development or otherwise of such skills prior to, or during candidature. As the work of Ryland (2007) and the University of Queensland Social Research Centre (2007) propose, the transfer of skills that have been developed through employment to the research education experience was common. Hence, skill development, it is argued, is by no means a one-way process from the research education experience to the workplace or society. Being able to present an argument and to answer questions on one’s area of expertise are generally considered to be skills of a research graduate. Clearly in many cases the assessment of such skills can only occur in an authentic setting where the candidate presents her/his work to an audience. On these grounds, the argument for some sort of oral assessment toward the

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end of candidature is quite compelling. As Kiley (2006, p. 166) suggests: These skills, on the whole, are not formally assessed, other than through the examination of the thesis, which in Australia rarely includes an oral exam. Leaving aside the question of whether the attributes that universities have identified are the most appropriate, the question arises, should universities even attempt to assess such skills? If so, how might they be assessed so that they lead to doctoral student learning, not simply assessment for its own sake? With regard to the second area of assessment, that is the candidate’s capability for undertaking research, some of the examiners in the Kiley & Mullins (2004) and Mullins & Kiley (2002) studies suggested that they were able to identify a candidate’s research capability through the way that she/he presented their findings. However, others suggested that this was quite difficult, particularly in disciplines where there was considerable teamwork and multiple authors on publications. Being able to authenticate the candidate’s contribution to the research was one of the main benefits of an oral examination proposed by interviewees in the study by Tinkler & Jackson (2004, p. 18). With regard to the third area of assessment, that is, the quality and originality of the research, it is likely that a sound argument can be made to support the idea that assessment can be effectively managed through examination of the dissertation itself.Whether the expectation is a substantial contribution to knowledge as Lovitts (2007) suggests from some of her informants, or the three different types of ‘originality’: the topic, the process and the outcomes outlined by Tinkler & Jackson (2004)—most examiners report that they are able to identify such a contribution to knowledge, even if this is just ‘A spark of inspiration as well as perspiration’ as Winter et al. (2000, p. 35) amusingly define originality.

Assessment decisions: How and by whom? The issue of the form of assessment is perhaps the most vexed for Australian universities. Candidates tend not to be supportive of orals as they have either heard the ‘horror stories’ that surround the viva voce or defence process and/or they have not appreciated the range and variety of oral examination processes that exist. Many administrators are not overly supportive of oral examination, particularly if they have not thought through the options of tele/videoconferencing as they

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generally consider the cost to be exorbitant and organization across time zones a logistical nightmare. This is despite Australia’s near neighbour, New Zealand, having an oral examination where the overseas external examiner, on completion of a thorough reading of the thesis, discusses her/his views and comments with a ‘local’ examiner. The ‘local’ examiner then puts forward the overseas examiner’s comments and questions as well as his/her own at the face-to-face oral.This process supports the use of overseas examiners while at the same time encouraging oral examination in a country quite distant from where many of the possible examiners are located (Fraser & Rowarth, 2007). The argument remains open: internal or external and in what proportions? If internals and externals, do they all have the same voting rights? If most institutions select experienced examiners then how might inexperienced academics gain doctoral assessment skills? Is there room for a representative of industry, the professions or the community on the examination panel given the focus on life-long and employability skill development during doctoral education? In many higher education systems there is the involvement of an internal examiner to a greater or lesser extent. In some cases, the ‘internal’ is the candidate’s supervisor; in other cases it is someone from within the department or from a cognate discipline. Furthermore, within the range of types of internal examiners there is also a range of roles. In some systems the role of the internal examiner is to arrange and oversee the oral assessment, for example, briefing the assessors, chairing the session and coordinating the preparation of the final result and report. In others, the supervisor is involved in the process but is not an assessor but rather explicitly involved as a proponent for the candidate and their research (Hartley, 2000). The practice of not using the supervisor as an assessor, but perhaps as a proponent or chair, fits with the principle that it is difficult to effectively be both advisor/supporter and assessor. One of the reported strengths of the current Australian system is that it does not include an internal assessor, leading to external, and generally international, scrutiny of quality and standards. Furthermore, with the Australian Government’s funding model which funds on doctoral candidate completions, the possibility of universities being perceived to ‘soft mark’ their own candidates based on financial rather than educational criteria is avoided through the sole use of external examiners. This also helps to avoid the ethical dilemmas alluded vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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to by Lovitts (2007) with regard to conflict of interest between internal examiners, candidates and institutions.Another consideration related to the use of internal and external examiners is the weighting given to the various views. For example, does the chair of the panel have a vote, or maybe only a deciding vote? Is the external examiner’s view weighted more heavily than the internal examiner’s? Determining the various weightings and considerations is almost as important as determining the number of internal and external examiners to be involved. The issue does not just stop with the ‘internal/ external’ consideration, but as research has shown (Buckridge, 2003; Kiley & Mullins, 2004; Trafford, 2003; Mullins & Kiley, 2002) there are discernible differences between experienced and inexperienced examiners and the way in which they approach examination. Generally inexperienced examiners tend to focus more on the ‘parts’ than on the whole, and the technical detail than the coherent argument, compared with their more experienced colleagues. These results have now led a number of UK universities to require that between them the two doctoral examiners must have examined a minimum of four doctoral theses (S. Taylor, personal communication, December 7, 2006). There is little evidence to suggest that the examination process itself is better if it involves examiners from outside the country. Although, in terms of prestige, the ‘marketing’ of outstanding candidates to potential ‘employers’, and the general ‘international seal of approval’, most Australian universities seek to include at least one overseas examiner where appropriate. The ‘marketing’ of particularly talented graduates is a practice that appears to be well known within the academy (Mullins & Kiley, 2002). This is especially the case in Australia where a supervisor will often recommend that a dissertation be sent to someone in a research group who will (a) appreciate the quality of the work; and (b) consider offering the graduating student a post-doctoral position or reference for future positions based on the quality of the dissertation. If we are considering the doctorate as a means of contributing to a country’s research and development capacity, as well as being a personal and social contribution, would it be reasonable to suggest that at least one of the assessors be from outside the academy? At the moment, at least in Australia, caution is exercised in using examiners from outside the academy as they are

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generally considered tougher in their recommendations. For example, arising from the Mullins and Kiley (2002) study: I spent the first 10 years of my career in [a research institute] and I had examined theses before I became a supervisor…Coming from the pure research environment you judge much more against scientific papers because that is your benchmark because of course what I had done before being a PhD examiner was to be a reviewer of papers so you take very much your benchmark from that [and so they are] judging against their peers, someone who has been publishing for 20 years. (Sc/Female/24) Yet, if we wish to align the assessment with the aims of the programme, then might not this be a reasonable consideration?

Should all universities and disciplines follow the same method of assessment? While there is already considerable variation across the academy in the way that doctoral theses are assessed, and mindful of the exhortation from Chubb (2000) that no one Australian university would be wise to change its system without regard to the impact of such a change, the question remains, do all Australian universities and even disciplines have to adopt the same system? Certainly there is considerable discipline variation already and it might well be that some of the professional disciplines might prefer to ‘agree to differ’. However, this would be wise only when the variation mirrored that which is occurring internationally. The issue of multi-disciplinary/cross-disciplinary theses and their examination would need careful consideration in these circumstances. Having suggested that different disciplines might like to approach the examination of doctoral theses in discipline-specific ways is not as strange as it might sound. Work by Bourke et al. (2004) and Mullins and Kiley (2002) suggest that while different disciplines have their own particular ways of training and developing their researchers, when it comes to examination it is often difficult to detect any disciplinary differences, other than with technical language, in the reports and the ways in which examiners have gone about the process. Lovitts (2007) reports a similar phenomenon in that US academics in different disciplines ‘often used the same words and phrases to describe dissertations and components of dissertations at the different quality levels’ (p xiii) and yet the training process can be significantly different.

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Another form of variation that might be taken into account in assessment might be the candidate’s purpose in undertaking a doctorate. For example, could a candidate aspiring to be an academic undergo a different examination process from someone who plans to work within government or private enterprise? The notion of alignment would suggest that different forms of assessment might be appropriate if candidates engaged in different learning experiences through their programme and that there were different aims for the programme outcomes. Consideration of this form of variation is particularly pertinent with the increased focus on the explicit inclusion of generic/employability skills within doctoral programmes. More complex is the issue of whether all universities within the one country need to follow a similar assessment method at the doctoral level or is there room for variation? Certainly, some universities could argue that the quality of their staff and their research reputation is such that they could consider adopting a system of assessment that involved some use of internal examination in the final decision. Furthermore, some of these universities are likely to have funding and collaborative research arrangements that make international travel for assessment purposes more viable. Australia’s Group of Eight universities (Go8), which collectively graduate well over 50 per cent of all Australia’s doctoral candidates, might be in such a position. This is not to imply that others could not, or that these universities would only examine one another’s doctoral candidates. Suffice to say that thought could be given to the idea of different university groupings adopting alternative strategies for assessing doctoral theses. Having suggested that there might be reasons that justify variability, one might also argue along the lines of the Bologna Agreement (Bologna Declaration, 1999). One of the main reasons for the Agreement was to enable greater mobility of learners and graduates with transferable and internationally recognized awards. The question is then, to what extent does variability across institutions and countries militate against transferability and mobility of arguably the academy’s most globally recognized award?

Making assessment meaningful With regard to making the assessment process a more meaningful learning process for students, the issue of timing is important. For example, what would be the ramifications of introducing one of the external asses-

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• Determine if the candidate can locate her/his sors to the candidate’s supervisory panel prior to final research within a broader context. submission? In other words, might the external asses• Invite the candidate to defend her/his thesis. sor be more involved in giving formative advice to the • Assess oral and presentation skills. candidate prior to finalizing the dissertation? This could • Clarify areas of weakness and ambiguity. be either an Australian/New Zealand external or an • Determine whether the candidate’s work is of suffioverseas external who is visiting or via teleconference. cient quality to be finalised and submitted for exterThere are obvious advantages in this model in terms of nal examination. greater use of expert feedback while the candidate is One benefit of the oral examination not included still involved in the development of the research. in the Tinkler & Jackson (2004) list is the provision of On the other hand, one perceived disadvantage advice to the candidate on what is required to develop might be the ‘contamination’ of the final result where and refine the final ‘product’ for examination. Furtherobjectivity is considered a hallmark of the assessment more, one purpose outlined in their work and not system. Perhaps a third option, the introduction of an noted in this paper is to make a final decision on borassessment panel or committee could be considered. derline work; this, in the Australian system would be Taking from the US model, and based on practices in left to the external examiners. some Australian universities, departments and schools If a candidate is able to could consider establishing articulate a well-researched a committee or panel, sepaTaking from the US model, and based on argument and demonstrate rate from the supervisors, practices in some Australian universities, other high level knowledge who would be involved departments and schools could consider and attributes, then the in assessing the thesis establishing a committee or panel, separate assessors are in an excelproposal at the six to 12 from the supervisors, who would be lent position to assess the month milestone, a midinvolved in assessing the thesis proposal at student’s learning through term review where such the six to 12 month milestone... the project. Whether this practices are in place, and ‘presentation for approval a pre-submission oral presto submit’ is private i.e. entation as outlined below. involving the candidate, assessment panel and adminThis model would maintain the current objectivity of istrative support only, or opened more widely to other the external examiners while providing formal, formastaff and candidates, is a matter for discussion. Howtive (and even summative) feedback from staff in addiever, it is proposed by those universities seeking to tion to the supervisors. implement, or having recently implemented such a Another aspect of timing is when a final oral presprocess that it might lead to fewer borderline examientation might be most appropriately made. In sysnation cases per institution than currently is the case. tems that currently involve an oral examination e.g. The reasons put forward for this are that having their the viva voce in the UK, the oral assessment comes work exposed to a critical audience, other than the after the examiners have read the dissertation and presupervisors, and having to articulate an argument, or pared their reports. In the Canadian system, if the writin the case of Europe and the USA ‘defend their thesis’ ten reports prior to the oral assessment suggest that candidates might be assisted in refining their thesis the student may not be successful then generally the prior to submission. Such a pre-submission oral presoral is postponed until the candidate has been able to entation could play a particularly useful role where undertake more work (Hall, 2006). In light of internaregular, external presentations by doctoral candidates tional practices, what would it mean in terms of stuat national and international conferences and meeting dent learning if the oral presentation were conducted are not the norm prior to submission as an ‘approval to submit’ process? Following the assessment process outlined above Based on a modification of the purposes for an oral the candidate (for all cases other than ‘revise and assessment outlined by Tinkler & Jackson (2004, pp. resubmit’) could revise the dissertation in light of the 17-22) it is possible to provide assessors with aims for formative comments made by the assessment panel. the pre-submission oral presentation, which include: This might take up to three months or even longer if • Authenticate that the work being presented is the research assessed were deemed under-developed. indeed the candidate’s. vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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The candidate is not ‘just fixing up a few bits and pieces here and there’ nor has she/he left the university (and even the country) upon submission of the dissertation for examination, as is often the current situation in Australia, but is using the formative feedback as a means of (perhaps substantially) developing and refining the work. There are several clear advantages to involving the supervisor/ supervisory panel or committee in the oral assessment. For example, it ensures that the supervisors have read the dissertation and have engaged with the candidate in determining the appropriate time for its submission.A further benefit is that it allows opportunities for inexperienced supervisors/assessors to learn through being involved in the process with more experienced colleagues. When the candidate, in conjunction with the supervisory panel, believes that she/he has revised the dissertation in light of the comments made by the assessment panel, the dissertation would be submitted to two external assessors. As an additional benefit to learning, candidates would be asked to prepare a response to the assessment panel’s comments akin to the response one makes regarding changes made in light of reviewers’ comments on journal manuscripts. This response could accompany the revised dissertation when submitted for final examination.

Conclusion This paper has outlined the issues that need to be considered regarding possible changes to the current assessment practices for Australian doctoral candidates. It has also outlined some modest changes, which, it is argued, will enable the assessment process to be more closely integrated with learning for the candidate, supervisors, examiners and the institution. It is suggested that the current system in Australia was appropriate at the time the first doctorate was introduced into Australia in 1946, but developments over the past 60 years require rethinking of current curriculum practices. The suggestion has been made that there are benefits to candidates, supervisors, examiners and institutions in terms of their learning with the use of oral assessment. Furthermore, by careful timing of the oral assessment it might be possible to enable formative feedback to be a stronger outcome of the assessment process compared with the current system where examiners’ comments often come too late for meaningful learning.

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The argument for considering changes to a system that in many ways works well is based on the valuable learning outcome for candidates, supervisors, examiners and institutions in ways that align the assessment strategies with the aims of the project. Dr Margaret Kiley is Convenor, Higher Degree Research at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

References Biggs, J 1997, Assessing student learning: Innovation in Teaching and Learning Workshop, Adelaide. Biggs, J 1999, Teaching for quality learning at university: What the student does. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press. Bologna Declaration 1999, Joint declaration of the European Ministers of Education. Bologna: European Union. Boud, D 2003, ‘How can assessment contribute (or not) to lifelong learning?’ Paper presented at the Teaching for Learning Showcase, University of Canberra. Bourke, S 2005, ‘Some relationships between nature of PhD enrolment, time of candidature and thesis quality’. Paper presented at the Biennial EARLI Conference, Nicosia, Cyprus. 23-27 August, 2005. Bourke, S, Hattie, J & Anderson, L 2004, ‘Predicting examiner recommendations on PhD theses’, International Journal of Educational Research, 27(4), 178-194. Bourke, S, Holbrook, A & Lovat, T 2006, 27-30 November, ‘Relationships of PhD candidate, candidature and examination characteristics with thesis outcomes’. Paper presented at the AARE Conference, Adelaide. Buckridge, M 2003, PhD examination, practice and principle. Griffith Institute of Higher Education: Griffith University. Chambaz, J 2008, ‘Reforming Doctoral Education in Europe: A Response to Global Challenges’. Proceedings of the Quality in postgraduate research: Research education in the new global environment, Adelaide. Chubb, I 2000, ‘The impact of the White paper on universities: Some possibilities’, in Kiley, M & Mullins, M (eds), Quality in Postgraduate Research: Making ends meet (pp. 15-29). Adelaide: Advisory Centre for University Education. Council of Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies in Australia 2005, Framework for best practices in doctoral examination in Australia, from <http:// www.ddogs.edu.au/cgi-bin/index.pl> Retrieved 14 November, 2005. DIISR (Department of Innovation, Industry Science and Research) 2008, About DIISR <http://www.innovation.gov.au/Section/AboutDIISR/Pages/default.aspx> retrieved 16 September, 2008. Fraser, G & Rowarth, J 2007, ‘Preparing candidates for oral examination’, in Denholm, C & Evans, T (eds), Supervising doctorates downunder: Keys to effective supervision in Australia and New Zealand (pp. 243-250). Melbourne: ACER. Enders, J 2005, ‘Border crossings: Research training, knowledge dissemination and the transformation of academic work’, Higher Education, 49(1-2), 119-133. Gordon, J 2000, ‘The challenges facing higher education research training’, in Kiley, M & Mullins, G (eds), Quality in postgraduate research: Making ends meet (pp. 9-13). Adelaide: ACUE. Hall, F 2006, ‘Canadian practices related to the examination of PhD theses’, in Kiley, M & Mullins, G (eds), Quality in postgraduate research: Knowledge creation in testing times - Part 1: Refereed papers (pp. 41-54). Canberra: CEDAM.

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Hartley, J 2000, ‘Nineteen ways to have a viva’, PsyPag Quarterly Newsletter No. 35, June, pp. 22-28. Institute of Higher Education of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University 2008, Academic rankings of world universities. Retrieved December 2008, from <http:// www.arwu.org/rank2008/EN2008.htm> Isaac, P, Quinlan, S & Walker, M 1992, ‘Faculty perceptions of the doctoral dissertation’, Journal of Higher Education 63(3), 241-268. Johnston, S 1997, ‘Examining the examiners: An analysis of examiners’ reports on doctoral theses’, Studies in Higher Education, 22(3), 333-346. Kiley, M 2006, ‘Can we improve doctoral student learning through assessing generic and employability skills?’, in Rust, C (ed.), Improving student learning through assessment (pp. 116-124). London: OCSLD. Kiley, M & Mullins, G 2004, ‘Examining the examiners: How inexperienced examiners approach the assessment of research theses’, International Journal of Educational Research, 41(2), 121-135. Lovitts, B 2007, Making the implicit explicit: Creating performance expectations for the dissertation. Sterling, Va: Stylus. Mullins, G & Kiley, M 2002, ‘‘It’s a PhD, not a Nobel Prize’: How experienced examiners assess research theses’, Studies in Higher Education, 27(4), 369-386. Neumann, R 2007, ‘Policy and practice in doctoral education’, Studies in Higher Education, 32(4), 459-473. Neumann, R, Kiley, M & Mullins, G 2008, ‘Australian Doctoral Graduates: where are they going?’, in Kiley, M & Mullins, G (eds), Quality in postgraduate research: Research education in the new global environment (pp. 84-89). Canberra: CEDAM, ANU.

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Pearson, M 2005, ‘Chapter 2: Changing contexts for research education: Implications for supervisor development’, in Green, P (ed.), Supervising postgraduate research: Contexts and processes, theories and practices (pp. 11-29). Melbourne: RMIT Press. Ryland, K 2007, Reconceptualising the Australian doctorate experience: Work, creativity and part-time study. Deakin, Geelong. Taylor, S & Beasley, N 2005, A handbook for doctoral supervisors. London: Routledge. Tinkler, P & Jackson, C 2004, The Doctoral Examination Process: A handbook for students, examiners and supervisors. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press. Toohey, S 1999, Designing courses for higher education. Buckingham: SRHE and OUPO. Trafford, V 2003, ‘Questions in doctoral vivas: Views from the inside’, Quality Assurance in Education, 11(2), 114-122. University of Queensland Social Research Centre 2007, PhD graduate five to seven years out: Employment outcomes, job attributes and the quality of research training: Final report. Brisbane: Prepared for Department of Education, Science and Training. Winter, R, Griffiths, M & Green, K 2000, ‘The ‘academic’ qualities of practice: What are the criteria for a practice-based PhD?’, Studies in Higher Education, 25(1), 25-37. Yamamoto, S 2008, ‘Japan’, in Nerad, M & Heggelund, M (eds), Toward a Global PhD? Forces and forms in doctoral education worldwide (pp. 204220) Seattle: University of Washington.

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Cultural issues in commencing the supervision of Chinese research students Richard Ingleby & Mona Chung Deakin University

This paper discusses the impact Chinese students’ culturally-specific features might have on the processes by which they commence their higher degrees by research candidature. We explain how existing frameworks in cross-cultural studies and an appreciation of the different educational background might be used to create a better understanding of the Australian supervisor-Chinese PhD student relationship. We provide strategies to deal with features of Australian academic culture which the Chinese candidate might find confronting so as to maximise the chances of a successful start to candidature and a reduction in the possibility of problems arising.

The purpose of this paper is to consider how culturallyspecific features of Chinese students might have an impact on the processes by which they commence their higher degrees by research candidature. Its rationale is the requirement for sound strategic management practice and the need to understand the challenge of crosscultural communication from both sides of the equation. For the purpose of this paper, the ‘Chinese’ students referred to include all students who are from China or Hong Kong as international students, and those born in China or Hong Kong who now have permanent residency who are therefore domestic students (see Table 1). However, some of the features may vary to a degree among these different groups of students. Predominantly the group showing as from China in Table 1 will be the major concern for Australian universities and supervisors. An increasing number of this group comes to Australia after completing their Master degrees which are relevant to this paper.

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The global movement of international students has turned higher education into a major export industry. In 2007, about 455 000 international students were studying at Australian institutions (DFAT, 2008).According the Australian Bureau of Statistics, education services exports is now Australia’s third largest export, worth about $15 billion, including on-shore earnings by international students (Healy, 2009). International fee-paying students born in China are a significant feature of international students more generally although they are likely to be in a slightly different situation from many students in that they may be the holders of a scholarship to cover the costs of tuition fees and/or a living allowance. Although international PhD candidates have some common needs (Owens, 2007) they are not an homogenous group. Chinese research students will probably become proportionately more significant vis-à-vis undergraduates because of the rapidly increasing number of

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Table 1 Overseas and Domestic Students 2006 by Course Level and Country of Birth Country of Birth

Australia

Overseas Students

Domestic Students

All Students

PhD

Other Course Levels

Total

PhD

Other Course Levels

Total

37

842

879

21370

544382

565752

566631

China

645

54215

54860

925

11852

12777

67637

Hong Kong

255

20525

20780

392

8281

8673

29453

Other OS

6549

160603

167152

9685

128238

137923

305075

Unknown

172

6951

7123

481

7746

8227

15350

Total

7658

243136

250794

32853

700499

733352

984146

Source: DEEWR Customised Aggregated UEAG Data File, unpublished. Obtained from the Centre for Population & Urban Research, Monash University.

undergraduate places available in tertiary institutions and contracting numbers of students in China. China does not share the education philosophy which underpins teaching and learning systems in Australia (Ladd & Ruby, 1999). Adjusting to the Australian system is therefore a major challenge for Chinese research students. On the other hand, supervisors are rarely aware of the cultural differences let alone do they receive training in supervising Chinese students.A final introductory point is that just as PhD students overall are not a homogeneous group, neither are Chinese PhD candidates. In this paper we attempt to explain how existing frameworks in cross-cultural studies might be used in order to create better understandings of the Australian supervisor-Chinese PhD student relationship. Although there is little or no empirical information on the subject, there is a body of literature relating to the specific characteristics deriving from Chinese culture.The comparative literature is based around two frameworks.The first is Hofstedeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (2001) four dimensions of culture that include power-distance and collectivism versus individualism. The second is Hallâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (1976) continuum of high to low context cultures. These frameworks are widely applied in cross-cultural business and other studies and we argue in this paper that the insights derived from the frameworks assist in explaining the dynamics of the supervisor-PhD student relationship. In addition to the comparative cross-cultural literature, there is a body of data about Chinese culture which is also relevant.

Power-distance One distinguishing feature of Chinese culture is the acceptance that large differences in power between individuals and groups of individuals are a natural feature of society (Hofstede, 2001; Kirkbride, Tang, & Westwood, 1991p.367). This acceptance derives from vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

Chinese values and concepts about the structure of interpersonal relationships and society which have survived, and probably sustained and been sustained by generations of Maoism. Essentially for the purposes of this discussion, a Chinese student will perceive themselves as being required to conform to standards of behaviour prescribed by their position within prescribed relationships. This approach contrasts with that of many (although perhaps not all) Australian academics. Many Australian academics actively reject the need for conformity and regard the individual as able, if not obliged, to challenge existing social structures.

Harmony and collectivism Another distinguishing feature of Chinese culture is the desire for harmony to maintain collective peace (Fan, 2000; Hofstede, 2001). By contrast, Western people are comfortable in denying requests and in accepting that there are issues in relation to which reasonable people can disagree. Western academics see vigorous debate as an indicator of a healthy academic community. Indeed, many conferences and special editions of journals are organised precisely with the aim of advancing debate by pitting polarised views against each other. But people from a Chinese background would not feel comfortable with the antagonism inherent in such interdisciplinary, theoretical or methodological debates (Chung, 2008). China is a high trust culture. In Chinese cultures people interact in networks which are based on multiple layers of contexts. These multiple layers, which might include kinship ties, old school ties, regional links or community of origin links, are of a far broader dimension than the one-on-one interactions which characterise daily existence. The implication of these multiple layers is that the Chinese candidate will conceive of

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every interaction with their supervisor and the university in the context of broader settings. This conception obviously involves a particular concept of the optimal relationship between and within these multiple layers because of the primacy attached to harmony.

Face and face-saving In Chinese cultures, one consequence of the primacy of collectivism and the desire for harmony is the need for individuals to maintain their face in relation to other people.Western people do not necessarily see an antagonistic relationship with another human being as a reflection against that other human being. There is even a level on which respect emerges from a competition with a ‘worthy adversary.’ But in Chinese culture, people are anxious to maintain their own sense of positive self-approval and that of others. Obviously this concept (which has yet to be fully understood by Western academics) is closely related to the desirability of, and is a technique for the maintenance of, collective harmony (Tse, Belk, & Zhan, 1988). Maintaining one’s face and the face of others to whom one is related is a form of self-respect (Gesteland, 1999) and respect for others to maintain harmony (Chung, 2008). Although the concept of ‘face’ is not exclusively an oriental notion (Guirdham, 1999; Lewicki, Saunders, Minton, & Barry, 2003; Lloyd & Trompenaars, 1993; Ting-Toomey, 1999), there are specifically Confucian concepts of face.The phrase ‘to lose face’ is not sophisticated enough to explain the complexity of the feelings of all those involved in such a situation. In the Chinese language, two different terms are generally used to discuss the issue of ‘face’.The two phrases have differences in meaning and are used for different occasions.‘Diulian (丢脸)’ is used for a situation where someone causes embarrassment by their own behaviour. For example, a child who did not meet their parents’ expectations or an adult who behaved in an inappropriate manner would cause embarrassment to themselves because of their own actions. ‘Diumianzi (丢面子)’ is used to describe a situation where a person is embarrassed by the behaviour of another; perhaps because the other’s wrongdoing is exposed or because the other is unable to comply with an obligation in a complementary relationship to fulfil an obligation or to comply with the other’s expectations (Hanna & Wilson, 1998). The concept of saving face explains many incidents of interaction in Chinese life. For example, aggressive behaviour in negotiation is not acceptable because it

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causes a loss of face to the other as well as to the aggressor. From the Chinese perspective the concept of face means that an offer by one party will be seen in terms of the effort required to make the offer, whereas to Australians the value is usually evaluated in terms of its value to the offeree. Chinese research students will be anxious to maintain their self-respect and also to maintain what they perceive as respect appropriate for their supervisor.

Educational backgrounds This specific features of Chinese philosophy discussed above are reflected in, and for our purposes, accentuated by, differences in the respective societies’ educations systems. Ladd and Ruby (1999) assert that ‘in the Chinese education system, the teacher is the final authority.’ In contrast, the Australian education system places emphasis on active learning and the acquisition of transferable skills (Varga-Atkins & Ashcroft, 2004). This difference has been identified as a source of learning problems for Asian students (Kutieleh, Egege, & Morgan, 2003) and is a cause of culture shock. The shock is not just the requirement for students to develop critical thinking skills, but also to accept that many problems do not have one particularly ‘correct’ answer (Broadbear, 2003). For Asian students, the focus is on gaining knowledge rather than engaging in critical thinking. This conflicts with the approach to learning in Western universities at the doctoral level (and even in many aspects of undergraduate learning) (Kutieleh et al., 2003). The differences in approach go beyond the processes of learning and extend to the authority of the academic. Yap (1997) notes that overseas students from Chinese cultures ‘consider that authors and lecturers are always right, while they themselves are ‘nobodies.’’ Additionally Ladd and Ruby (1999) assert that ‘in the Chinese education system, the teacher is the final authority.’ Research students in Australia are expected to think independently, creatively and laterally and to share and discuss their thoughts with their supervisors. Students from the Chinese education system are expected to accept the authority of their supervisors and in turn expect detailed instructions and frequent checking on their progress.

Four manifestations of cross-cultural issues at the start of candidature There are some features of Australian academic culture which the Chinese candidate will find strange. An

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power distance discussion above, Professor Ingleby example of ‘normal’Australian behaviour that a Chinese and Dr Chung are seen as Professors and Drs, holders student will find strange is the supervisor or academic of powerful positions rather than first name intimates. leader as barbecue host. But there are other features of After numerous requests some may settle for Professor Australian academic culture which the Chinese canRichard or Dr Mona but Richard is only likely to be didate will find confronting. Obviously these are not reached with any level of personal comfort about 10 watertight mutually exclusive categories, and probyears after first association or graduation. To insist on ably are more accurately typified as being points on a the first name may result in discomfort and the use of continuum. But we distinguish the two on the dimenno name at all. When writsion of the extent to which ing an email or a letter, the the Chinese candidate can ... a Chinese candidate may actually feel salutation ‘Dear Richard’ is accommodate the feature uncomfortable and compromised, rather easier because it is less conof Australian culture within than reassured, by the imposition of fronting. In general, Chitheir own world picture. familiarity. nese students will be more We should also note by comfortable if confrontaway of introduction to the tional behaviour is avoided. following sections that In the authors’ view, to force a student to address the Chinese PhD candidates are less likely than Australsupervisor by a first name achieves no real academic ian PhD candidates to have a pre-existing relationship benefit. It is better to leave the student to be comfortwith their supervisor or supervisory panel because it is able with whatever they want to do. more likely that the domestic candidate will have ‘come through the ranks’ of undergraduate and/or honours Confrontational behaviour 2: the candidature programmes.This means that the first meeting between as a partnership the Chinese candidate and the Australian supervisor will be relatively more important than the equivalent meeting at the start of a domestic candidature. Confrontational behaviour 1: names If a domestic PhD candidate addressed one of the coauthors of this paper as ‘Professor Ingleby’, his typical response would be to the effect of ‘Richard’s fine’ with an attempt to put the nervously deferential candidate at ease with some light hearted comment along the lines of ‘people only use ‘Professor’ when I’m in trouble.’ For those domestic PhD candidates who did not start off with the first name this would be an innocuous interaction. So if an Australian candidate used ‘Professor’ on a second occasion, a raised eyebrow or a smile might be enough to make the point that the formality was unnecessary. But a Chinese candidate may actually feel uncomfortable and compromised, rather than reassured, by the imposition of familiarity. For Chinese candidates the situation is more complicated on two dimensions.The first is that names themselves are different in China. In China names are shorter and the surname comes first. The other author of this paper’s Chinese name is Chung Mo. Two syllables are typical of Chinese names. For Chinese candidates, English names are lengthy and difficult to remember. Professor is easier than Richard (or is it Ingleby?). The second dimension is that, by reason of the vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

The power distance concepts go beyond the use of names. Typically, an Australian supervisor might start (or even precede) the supervision process by discussing the candidature in terms of a joint venture between two colleagues. These discussions might well include comments by the supervisor to the effect that the candidate will soon become the specialist in the area of the thesis, and that their specialist knowledge should outstrip that of the supervisor within a matter of months. The domestic candidate might see such comments as challenging in an intellectual sense and perhaps even as flattering in a personal sense. But it is unlikely that a domestic candidate will be discomforted by the concept of their PhD candidature as their transition from comparative novice to comparative expert. For a Chinese PhD candidate, a discussion in such terms challenges their assumptions about the authority of the supervisor in a very confronting manner. It should also be noted that the Chinese PhD candidate’s acceptance of the authority of their supervisor is capable of being exploited by unscrupulous supervisors.The inclusion of the supervisor on the list of authors and even the supervisor publishing a PhD student’s research without the student’s name can be common in some Chinese universities. Vulnerability to unscrupulous supervisors is a cultural challenge of the supervisor student relationship (Trompenaars, 1993).

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The supervisor’s comment that ‘I am moving house this weekend’ or ‘I would like to go out this weekend but we can’t take our children’ will be taken by the Chinese candidate not only as a request for assistance, but also as a request for assistance where offers of help are anticipated and the non-offering of help will be criticised. There is hardly room here to list the possibilities of exploitation and neither is such a list necessary to make the point. The domestic candidate is far more likely to have the self-confidence to decline the ‘opportunity’ to provide assistance in the supervisor’s home or to meet the urgent need to provide 10 hours per week of tutorials in Biology 101. In order to deal with such issues, two strategies are available. The first is the use of group sessions so that groups of students can discuss issues such as: • Understanding instructions. • Engaging in debate. • How to understand each other’s communication styles and messages. In general Chinese students are willing to learn new ways and adapt. Adjusting to a different education system is a challenge in which they will allow themselves to be engaged. A second and more ambitious strategy in relation to these and other issues is for Australian universities to make pre-departure cross-cultural training available.The relationship with the supervisor should be the focal point of pre-departure training for Chinese candidates. The concepts of Australian academic culture need to be explained thoroughly and demonstrated using a role play concept with appropriate trainers. The simulation of an Australian supervisor supervising a Chinese student will be more successful if the role of the Chinese student is played by an individual of observable success (Chung, 2008). For the Chinese students, advice from a fellow Chinese (who belongs to the insider group) is more likely to be received as insightful and intelligent, especially if such a person is able to clearly distinguish the differences and explain the meaning of the differences between Chinese and Australian culture. Such predeparture training should be linked to student services and include follow-up services in relation to welfare and academic matters.This will better prepare students and provide tracking mechanisms to monitor progress. Confrontational behaviour 3: the candidate and the critical approach The confrontational nature of statements about the candidature as a partnership will be exacerbated for

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the Chinese candidate if the supervisor requires the candidate to generate a critical approach. Typically, a supervisor might try to urge a PhD candidate into the process of independent critical thought by requiring them to prepare a review of a published or draft article with comments to the effect of: ‘Read this and tell me what you think could have been done better’ or ‘Tell me why this is wrong?’ or even just ‘What do you think about this?’ The domestic candidate, even if they found the task difficult, would typically understand the purpose of the exercise and realise that the supervisor was directing them to the challenge of generating their own ideas and critical approach. For the Chinese candidate, the generation of the critical approach is not a natural process.The concept of advances in understanding being achieved by challenges to accepted paradigms is inconsistent with both the philosophical and pedagogical heritage of the candidate. A Chinese candidate might interpret the ‘What do you think?’ questions as a test of their knowledge or competence.The answer to ‘Tell me why this is wrong’ can be extremely hard if there is nothing wrong in any absolute sense but the supervisor is testing the candidate’s capacity for debate. The Chinese candidate might be concerned that what they think is wrong is different from what the supervisor thinks is wrong. But simply to say ‘I can’t see what’s wrong with it’ may indicate a lack of knowledge which will cause the supervisor to think that the student is not good enough; which in turn gives rise to the candidate’s concerns about their future relationship. Therefore the Chinese candidate may see the requirement of a critical approach as confronting and potentially causing a loss of face. Or if the candidate is exceptionally bright, and sees an angle that the supervisor has not seen, they might be concerned about causing a face losing situation for the supervisor. One strategy to handle this situation is to avoid the questions or suggest that the candidate can take the question and paper away and answer them later. This issue requires long-term practice and training.Again the predeparture training could explain the critical approach and what supervisors really mean when they ask these questions. The supervisor must also ensure that instructions are understood clearly. ‘Yes’ does not necessarily mean ‘Yes, I understand and I will do what you ask me.’This is a delicate situation to handle because a confrontational approach such as ‘Do you understand my question?’ will be taken as ‘Your English is not good

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enough.’ The question ‘Do you understand my question?’ might provoke ‘My English is very bad, I will try’. Difficulties in communication are accentuated by the fact that Chinese use the word ‘yes’ differently from English speaking people. One reason is a linguistic one that there is no generalised use of the word ‘yes’ as much as it is in English. Two different Chinese words are translated to yes even though one confirms a statement having been made and another confirms the veracity of the statement.There are at least 5 meanings which a Chinese student will express in the word ‘yes’ so as to avoid confrontation in a situation. i. ‘I heard the sound you just made.’ ii. ‘I am still here.’ iii. ‘I can’t say no because that is too rude and blunt. I will only say yes so you don’t lose face.’ iv. ‘To keep harmony I will say yes. I will work out whether I really have to do as I say or not later.’ v. ‘I agree with you. I will do this. I agree to comply. Etc.’ The challenge for an Australian/Western supervisor is that the meeting is inconclusive unless they can determine which yes the candidate really meant. It is impossible to judge how effective the meeting is. This in turn has an impact on a very important factor of a PhD candidature, the time frame.This is because while the supervisor thought a plan was drawn and agreed, from the candidate’s perspective, there was nothing set in concrete. This lessens the supervisor’s control on the length of the PhD candidature. Confrontational behaviour 4: communication of expected standards It is not unusual in the early stages of a PhD candidature for a supervisor to set the candidate a task which is directed in some way to using the critical approach to generate a properly formulated research proposal. For example: ‘Read this paper and give me 500 words about how you would use the writer’s methodology in relation to your area of interest’ or ‘Read this paper and tell me in 250 words the most important question that it does not answer.’ These tasks are not easy. They are not meant to be easy. They are the sorts of tasks which are devised to stretch and exhort the candidate and to monitor their intellectual development towards the generation of the sort of research question that can sustain a successful doctoral candidature. Possible responses to these tasks will lead to differential responses from the domestic and the Chinese candidate. The candidate may not understand what is required; or they understand but lack the capacity vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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to fulfil the request. Whereas the domestic student might approach the supervisor and confess to being all at sea with a statement such as: ‘I couldn’t read that paper without holding a dictionary in the other hand’, the Chinese student’s concept of face will make them less likely to volunteer the statement that they cannot do what they are required to do. The Chinese student might seek solutions from Google to find what others have written and confirm their thinking.This would be seen as a safer way of handling the situation than losing face by providing something of poor quality or that is simply just wrong. Chinese students would classify anything contrary to established authority as wrong. The concept of face also means that the Chinese student will respond less positively to criticism.The Western student might see it as an inevitable part of the process that their first written efforts are drowned in a sea of red ink and quasi-expletives. Some Western students might even feel reassured by evidence that their supervisor is being so diligent. But the Chinese student will see the supervisor’s adverse reaction in a far more personal light.This could easily lead to tears and admissions of criticism as correct but complaints about the manner in which the criticism was presented. One way to ameliorate this problem for supervisors who provide plenty of written feedback is to give the candidate the opportunity to read it first quietly. If the candidate is given the paper then the supervisor should make an excuse to leave for a few minutes. The excuse should not be the need for a cup of tea because the candidate will take this as a request for them to make the tea. The adverse reaction of the supervisor to the candidate’s written work is likely to be influenced by the fact that the supervisor and the candidate have different writing styles. In a high context culture, such as the Chinese (Hall, 1976) the writer (or speaker) uses lots of words and builds up gradually to the point that is sought to be made. In low context culture the emphasis is on economy and precision of expression.The Australian supervisor comes from a low context culture and because of this may well regard the high context Chinese candidate’s written expression as verbose, indirect and therefore immature. The Chinese candidate will have difficulty understanding the basis on which this assessment is made, because of the cultural background to the assessment. Further, because of the issue of face, they will respond more adversely to the assessment than the supervisor might intend. Pre-departure training will be very useful here by explaining the differences between the language of

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high context culture and the language of low context culture. This theory can be used to point out that differences of communication style result in Chinese candidates writing in a high context way. The supervisors should acknowledge that it will take time to convert from writing in a high context style to a low context style. The face issue will also prevent students from seeking help even though they realise they need it. Previous research shows that students are more likely to attend additional workshops if they perceive these workshops as being directed to more elite students (Chung, Kelliher, & Smith, 2006) and for their attendance to be required by institutional fiat rather than necessitated by their personal weakness.

References

Concluding comments

Guirdham, M 1999, Communicating across Cultures. Hampshire: MacMillan Business.

The issues in the four preceding sections are obviously compounded by their relationship with each other. A Chinese student will respect the supervisor by not disagreeing with anything so as to give the supervisor face. Even if the student has a different opinion they will not disagree with the supervisor. Equally, if the supervisor gives the student a straightforward statement that their work is unworthy, the student will feel that they have lost face. The student will expect the supervisor to preserve the student’s face by demonstrating the poor quality of work in a different way, perhaps by demonstrating a way of writing differently. Correspondingly, when the student advances in their candidature, they would never expect to eclipse the supervisor in public because this would make the supervisor ‘lose face’. The overall message we seek to communicate to the academic community is that the issues that we have discussed will not go away if they are ignored. Our argument is that better preparation of candidates and supervisors, together with embedded policies of mandatory directions directing the use of support services will increase the chances of a successful start to candidature. Richard Ingleby is a member of the Victorian Bar and a visiting professor at North China University of Technology, Beijing, China. Mona Chung is a lecturer in international business at Deakin University, Victoria, Australia.

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Broadbear, J 2003, ‘Essential Elements of Lessons Designed to Promote Critical Thinking’, The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 3(3), 1-8. Chung, M 2008, Shanghaied: Why Foster’s Could Not Survive China. Melbourne: Heidelberg Press. Chung, M, Kelliher, M & Smith, W 2006, December, ‘Managing Academic Support for International Students: The Appropriateness of a Learning Support Unit in an Australian Tertiary Institution’. Paper presented at the ISANA conference, Sydney. DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) 2008, Tourism and International Students. Fan, Y 2000, A Classification of Chinese Culture. Cross Cultural Management, 7(2), 3-10. Gesteland, RR 1999, Cross-Cultural Business Behaviour: Marketing, Negotiation and Managing across Cultures. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.

Hall, ET 1976, Beyond Culture. New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday & Company Inc. Hanna, MS & Wilson, GL 1998, Communicating in Business and Professional Settings, 4th ed., Singapore: McGraw-Hill International Editions. Healy, G 2009, ‘$15bn Export Earnings Claim Doubt’, The Australian. Hofstede, G 2001, Culture’s Consequences, 2nd ed., Thousand Oaks: Sage Publication. Kirkbride, P, Tang, SFY & Westwood, RI 1991, ‘Chinese Conflict Preferences and Negotiating Behaviour: Cultural and Psychological Influences. Organization Studies, 12(3), 365-386. Kutieleh, S, Egege, S & Morgan, D 2003, November 24-25, ‘To Stay or Not to Stay: Factors Affecting International and Indigenous Students’ Decisions to Persist with University Study and the Implications for Support Services’, Paper presented at the Language & Academic Skills National Conference, Adelaide. Ladd, P & Ruby, KR 1999, ‘Learning Styles and Adjustment Issues of International Students’, Journal of Education for Business, 74(6), 363-367. Lewicki, RJ, Saunders, DM, Minton, JW & Barry, B 2003, Negotiation, Readings, Exercises, and Cases, 4th ed., New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin. Lloyd, B & Trompenaars, F 1993, ‘Culture and Change: Conflict or Consensus?’, Leadership and Organisation Development Journal, 14(6), 17. Owens, R 2007, ‘Valuing International Research Candidates’, in Denholm, C & Evans, T (eds), Supervising Doctorates Downunder. Melbourne: ACER Press. Ting-Toomey, S 1999, Communicating across Cultures. USA: The Guilford Press. Trompenaars, F 1993, Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Cultural Diversity in Business. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing Ltd. Tse, DK, Belk, RW & Zhan, N 1988, ‘Learning to Consume: A Longitudinal and Cross-Cultural Context Analysis of Print Advertisements from Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China and Taiwan’, Journal of Consumer Research. Varga-Atkins, TA & Ashcroft, L 2004, ‘Information Skills of Undergraduate Business Students - a Comparison of UK and International Students’, Library Management, 25(1/2), 39-55. Yap, C 1997, Teaching Overseas Students: The Case of Introductory Accounting.

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Diversity in Australian higher education An empirical analysis Leo Goedegebuure Centre for Higher Education Management and Policy, University of New England, Armidale, NSW and LH Martin Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Management, University of Melbourne

Hamish Coates Australian Council for Educational Research, Melbourne

Jeannet van der Lee Centre for Higher Education Management and Policy, University of New England

V Lynn Meek LH Martin Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Management, University of Melbourne

The concept of diversity has been part of the Australian government’s higher education agenda for several years, but empirical studies on the actual state of diversity in the sector are limited. This situation raises questions regarding the factual basis for the policy claims made. With this in mind, this paper seeks to assess the degree of diversity within the Australian higher education sector through an analysis of the perceptions, aspirations and reported activities of Australian academics in terms of their teaching, research and community service. Using data collected in the 2007 international Changing Nature of the Academic Profession survey, we are able to cautiously conclude that some diversity appears to exist, however not to the extent one might expect given the importance placed on institutional groupings in the Australian higher education debate.

Introduction The conservative Federal Government in power prior to 2007 identified diversity as a key issue in its 2002 review of the system (see Department of Education Science and Training 2002) and subsequently, through its legislation on National Protocols (see Ministerial Council on Education Employment Training and Youth Affairs, 2006) sought to influence institutional diversity by accommodating the establishment of private and vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

specialised higher education providers. The present Labor Government, elected in 2007, also placed diversity at the political forefront in its announcement of the Review of Australian Higher Education in 2008. It claims the sector needs greater diversity to meet its ambitious socio-economic objectives and that ‘mission-specific funding of universities in order to recognise and promote greater diversity’ (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 2008, p. 57) should be implemented through the use

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of compacts (see Group of Eight, 2008). Yet, empirical studies on the actual state of diversity in the sector are limited, which raises the question of the basis for policy claims made. The Australian higher education sector is characterised by a number of self-defined and commonly used institutional groupings that supposedly reflect different orientations in these three basic activities. There are three self-defined groups, namely the Group of Eight (which ‘represents Australia’s leading universities’), the Innovative Research Universities (which ‘brings together seven world class universities who share common aims, standards and values’), and the Australian Technology Network of Universities (an ‘influential alliance of five distinctive and prominent Australian universities located in each mainland State’). Two additional informal groupings are frequently used, namely the New Generation Universities (institutions that arose out of the late 1980s merger processes) and the Regional Universities (institutions with an obvious regional location). However, the extent to which these groupings in reality reflect diversity is open to empirical testing. Rather than looking at commonly used indicators that relate to these groupings such as mission, course profiles, disciplinary structures, types of students, we have adopted a different methodology to address the question of diversity. We attempt to determine to what extent this typology is supported by an analysis of the perceptions, aspirations and reported activities of academics in teaching, research and community service. Data for this analysis were gathered in 2007 for the Changing Nature of the Academic Profession (CAP) project, an international comparative survey involving about 20 countries, with the aim of determining the nature and extent of the changes experienced by the academic profession. Subsequently, this will enable us to formulate some conclusions about the degree of diversity in the Australian system.

Insights from previous empirical studies Although much has been written about the diversity of the Australian higher education system, empirical studies on the subject are scant. An early study was undertaken by Lysons in the mid 1980s, with results published in 1990 (Lysons, 1990). Based on an organisational effectiveness taxonomy, he concluded that the Australian system prior to the creation of the Unified National System through the so-called Dawkins

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reforms consisted of four discrete groups serving separate domains. The groups were: larger/older universities, smaller/younger universities, institutes of technology, and colleges of advanced education. With the demise of the binary system in the early 1990s, the latter group of institutions ceased to exist and was subsumed in either newly merged universities or became part of existing universities through merger (Meek & Goedegebuure, 1989). Combining the Lysons dataset with the survey results of Meek & Goedegebuure, the existence of four types of institution in the postmerger system was reconfirmed (Goedegebuure et al., 1993), with the smaller/younger group relabelled as ‘universities on the social and geographical fringe of the higher education system’ and the colleges as ‘CAE combinations redesignated as universities’ (Goedegebuure et al., 1993 p. 406). Subsequent analyses by Huisman (2000) to an extent reconfirm the existence of groups, although some qualifications are in order. Using a cluster analysis with 39 variables (1996 data) he not only highlighted broad clusters of institutions in line with the earlier analyses, he also demonstrated the sensitivity of the data to different methods of analysis, which, one could argue, most probably reflects the post-merger turbulence at that time. Yet, even then, Huisman noted that on an international scale Australia features as the least diverse system when compared with Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Huisman et al. (2007) repeated this analysis using an updated dataset and Huisman’s earlier findings were confirmed. More important for our purposes, however, their longitudinal analysis, using datasets from 1980, 1985, 1990, 1996, 2000 and 2004, clearly indicates a decrease in diversity in the Australian system. One can criticise the above studies to the extent that they use ‘system level’ data such as institutional size, forms of institutional control, disciplines offered, type of degrees awarded, and modes of study offered. We contend that indicators of this type ‘hide’ what is really happening within the walls of institutions. If one looks deep enough and is sufficiently sensitive, diversity can always be found (see Clark, 1996). But is that a meaningful input into the policy debate? The notion identified above of decreasing diversity fits the hypothesis that the more institutions are confronted with a similar policy environment that does not differentiate in terms of the incentives it provides, the more similar institutions will become. This occurs because they all react in the same way to the limited set of incentives

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in the actual population, 22.5 compared to 14.3 per provided. Goedegebuure et al. (2009) argue that such a cent were at Australian Technology Network (ATN) policy environment has been characteristic for Australuniversities, 17.1 compared to 10.9 per cent were at ian higher education during the Howard era. regional institutions, and 17.9 compared to 25.3 per In an attempt to address the issue of ‘type of indicacent were at suburban institutions. tor’ for our current analysis we focus instead on what Responses were analysed in terms of four broad dishas been happening within our institutions by looking ciplinary groupings, and we found that 28.7 per cent at what academics themselves consider important.The of the sample worked in science, computing, engineerunderlying assumption, obviously, is that what they ing, agriculture or architecture, 13.9 per cent in busiconsider important with respect to teaching, research ness, law and economics, 33.4 per cent in humanities, and community service will affect how they behave, arts and education, and 24.4 per cent worked in health. and that this has an impact on the ‘products’ produced These percentages are close to the actual distribution by their institutions. This is an assumption shared by of Australian academics over the four groupings. others. Coaldrake and Stedman (1999, p. 1) state that, By level, associate lecturers accounted for 14.3 per ‘The West Review of Higher Education Financing and cent of the sample, lecturers 37.6 per cent, senior lecPolicy focused principally on structural and financial turers 24.9 per cent, associate professors 12.2 per cent matters, and argued that diversity in the sector might and professors 10.6 per be encouraged by changcent. Again, these percenting funding mechanisms. In Research and teaching are the fundamentals ages are very close to the doing so, it left unanswered of academic life. ... Over the last 30 years, actual group sizes found the question of how instituthe preferences of Australian academics across Australian universitional change might come for teaching or research have change ties. about without change in considerably. We label this aspirational In terms of length of the work practices and diversity. appointment, 27.4 per cent aspirations of university of the sample had been staff.’ In our empirical analyin the higher education sis, we also will relate our sector for less than five years, 48.8 per cent for 6 to 20 findings to earlier and comparable studies undertaken years, and 23.9 per cent for more than 20 years. in Australia. This will enable us to provide an indicaWhile virtually no (0.2 per cent) respondents were tion of the state of diversity in 2007 as well as a more 25 years of age or younger, 43.1 per cent were between historical analysis of diversity from the point of view of 26 and 45, and 55.3 per cent were between 46 and 65. academics working within the system. Just 1.4 per cent were older than 65.The proportion of male and female respondents was balanced (49.5:50.5) Empirical foundations of the current study compared with 59.1:40.9 in the actual population. The Australian CAP survey was conducted in late 2007 to assess characteristics of academic staff and their Expectations and aspirations: the desires work. The survey involved 21 of Australia’s 39 uniof Australian academics versities, and produced one of the most robust conAspirational diversity – research versus temporary perspectives on the nature and context of teaching academic work in the country. Broadly speaking, the target population for the survey were academic staff at Table A institutions, excluding adjunct, casual/sessional and honorary roles as well as senior university executive staff (for further details on the sampling methodology and distribution see Coates et al., 2008). A total of 1252 valid responses were received and the secured sample is representative of the population across a number of variables. For example, 42.6 per cent were from Group of Eight (Go8) institutions when compared with 49.5 per cent vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

Research and teaching are the fundamentals of academic life.They can be combined in various ways, from teaching- and research-only to particular mixes of the two, leading to diversity in academic work and hence to diversity in the nature and outputs of higher education institutions. Over the last 30 years, the preferences of Australian academics for teaching or research have change considerably.We label this aspirational diversity. The first reported study was the 1978 SERVAAC (Social and Educational Role and values of Australian

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primary’ interest in teaching compared to Go8 staff Academics) study (see Bowden & Anwyl, 1983) and (shorthand for the two ‘In both, but leaning towards…’ shows a preference of research over teaching (11 per answering categories), as shown in Figure 1. Concent ‘mainly in research’, 38 per cent ‘both, leaning to versely staff at Go8 universities report a greater interest research’, 26 per cent ‘equally in both’, 19 per cent in research compared with those at other institutions. ‘both, leaning to teaching’ and 6 per cent ‘mainly in The proportion of staff with a non-primary interest in teaching’). research is relatively constant across institution types. The early 1990s’ Carnegie survey ‘… found two disPositional diversity is important, stratifying academtinctive groupings of academics: those who were oriics’ relative interests in research and teaching almost ented towards teaching and those who were oriented as much as their institution (see Figure 2). Intertowards research, with roughly equal numbers in each est in teaching peaks with lecturers and declines to group’ (Gottlieb & Keith 1997 in Coaldrake & Stedman, almost nothing for professors. Academics’ predilection 1999, p. 22). This was confirmed by the work of McIntowards research follows a similar trend. Interestingly, nis (1996, p. 114), who found that ‘Twenty-six per cent declared non-primary interest in research grows by of the sample were clearly oriented towards teaching rank but primary interest declines beyond associate and expressed little or no interest in research.A similar lecturer, rising sharply for professors.As rank increases, proportion, 28 per cent, saw themselves as researchaccording to these figures, a shift in orientation from ers’.A similar 1999 study by McInnis (1999, p. 6) found teaching to research is indicated. that a ‘clear majority of academics profess an interest Read together, the results suggest that many academin both activities. However, while 42 per cent are priics express a primary interest in research, although marily interested in research, only 21 per cent are prithose at non-Go8 universities are either more intermarily interested in teaching. Importantly, 48 per cent ested in, or resigned to, teaching. Of course, our results do not have a stronger interest in teaching as a career do not distinguish between these latter alternatives, interest (17 per cent strongly disagree on this term). but they do bring out a difference across the types of Considerably fewer are negative about research as a universities as well as across positions. career interest’. Our 2007 CAP survey shows that 29 per cent are primarily interested in research, 40 per cent in both Career aspirations and career planning teaching and research but leaning towards research, 23 per cent in both but leaning towards teaching, and 7 The 2007 CAP results show that staff express varyper cent primarily in teaching (see Figure1).This leads ing aspirations in terms of their own careers, and that us to the conclusion that the preferences of academthese vary across institutional types (see Figure 3). ics have certainly changed since 1978, and in a rather Academics at regional institutions are more likely than circular manner. others to consider seeking a management position in Diversity in Australian higher education: an empirical analysis A more detailed analysis of the 2007 data shows that their own institution, or a position in another higher staff at non-Go8 institutions do express a greater ‘noneducation institution. Along with academics in Go8 60 50 Primarily in teaching

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Figure 4. Career aspirations by length of employment vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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position in your higher than position Table in another1. Estimated positionaverage in higher education/ considered anyactivities, hours per week spent onmaking major institutions, they are more likely education/research higher education/ another country research institutes major changes insession reported by full-time academic staff when classes are in others to consider seeking a position institution research institution my job within the country 1977* Williams 1992~ 1993* 1999^ 2007 in another country. Staff at suburban Carnegie McInnis, McInnis CAPinstitutions are less likely than others Figure 3. Career aspirations by institutional grouping Powles & survey to have considered making any major Anwyl changes in their job. CAE UNI UNS Our survey results also suggest that Teaching 29.4 23.3 21.8 25.3 24.5 18.3 the career aspirations of academics 50 (65.9%) (51.3%) (43.1%) (53.0%) (49.8%) (36.1%) change as their length of employment Research 3.8 (8.5) 11.5 13.3 10.1 13.5 14.6 in higher education increases (see 40 (25.3%) (26.3%) (21.2%) (27.3%) (28.8%) Figure 4). Length of service is associPer cent

30 less Administra8.0 7.0 8.4 6.4 5 years or7.7 9.5 ated with a greater likelihood of seektion 6 to 20 years (17.9%) (15.4%) (16.6%) (13.4%) (15.7%) (18.7%) ing a management position, but less 20 20 years Community 2.0 1.9 4.2 1.8 More than1.8 4.4 likelihood of seeking a position outService (4.4%) (4.2%) (8.3%) (3.7%) (3.7%) (8.6%) side Australia,10 beyond higher educaOther 1.4 1.7 2.9 1.1 1.7 3.9 tion or, most generally, of making any 0 activities (3.1%) (3.7%) (5.7%) (8.5%) (3.5%) (7.8%) major changes in their job. To a management To an academic To an academic To work outside No, I have not Total hours 45.4 considered 50.6 making any 47.7 49.3 50.6 In 2007, the position average of in another in yournumber higher position position in 44.6 higher education/ higher education/ another country research institutes major changes in hours worked byeducation/research persons employed Sources: * McInnis (1996, p. 109); ~ Sheehan et al. (1996, p. 40); ^ McInnis (1999, p. 20). institution research institution my job ‘Thesis Supervision’ was allocated as a teaching activity and ‘Consultancy’ as a research activity. full-time across the whole of the within Aus-the country tralian workforce per week was 39.4 Figure 4. Career aspirations by length of employment Table 1 shows the average number of hours worked hours (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). Based on according to various studies. As is clearly illustrated, the CAP data, the academic workforce puts in substanthe average number of hours worked per week when tially more hours: 50.6 hours per week for academics classes are in session has increased by around 5 hours when classes are in session and 49.6 hours per week (about 10 per cent) since 1977. Interestingly, though, when classes are out of session. This minimal differthere has been no increase in working hours reported ence in hours worked between teaching and nonif we compare the 2007 study to the 1992 Carnegie teaching times corresponds to the situation found study, despite a variety of claims of overload, pressures some 10 years ago (McInnis, 1996). ‘…whereas in the and the like. Over the full 30 year period the average 1970s there was generally a substantial drop in worknumber of hours dedicated to teaching has decreased load over the summer break, somewhere in the order by 5 hours, while the hours for research has increased of 5 to 7 hours per week (McInnis 1990 in McInnis, by about 3 hours, with administration and service by 1996, p. 110). 60

Hours per week

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45 Associate Lecturer

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Figure 5. Hours per week per academic period

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tional types. Another outcome is that administration, about 2.5 hours per week.Yet, if we compare the early 0 defined quite explicitly as intra-institutional activiCarnegie with the 2007 survey, in 15 yearsResearch the only Teaching Service Administration Other ties, occupies about twice the amount of staff time significant change has been the decrease in hours dedFigure 7. Hours per week by activity and university grouping, outside teaching periods as community service across all university types (see icated to teaching which becomes more pronounced Figure 6). if we look at the percentage figures. 25 by Figures 5 to 11 that distribIn non-teaching periods, the distribution of work Table 1 is followed hours per week changes markedly by institutional type ute the working week according to teaching/non T (see Figure 7). Staff from all institutional types generteaching periods, and by university grouping, length of 20 5 years or less ally spend more time on research outside teaching employment and level of position. 6 to 20 years periods, with Go8 staff reporting significantly more A more detailed analysis of the CAP-data shows More than 20 years 15 hours spent on research during this time. Hours spent that reported working hours vary by type of instituon service activities remains low. tion, length of service, role and field of education. Staff The number of years spent in academia does not at Go8 institutions10report working around an hour influence hours per week spent in various activities per week more than colleagues at other institutions. during teaching periods. Staff who have been tenured On average, staff at all institutions report working for longer periods of time spend longer in administrafor around an hour5 more during teaching than nontion and less time teaching, but the effects are slight, as teaching periods. However hours worked per week shown in Figure 8. varies notably by position. While associate lecturers 0 Teaching Research Service Administration Other The effects are stronger during non-teaching periods report working for around 46 hours per week, profes(Figure 9). Most notably, staff reporting fewer than five sors work for around 58 hours (see Figure 5). ConfiFigure 8. Hours per week by activity and length of employment, in teaching periods years of service declare more hours on research while, dence bands have been added to the following figures conversely, there is a linear relationship between servto facilitate interpretation of statistical significance. ice and time spent on administration. Overlap between bands implies that the difference in Diversity appears manifest in the time allocations means may not be statistically significant. made by staff across ranks, as shown in Figure 11. Looking beyond hours worked, it is informative Associate lecturers and professors report spending the to consider what academics do in light of their aspimost time on research, both during and out of teaching rations. Academic life is stratified into teaching and periods. While associate lecturers may be bootstrapnon-teaching periods, and it is helpful to analyse ping their research careers, professors are consolidatworkflow in this light. Go8 staff report spending less ing their contribution affirming the lecturing role as time teaching during teaching periods and relatively most strongly focused on teaching. more time researching than staff at other institu30

25

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Hours per week

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25 Associate Lecturer Lecturer

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Writing academic Answering calls papers that for proposals contain research or writing results or research findings grants

Managing research contracts and budgets

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Consultancies with external organisations Associate Lecturer Lecturer Senior Lecturer

Figure 13. Engagement in key research by activity by role and academic role

Associate Professor Professor

Per cent

Per cent

80 ties than their counterparts at other institutions, Level of appointment is also correlated with particiwhich correlates with the greater emphasis placed pation in community service and institutional adminGo8 70 60 on research at these Go8 institutions. Figure 13 istration. In general, professors spend around 15 hours ATN shows that research activity varies by role, with an per week60on administration, out of a total of around Regional increase in rank associated with greater engagement 60 hours. 40 Suburban 50 in supervision, paper and grant writing, project manBroadly, it appears that staff preference for research agement, and consultancies. Figure 12 shows that, plays out 40 in the20number of hours per week they devote quite surprisingly given the policy rhetoric and to particular activities. Non-teaching periods in partic30 institutional mission statements, overall technology ular play an important role in balancing activities with 0 20 Preparing & Supervising a Writing academic Answering calls Managing Purchasing or Consultancies transfer is the least common activity, undertaken by aspirations, providing opportunities for greater particiconducting research team papers that for proposals research selecting with external less than a fifth of all staff. There is a surprising lack pation in 10 research. experiments, or graduate contain research or writing contracts equipment and organisations inquiries etc. research or researchof diversity and budgets in this research area across institutional types Looking more closely at participation inresults various assistants findings grants supplies 0 and, asBusiness Figure 13 shows, academicsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; work roles. This research activities, it can be seen that, not surprisYour own Public research Government firms Private not-for-profit corresponds with the low level ingly, writing academic papers and grants are the institution funding agencies entities or industry foundations/agencies Figure 13. Engagement in key research by activity by role and academic roleof hours invested in service activities. most common activities. As illustrated by Figure 12, 14. research Funding by source and university grouping Go8 staff report doing moreFigure of most activiGo8

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Per cent

50 40 30 20 10 0 Your own institution

Public research funding agencies

Government entities

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Figure 14. Funding by source and university grouping

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Diverse achievements

rest uneasily with the trend observable in Australian higher education over the last decades, with increasing student numbers particularly at the undergraduate Aspirations and activities need to be related to level. If we look at rank, professors express a marked achievements. Ideally such analysis would conpreference for research over teaching, and associate sider various dimensions of accomplishment such lecturers, who many would argue are the new fuel in as quality, impact and possibly productivity, and the system, have a clear preference for research over cover research, service and teaching. The Changing teaching. One explanation for this is the entry level Academic Profession project focused on research requirements for academia in Australia which preoutputs, reflecting the international availability of dominantly require a PhD for the ‘lower’ positions. metrics more generally. Doctoral training in Australia still is very much geared As public funding declines, securing funds from towards the traditional conceptions of research, and other sources is an important input for academic work. this is the culture PhD holders subsequently bring to But it also reflects an important outcome. In particular, the job. Whether this is what Australian higher educathe source of funding says much about the audience tion needs in terms of students and employers’ expecand implications for academic work. The CAP-data tations is an entirely different matter. indicates variation in both the sources and quantum Interestingly, however, of funding. Figure 14 shows while academics aspire to that staff at Go8 institutions For many months of the year, academics do research, this aspiration secure proportionately less spend most of their time teaching, and is not reflected in what funding from their own nearly as much time doing administration dominates their work and institutions than do staff at as research. hence their likely contribuother institutions, but more tion. For many months of from public research agenthe year, academics spend cies and national and intermost of their time teaching, and nearly as much time national organisations. doing administration as research. There is an increase In terms of production, academics produce between in research during non-teaching periods, particularly at 4 and 17 academic papers or books every three Go8 institutions, but administration remains a substanyears, which is the most common type of output. The tial component of the academic workload. Institutional reported number depends on institutional grouping, grouping, position and length of service mediate acawith Go8 staff averaging nine (three per year) and demics’ contributions in these areas. Participation in staff at others averaging around seven (around two community service is relatively low across the board. per year). Conference presentation is the next most But the differences do not appear as great as people’s common activity, followed by the production of conaspirations would suggest. sultancy reports and articles for the media. The nature of academic work means that achievements are always harder to measure than aspirations Discussion or engagements. In terms of research output, of all measured activities, academics report most investment Previous empirical studies suggest a decrease in in the preparation of academic papers, and second in institutional diversity in Australian higher education. the preparation of proposals and submissions. Funding Recent data in part confirm this conclusion, but paint and publishing are of course central to all research. But a more nuanced picture. By examining links between other activities count too, and appear to be less part of aspirations, activities and achievements, we have Australian academics’ work lives. While it plays a funhighlighted aspects of the work that academics do, damental role in bringing research into practice, for which forms the backbone of the contribution of instance, participation in technology transfer is done their institutions. by only a few academics.There is some variation across In terms of the aspirations of academic staff there is university groupings, with Go8 staff reporting greater little evidence of diversity. Australian academics show production of research than others. In line with puba remarkable preference for research over teaching. lished finance statistics, Go8 staff also report securing This is true across both institutional groupings and more funding from public sources than staff at other is evident in longitudinal analysis. These aspirations vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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institutions. However, our empirical analyses do not support the notion of significant diversity across institutional groupings used, again with the exception of the Go8.

Conclusion Our analysis has explored diversity within Australian higher education through the lens of academics’ perceptions of their work. In doing this we have sought to look beyond conventional distinctions and classifications to explore what academics aspire to achieve, undertake and accomplish. Among the many results and themes discussed, four are particularly worthy of emphasis. First, while academics weekly work hours have increased slightly over the last 20 years, the time they give to key activities has remained relatively constant, with the exception of teaching for the time has decreased. Second, academics’ expectations appear to be out of alignment with their reported activities. Most aspire to research, yet many still spend a substantive proportion of their time on teaching and administration. Third, not unsurprisingly, in many areas Go8 institutions differ from others particularly, as expected, in terms of the emphasis given to research. Fourth, from what we can see in our data, research achievements tend to focus on those areas that are underpinned by policy incentives. We might conclude, cautiously, that diversity in academics’ work in terms of their aspirations, perceptions and activity does exist. Our results do not necessarily reflect the common typology of institutional groupings, although Go8 respondents appear to come up as a distinct group due to their perceptions, aspirations and actual activity relating to research. We will not attempt to characterise here what a ‘truly diverse system’ might look like, or to substantiate whether this is a desirable policy objective. But if it implies a network in which institutions respond to and create new opportunities and directions, then our analysis of academic work appears to show that gains so far have been modest. There appears to be a misalignment between aspirations, activities and achievements which suggest that the policy structures that underpin academic work, both institutionally and nationally, require review. To be overly simplistic by way of making the point, current policy structures appear to promote just a few aspects of research within a system that demands many more varied forms of contribution

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and indeed, as appears to be the case, a much greater or complementary emphasis on teaching. If diversity is the goal, we hope our results provide some insights that help shape the design of future thinking and, ultimately, of the policy settings that underpin academics’ work and the contributions to learning and knowledge made by Australian universities. Leo Goedegebuure is an associate professor at the Centre for Higher Education Management and Policy, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia and LH Martin Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Management, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Hamish Coates is a senior researcher at the Australian Council for Educational Research, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Jeannet van der Lee is Senior Research Fellow and Research Project Officer, Centre for Higher Education Management and Policy, University of New England, NSW, Australia. V Lynn Meek is Director of the LH Martin Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Management, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Acknowledgements First, we would like to acknowledge the academics that took the time to respond, some of whom did so with great detail and passion. Second, we are grateful to the team at INCHER-KASSEL (Germany) for their support in coordinating this project and their ongoing work in preparing the international datasets. Finally, we want to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.

References Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008, 4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, Table 1 Work, National Summary, 1997-2007. Retrieved 06 August 2008, from <http:// www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4102.0Main%20Features1 2008?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4102.0&issue=2008&nu m=&view=> Bowden, JA & Anwyl, J 1983, ‘Some characteristics and attitudes of academics in Australian Universities and Colleges of Advanced Education’, Higher Education Research and Development, 2(1), 39-61. Clark, BR 1996, ‘Diversification of Higher Education: Viability and Change’, in Meek, VL, Goedegebuure, L, Kivinen, O & Rinne, R (eds), The Mockers and Mocked: Comparative Perspectives on Differentiation and Diversity in Higher Education, pp. 16-25, New York: Pergamon.

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Coaldrake, P & Stedman, L 1999, Academic Work in the Twenty-first Century: Changing roles and policies. Canberra: DETYA.

Huisman, J 2000, ‘Higher Education Institutions as Different as Chalk and Cheese?’, Higher Education Policy, 13(1), 41-53.

Coates, H, Goedegebuure, L, van der Lee, J & Meek, L 2008, The Australian Academic Profession in 2007: A First Analysis of Results. Centre for Higher Education Management and Policy, University of New England.

Huisman, JL, Meek, VL & Wood, FQ 2007, ‘Institutional diversity in higher education: a cross-national and longitudinal analysis’, Higher Education Quarterly, 61(4), 563-577.

Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations 2007, Appendix 2 - Academic Organisational Unit Group: Current release - Staff 2007: Selected Higher Education Statistics. Retrieved 6 August 2008, from <http://www.dest. gov.au/sectors/higher_education/publications_resources/statistics/publications_higher_education_statistics_collections.htm>

Lysons, AF 1990, ‘Taxonomies of higher educational institutions predicted from organisation climate’, Research in Higher Education, 31(2), 115-128.

Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations 2008, Review of Australian Higher Education, Discussion Paper, June. Canberra: Australian Government. Department of Education Science and Training 2002, Varieties of Excellence: Diversity, Specialisation and Regional Engagement [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 02 December 2006, from <http://www.backingaustraliasfuture.gov.au/ review.htm> Goedegebuure, L, Lysons, A & Meek, L 1993, ‘Diversity in Australian Higher Education?’, Higher Education, 25(4), 395-410. Goedegebuure, LCJ, Hayden, M & Meek, VL 2009, ‘Good governance and Australian higher education: an analysis of a neo-liberal decade’, in Huisman, J (ed.), International Perspectives on the Governance of Higher Education: Alternative Frameworks for Coordination, 145-160, London: Routledge. Group of Eight 2008, Comprehending compacts and higher education reform: A discussion paper, Draft - 31 January 2008. Canberra: Go8.

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McInnis, C 1996, ‘Change and diversity in the work patterns of Australian academics’, Higher Education Management, 8(2), 105-117. McInnis, C 1999, The work roles of academics in Australian Universities. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Meek, VL & Goedegebuure, LCL 1989, Higher Education: A Report. University of New England: Department of Administrative and Higher Education Studies. Ministerial Council on Education Employment Training and Youth Affairs 2006, National Protocols for Higher Education Approval Processes [Electronic Version]. Higher Education - Publications, from <http://www.mceetya.edu.au/mceetya/ default.asp?id=15212> Sheehan, BA, Welch, AR & Lacy, FJ 1996, ‘The Academic Profession in Australia’, Evaluations and Investigations Programme, 96/1. Retrieved 21 February 2008, from http://www.dest.gov.au/archive/highered/eippubs/eip9601.htm Universities Australia 2007, University Staff Profile (1996-2005), Statistics, Staff, retrieved 6 August 2008, from <http://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/content. asp?page=/publications/stats/staff.htm>

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The vanishing idea of a scholarly life Workload calculations and the loss of academic integrity in Western Sydney Ann Lazarsfeld Jensen & Kylie Morgan Charles Sturt University & the University of Queensland

The loss of collegiality and the loss of academic integrity were key themes raised during forums, personal interviews, a survey and focus groups conducted with University of Western Sydney academic staff as part of a research project into academic work load agreements. In this paper the experiences related by participants are placed in the light of current literature. This paper follows Soliman and Soliman (1997) in suggesting that academics must make their work visible or the essential broad contribution of academic work will never be fully understood by managers whose priorities are sometimes peripheral to educational processes. It outlines difficulties academics are experiencing in the key areas of casualisation, teaching and research, and administration, which are contributing to loss of collegiality.

Introduction Information gathering forums into workloads organised through union contacts at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) suggested that the sheer volume of work might be more tolerable if morale was high. Instead there was widespread disenchantment emanating from managerial practices of audit and intensified accountability for time. Some academics spoke of losing the vision and enthusiasm they once had for serving Sydney’s disadvantaged Western suburbs.These forums gave direction to this research project which was approved by the Ethics Committee at the University, funded by the School of Nursing, and conducted in co operation with the National Tertiary Education Union branch at UWS. The research was facilitated by a team of four full-time academics, three of whom accepted voluntary redundancies early in the research process. The research associates who are authors of this paper are not tenured academics of UWS.

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The development of the 1725 hours workload model upon which the ‘workload agreements’ at UWS are based, was intended to be a recognition that academic work is seasonally intensive, and its demands flow into unseen parts of the academic’s private life (Soliman, 1999; Soliman & Soliman, 1997). However, its rigid, sometimes creative interpretation at UWS is seen by staff as counterproductive. In the schools a working hour is calculated in different ways, and allocated to highly specific tasks requiring up to three pages of spreadsheets to justify the calculations. Each of the University’s three colleges has developed a different model to estimate or interpret the allocation of 1725 hours, and at the level of the schools these become so obscure that many academics do not understand their own agreement. A hybrid interpretation was used in one college where loads were represented as a percentage of the EFTSUL (Equivalent Full-time Student Unit Load) so that a tutorial might be described as 1.76

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per cent of an EFTSUL, a figure that was meaningless and incomprehensible to many academics. The target EFTSUL per lecturer was arrived at by dividing the number of staff into the number of full-time students.A further calculation was then conducted to determine how many EFTSUL equated to 10 per cent of a workload. It is an economic model loosely tied to income generated by student enrolments. These variations between colleges are represented in Table 1.

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cating they worked on weekends, 96.7 per cent stating they rarely worked fewer than 37.5 hours a week excluding holidays, and 51.6 per cent indicating they worked before 8am and after 8pm four to five days a week. Much of this hidden work performed after hours was work that had not been endorsed or sanctioned through the policies and manipulation of the school agreements. It was work academics felt was essential to meet their own standards of scholarship.

Table 1. College variations in workload formulas College

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Actual Calculation

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Unknown

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Different in each school

Up to 40% research (flexible)

The inability of academics to translate their EFTSUL load into real hours allocated to genuine tasks was a major obstacle to this research.The first survey instrument was designed to try and make hidden work plain, by listing diverse categories of work as suggested by the Soliman papers (Soliman 1999; Soliman & Soliman, 1997). Academics were asked to compare the demands of their school-level workload agreement with the actual hours worked. The survey was sent to 950 academic staff and there were a mere 20 responses. Some academics sent back blank survey forms complaining that their agreements were so obscure that they did not know what was expected of them, and so had no basis for comparison with reality. In effect, the EFSUL agreement entered into by academics at UWS to satisfy school records lacked transparency and bore no resemblance to the actual time they expended. After rounds of personal interviews and focus groups clarified the problem, a snapshot email survey of 550 academics was sent out at the end of the academic year. It asked only four questions about actual work performed before 8am, after 8pm and on weekends. This time more than 90 responses were logged within a week, with 100 per cent of respondents indivol. 51, no. 2, 2009

In discussing the principles that guided the development of the 1725 hour workload model Soliman (1999) described the ‘high levels of complexity and uncertainty,’ (p.12) that characterise academic work that do not yield to oversimplification of those tasks. She suggested that academics needed to define their own core business in the light of inevitable change in university economies and governance in order to avoid a division between traditional academic values and the new knowledge worker because university management wanted quantity and did not share the same concepts of quality as academics. At UWS one Associate Professor said she was already a piece worker and only a Bundy clock could satisfy managers that academics were doing real work. Academics at the University found the time pressures of workload calculation compromised reflective teaching, undermined their scholarly contribution to knowledge production. Such pressures also affected their capacity to both produce and transmit contemporary, evidence-based knowledge. Research, curriculum development, community engagement, mentoring of colleagues and the core business of teaching, were all described as compromised by the various attempts to ensure that academics were ful-

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filling their quota of hours. The process itself was felt to be oppressive and demoralising. In early discussions with academic staff, five key areas of pressure were identified that are reshaping the nature of academic work: casualisation, multiplication of campuses, escalation of technological demands in teaching, devolution of administration and the escalation of bureaucratic processes. Each of these areas was discussed further in focus groups in the search for a more equitable workload agreement model.

Casualisation and the quality of teaching and learning The tension between quantity and quality was most evident in the University where casual, contract and low level academics were allocated increased teaching workloads left in the wake of voluntary redundancies. The experience of staff may be symptomatic of deteriorating standards throughout Australian universities, exacerbated by its unique profile (UWS, 2007). The university has a high staff-student ratio (1:23.34) and a culturally and linguistically diverse student profile. Local students with a low University Admission Index (the ranking system used by universities in NSW to select students) are boosted in by regional bonus points. Sheer numbers mean that large cohorts are taught by casuals who have little access to professional development and have little or no role in their schools, which equally restricts the collegial support available to full-time staff. The phenomenon of a two-tiered faculty in which an increasing minority has the privileges of tenure was shown in the RED report (An acronym for the research report Recognition, Enhancement and Development: The contribution of sessional teachers to higher education) into sessional teaching produced out of an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) funded project across 16 Australian universities (Percy, Scoufis, Parry, Goody, Hicks, Macdonald, Martinez, Szorenyi-Reischi, Ryan, Willis, & Sheridan, 2008). In his introduction to the RED report, University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rob Castle, likened tenured staff to middle class Victorians who depended on servants who ‘slept in the attic, ate in the kitchen, and you grumbled constantly that what they did was actually not what you wanted, although …..they were absolutely essential to your…lifestyle.’ (Percy et al., 2008).

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The report said high levels of sessional staff implied a heightened risk and compromised standards for universities which failed to provide professional development or monitor performance. Universities could not provide accurate data on the real number of casuals employed, and Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (formerly DEST) statistics gave only full time equivalence, which also hid the supervisory load of permanent staff. Two universities did report that about 80 per cent of all undergraduate teaching was done by sessional teachers ‘in stark contrast to the DEST estimate of 15 per cent FTE’ (Percy et al., 2008, p7). In 1998 the lack of plain numerical accounting for casual staff thwarted an attempt to fully survey gender pay equity (Probert, Ewer, & Whiting, 1998) although one university which did supply plain numbers revealed 61 per cent of its individual academic employees were casual or sessional. Data from DEST/DEEWR of the UWS distribution of Level A staff can be seen in Table 2. Table 2. Comparison of Level A Staff Tenured, Fixed term and Casual at UWS 2007 Staff

Full-time Equivalent

Per Cent

Tenured

80

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7.2%

Tenured

5

1.5%

Fixed Term

6

1.5%

246 (FTE)

67.8%

Full-Time

Part-Time

Casual

Source: DEST/DEEWR Aggregated data set ‘STAG2007’

Broad concerns about declining quality in teaching and learning in Australia were a focus of the Independent Review of Australian Higher Education conducted by Professor Denise Bradley. A University of Technology, Sydney submission demonstrated that ‘massification’ of higher education in Australia had led to the highest entry rates and close to the lowest completion rates in the OECD:‘the quality of teaching and learning in Australia has not improved across the board, and has gone backwards against the rest of the world over the last decade’ (UTS, 2008). It could be implied that in a university such as UWS, both staff and students have considerable experience of many of the issues raised by both the RED report and the Bradley Review. At UWS casuals said

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supervisor. Extreme financial stress and anxiety were reported by those who depended on academic work as their primary income. Some casuals who reported financial distress had served the University between five and 12 years. Another, who had lectured, co-ordinated and done research work on campus for four years, said she had given up hope of achieving permanency as the entry level bar kept rising. Approaching colleagues for casual work at the beginning of semester was described as begging, and the prostitution period. Casuals felt they subsidised the University through unpaid preparation, student consultation, and mark….there is this fiction… that for every hour face to ing time. Increasingly unrealistic contracts meant face you will either do one or two hours preparation …. If you have done two hours preparation they felt obliged to donate their time to get the work that is $20 an hour. A little bit above McDonalds done although intense vigilance of their contract but not much. So no it is certainly not fair and equihours by administrators was eroding their willingness table. Casuals are delivering these units for under to continue making personal sacrifices. Some schools half the cost of using a full timer for doing this emphasised the turn-around time of 20 minutes per work. An absolutely huge saving has been made. 1000 words of marking, by withholding contracts Casual 5 years teaching postgraduate level until minimal class sizes became evident. Casuals felt their ability to conMoreover, full-time acatribute to quality teaching demic staff, who must Increasingly unrealistic contracts meant was compromised by time recruit and support teams [casuals] felt obliged to donate their pressures that prevented of casuals, reported little time to get the work done although in-depth feedback, which recognition in their workintense vigilance of their contract hours research shows is a signifiload for this increasingly by administrators was eroding their cant factor in the developtime-consuming task, ment of academic skills which is often based on willingness to continue making personal (Orrell, 2006). relationships rather than sacrifices. Extreme stress relating more objective aspects of to job insecurity, including merit. Some full-time staff delays in wage payments, impacted on performance felt their work was intensified or compromised by the because so much time was consumed by pursuing and low commitment and poor standards of casuals, particmaintaining an adequate income. Sessional staff also ularly in marking and other assessments. Full-time acareported lost time and productivity through adminisdemics felt the increasing recruitment of non-teaching trative processes, and said they sometimes spent two professorial staff could not relieve the current teachor three unpaid days each semester negotiating coning pressures, particularly when those taking voluntary tracts, meeting with staff, and gaining access to essenredundancies were not replaced. Full time lecturers tial resources. felt isolated from both the professorial and sessional It was clear that increasing casualisation was the staff, and lacked peer support. main strategy for delivering teaching within budgetIn 2005 Keogh and Garrick pointed to an impoverary constraints. The efficacy of the strategy was quesished environment where academics were no longer tioned by full-time academics that felt teaching quality attached to their institutions because of policies that was being eroded not because casuals lacked ability, eroded collegial cooperation. Casualisation was seen but because genuine teaching teams with a shared as a key issue in need of depth research (Keogh & agenda could not be sustained. Scholarly work, includGarrick, 2005). At UWS a sense of alienation and isolaing teaching, can isolate individuals and impact their tion was reported by casuals who said they knew as work negatively unless it is moderated by strong acafew as eight staff on campus, which included adminisdemic communities. trators who processed their contracts and one direct they felt exploited by poor resourcing such as the abrupt withdrawal of library and email services when most needed between teaching sessions; excessive vigilance to restrict the cost of contracts, particularly in relation to marking time where they were most likely to invest personal time and resources of necessity; lack of professional development; absence of feedback; and the poor lead-in times to teaching due to late recruitment. They felt they were regarded as good-enough, but not as respected or valued members of the university faculty. They felt excluded from the core business of the schools:

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The emphasis on teaching at a cost of research opportunities Twenty-one full-time tenured academics who participated in either forums, focus groups or semi-structured interviews felt their own teaching standards were being eroded by workload agreements that were teaching intense. These academics, who ranged from Levels A to E, described an increasing focus on teaching that left little room for other scholarly pursuits that would inform practice. Cohort sizes were swelling and demanding face-to-face teaching sessions were complicated by the distance travelled between campuses on some of Sydney’s busiest arterial roads. As shown in Table 3, although 81.2 per cent of all academic staff at the University have a theoretically mixed teaching and research workload, lower level academics could not find time to do the research work that would help them gain promotion. Table 3. Staff 2007: Distributions at UWS by Function (Academic Departments Only) Function

Number (FTE)

Percentage

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Research Only

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Teaching & Research

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81.2%

Other

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12.2%

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100%

Source: DEST/DEEWR Aggregated data sets ‘STAG2007’

Academics without a research track record reported that they were allocated little or no time to develop their research because time allocations were based on past performance. Some indicated they could not consider pursuing higher degrees due to workload stress, and acknowledged their careers would not advance. Academics who could not get engaged in research and in generating research income felt stuck and not respected in their work as lecturers. Lecturers who were not research active were the most vulnerable in workload allocation, reporting that they co-ordinated a proliferation of small-cohort units that had little EFTSUL value.They insist there is little difference between preparing to teach 10 and preparing to teach 100. You are in a Catch 22 if you want to get a promotion. I was working on getting my promotion based on teaching excellence but they have moved the goal posts. You have to have a Carrick award or a VC’s award. Lecturer A would be really hard

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[pressed] to get promoted on teaching. So really the only thing you can get promoted on is research. Lecturer A Academics at higher levels lamented they were powerless to help others. Mentoring, community engagement and committee work were given little or no time allowance in their school workloads, even in the professoriate, and when combined with the requirement that they have a minimum 10 per cent teaching load, many felt that the work had lost its purpose and status. Lecturers described an overwhelming push to teach more intensively, technologically, with larger classes in spaces not designed for the purpose. The complex formulas that had been developed by workload committees to allocate the work around teaching ignored other scholarly work. The front of the workload agreement in the college says it is expected to be a balance between people who are research focused, people who are admin focused, people who are teaching focused and then it gives indicative ranges of the hours that people could expect in any one of those. We could take [away] everything except the teaching focuses ‘cause that’s the only thing people are interested in. I was told that, as an associate professor, being on three committees was too much committee membership. Associate Professor

The loss of trust: morale, integrity, and collegiality Academics reported that workload agreements left them feeling demoralised by surveillance and mistrust. Those who hoped that university teaching would provide an opportunity to develop their teaching skills and contribute to their discipline through publications and research, felt they were now teaching machines. The distribution of teaching was based on shrinking options rather than expertise. One lecturer whose second semester EFTSUL allocation was regarded as ‘full’ in March was told she would not be able to teach a course she had just re-written. In the July break, when she had hoped to spend time writing, she was informed that the workload was not in fact ‘full’ and she would have to pick up the teaching of a new unit for which she felt ill-equipped. The course she had already developed had been re-assigned to a colleague, and was no longer available to her. She spent the semester break, which she had previously set aside for writing, swotting up new content in an area where she

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subsequently struggled. This academic described how the idiosyncratic application of policy in her school left her feeling confused and cheated, but obliged to keep her head down and not complain. Oh… I tried to understand that [workload agreement] but it is beyond [me]…it doesn’t actually make sense. They initially sent a draft which said it [workload] was down by 20 per cent. I think, when I tried to follow their calculations …they were duping me. Even now with some drop in the number [of students] it is still worth 60 per cent of the teaching load. Bits get taken off it to deal with the tutorials and other sorts of things. So even though on paper…....see that is what I couldn’t understand about the workload was that we were told that we could take half…say something was worth 60 per cent you’re entitled to 30 per cent for the coordination and teaching of it. It just doesn’t turn out like that. Recently in the drafts, things were down and nothing had changed the EFTSULs for them….’cause they only communicate the EFTSUL you have to kind of work out what the EFTSUL is as a percentage… they went down. So even this new unit that I believe is worth 15 per cent the last time I saw it they recorded it as 4 per cent. So it just doesn’t make any sense to me. Lecturer B Academics who had reported to management that they were feeling pressured by the workload calculation processes felt they were jeopardising their careers. Those who told supervisors that they could not finish their marking in the allocated time, or could not meet the escalating demands to develop online resources, felt they were judged as incompetent. I work through the night until I get the work done. I have to if I am going to turn around the marking on time. I don’t know how long it takes. It takes my whole life. I want a voluntary redundancy because that’s how much they owe me. I never get the time back. Senior Lecturer Lecturers said they found it difficult to refuse additional work because everyone was pressured. There was an implication that, if they were not in their office, they were not actually working. In some schools regular office hours had been demanded which made academics more vulnerable to student demands, reducing the opportunities to do sustained work that required concentration. With general staff there is a presumption that if they turn up to work every day they are doing their work. Academics are asked to work from the opposite premise, to justify how they spend their time. Academic A vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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Some suggested time pressure was inappropriate in a sector that depended on time-consuming intellectual processes. They needed time, and whether it was paid for or not they said they invested whatever time it took to produce the kind of course material that they felt represented contemporary, quality content: If you love your work and feel it is important to give the students the best, it takes a lot of time and reading. You will always make yourself vulnerable to exploitation if you love what you do. I am not paid for any of it. Casual Academic Some lecturers said they had invested themselves in the University’s vision for Sydney’s West, seeing it as an opportunity to serve disadvantaged groups.They now felt disadvantaged themselves, as they saw the opportunity for genuine academic careers awarded to a non-teaching elite that had forged its early careers elsewhere. Anything I do for a research centre will not be considered for my workload. UWS Associate Professor. Guest lecturers were now a liability who reduced the hosts’ workload hours in a way that made unit coordination seem worthless. Allocations that were supposed to be equitable encumbered those with the least seniority. It would be just nicer to have a more collegial kind of environment in which to work, where you were all recognised as peers, instead of a more hierarchical, controlled kind of environment, where we clearly have a boss who clearly dishes out the work. Academic B

Privilege, prestige and the academic life Many of the issues raised by academics at UWS are not new. It has been suggested that academic resistance to managerial practices is merely a way of preserving a privileged lifestyle. In a study of UK workload models, Hull (2006) argued that lost collegiality was a poor response to managerialism in education because it appeared to be an attempt to protect elite aspects of university life. Hull usefully asked how academics had failed to analyse, research, define and protect their own working conditions, and emphasised the lack of empirical analysis of academic working life. Although academic detachment from industrial issues might have been suggested through the early poor response of UWS academics to this research (see introduction), many claimed they simply did not have

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time for further workload record-keeping to justify their busy lives. Others said they were waiting to take voluntary redundancies rather than endure further workload stress. It was only by asking a few questions at the right time, that this research provoked a genuine response: academics in semester time had little breathing space. The loss of morale described in this paper does not equate with Hull’s (2006) concerns about an elite academy. Academics at all levels felt isolated and unsupported, while higher level academics felt too time-deprived to give mentoring support. The privileges of a scholarly life which Harris (2005) said could not be justified, were unknown to those who had to expend 90 per cent of their 1725 hours carrying teaching loads at UWS.Academics, who were in demand due to their reputations as higher research degree supervisors, were equally disadvantaged by the EFTSUL calculations which allowed as little as one hour per week for a PhD student, and no time for journal editing or contributions to national scholarly projects. Universities are the site of the same kind of neo-liberal practices that have had an impact on other professions: professional accountability has been replaced by corporate protocol-driven scrutiny and ‘…economic values rather than educational values are becoming central to defining professional identity and professionalism’ (Harris, 2005, p425). The complexity of intellectual practice is not easily understood by administrative staff who can achieve their own tasks in office hours. Yet even if academics could explain how much reading, thinking and writing time is needed to produce quality teaching, there is the strong possibility that managers do not want slow and expensive processes. Scholarship is a dual task of both knowledge production and transmission (Houston, Meyer, & Paewai, 2006). This implies that an academic should be engaged in both research and teaching, although there is a case for academics who only teach. Marsh and Hattie (2002) gave evidence that there was little correlation between research and better teaching although Harris (2005, p. 430) argued that, without research, teaching will remain a ‘shallow dialogue’. Although research is tied to career advancement and recognition, it also enhances teaching practice and refreshes the approach of those who have spent decades in the lecture theatre. They have taken out the professorial position and our professorial money and used it for someone who is big into research in some other field that

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has nothing to do with us. I find this quite offensive. When we did have a professor he never even introduced himself to us. Under the original professor we had a weekly meeting for research and [it was] encouraging. We had mentoring going on within our group, within our programme. Academic A As early as 2003, the vulnerability of Australian universities to shifting Government policy and the porous boundary between management and academic leadership were seen as a precursor to a loss of professional identity (Zipin & Brennan, 2003). Zipin and Brennan used fictionalised workloads to explore some of the moral tensions created at the intersection of academic workloads with budget cuts, casualisation and the hegemonies impacting upon career prospects. As a newer university situated in or near some of the most disadvantaged suburbs of Sydney’s West, UWS, and therefore its staff, is particularly vulnerable to economic movement. Academics suspect that the university is seeking status, evidenced by the expensive new school of medicine and the gradual shift east at the expense of its home campuses in the west.

A confusion of calculations that do not add up Academics at UWS report they are working harder and longer, particularly in the light of pressures to increase their skills in information technologies, to reduce faceto-face teaching time in favour of online resourcing, to conduct workshops and tutorials with lecture-size classes and to teach mega-cohorts, through staff redundancies, escalating administration, and increasing casualisation. Yet according to the way in which their workload agreements are calculated, it is hard for them to prove they are working 1725 hours. Complexity and vagaries seem to be increasing the demands, and fail to address the hidden load created by new influences, including increased class sizes, blended modes of teaching, technological and bureaucratic demands. Lecturers suspected the ambiguity was designed to simply make sure workloads fitted within the limitations of budgets and understaffing.

Conclusion The workloads research project at UWS thus far has revealed a high level of dissatisfaction with the implementation of workload policies. Staff members say

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they are not averse to hard work, but there is a desire to work effectively and to have a greater measure of preferential time management for the hidden work that improves teaching quality. Time integrity is an essential hallmark of professionalism (Shulman, 2005a, 2005b) that recognises a fundamental motivation to contribute in a field where work spills into private lives, and cannot fit into a nine-to-five schedule. In the final stage of the project, there will be an attempt to discern whether the problems at the University of Western Sydney are unique. Given its status, location and student profile, it is possible that morale can also be related to academic isolation, the University’s rapid growth, and restructuring, and the diversity of its disciplines. This final stage analysis is complicated by the lack of comparative information about the methods of calculation other universities are using at schools level, and how agreements are invigilated. This suggests a need for further research.There is also a dearth of information on the range of workload agreement models in place elsewhere. There is still a need to research precisely if and how other universities enable academics adequate time not only to fulfil their teaching obligations, but also to develop their research profile in order to enhance practice. Soliman’s (1997) concept of 1725 annual hours, undertaken according to the complex seasonal demands of the academy, was the preference of many academics interviewed, provided those hours were flexibly, equitably and transparently expended. Ann Lazarsfeld Jensen is a lecturer in the School of Bio Medical Sciences, Charles Sturt University, NSW, Australia.

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Acknowledgment Research Team: Genevieve Kelly, Elizabeth Watson, AnneMaureen Scarff and Robyn Moroney

References Harris, S 2005, ‘Rethinking academic identities in neo-liberal times’, Teaching in Higher Education, 10(4), 421-433. Houston, D, Meyer, LH & Paewai, S 2006, ‘Academic staff workloads and job satisfaction: Expectation and values in academe’, Journal of Higher Education, 28(1), 17-30. Hull, R 2006, ‘Workload allocation models and ‘collegiality’ in academic departments’, Journal of Organisational Change Management, 19(1), 38-53. Keogh, J & Garrick, B 2005, ‘On the need to investigate the situation of casual academic work in new times’, HERDSA News, December. Marsh, HW & Hattie, J 2002, ‘The relation between research productivity and teaching effectiveness’, Journal of Higher Education, 73(5), 603. Orrell, J 2006, ‘Feedback on learning and achievement: rhetoric and reality’, Teaching in Higher Education, 11(4), 441-456. Percy, A, Scoufis, M, Parry, S, Goody, A, Hicks, M, Macdonald, I et al 2008, The RED Report. In ALTC Publication. Probert, B, Ewer, P & Whiting, K 1998, Gender Pay Equity in Australian Higher Education. South Melbourne: NTEU. Shulman, LS 2005a, ‘Pedagogies of Uncertainty’, Liberal Education, 91(2). Shulman, LS 2005b, ‘Signature pedagogies in the professions’, Daedalus, 134(3), 52. Soliman, I 1999, ‘The academic workload problematic’. Paper presented at the HERDSA Annual International Conference, Melbourne July 12-15. Soliman, I & Soliman, H 1997, ‘Academic workload and quality’, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 22(2), 135-157. UTS (University of Technology, Sydney) 2008, ‘The quality of teaching and learning in Australia: an analysis’, Review of Australian Higher Education. UWS (University of Western Sydney) 2007, Pocket Profile. Zipin, L & Brennan, M 2003, ‘The suppression of ethical dispositions through managerial governmentality: A habitus crisis in Australian higher education’, Leadership in Education, 6(4), 351-370.

Kylie Morgan is an associate lecturer in the School of Music, University of Queensland, Australia.

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Widening participation? Barriers to learning for manual grade staff in higher education institutions Liz Dunphy & John P Wilson University of Bradford & University of Sheffield, UK.

In a survey conducted across eleven universities in the north of England, attendance figures for manual grade staff attending internal university training programmes was found to be significantly below that of other employee groups. This is unsatisfactory from an equal opportunity perspective since the ethos of a university should encompass all employees. It is also unsatisfactory from a business perspective because all staff need to possess the requisite skills and be able to use them to maximum effect. Furthermore, manual grade staff frequently interact with students and the quality of this interaction may have implications for student satisfaction and course completion rates. This paper investigates the levels of training attendance by manual grade staff at two universities and discusses three categories of barriers to learning identified by Hillage and Aston (2001). A survey of manual grade staff was conducted and supplemented with a number of semi-structured interviews. Forty-four barriers were ranked and the first ten are considered in more detail. Recommendations are made to address some of the equality and business issues regarding the barriers to learning.

Introduction In an internal survey conducted among staff developers from eleven universities in the north of England, ten confirmed that there were disproportionate levels of attendance among staff groups attending in-house courses. Six of these named manual grade staff e.g. porters, security staff, cleaners and catering staff, as the lowest attending group. The content, availability and suitability of training programmes did not appear to suggest that these were causes of the imbalance, and so more detailed research was then confidentially conducted in two of these universities with the intention of verifying the general observations found in the initial survey. Attendance records for in-house training at University A (UniA), for a six month period revealed that there was a large discrepancy between training attendance levels of manual grade staff and that of

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other grades.At the end of this period UniA had 2,080 staff on its payroll with manual grade staff making up 20 per cent (414) of total staff. During this time more than half the total employees (1,156) across all staff groupings e.g. administrative, clerical, manual grade attended at least one in-house training programme organised by the Staff Development Unit. However, only 48 (4 per cent) of these staff were manual grade staff. Fifteen months later this discrepancy had significantly deteriorated with just one manual grade staff member attending an in-house training event in the preceding six months. In University B (UniB), which had 2000 employees, only 33 out of 288 manual grade staff had attended courses during the last three years i.e. 4 per cent annually. This situation, while very unsatisfactory, is not entirely unsurprising, nor new; with Woodley et al. (1987, p. 71) finding that adult education recruited disproportionately more from non-manual than manual vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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Investors in People is a body that emphasises the occupations and that, ‘the working class is massively importance of a strategically integrated training and under-represented among mature students.’ development approach to support the achievement Universities are places of education and it would of organisational objectives. It cites several major busibe expected that there would be equality of access ness benefits of training and development, in particuto training and development for all members of staff. lar: improved earnings, productivity and profitability; Indeed, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Develimproved motivation; reduced costs and wastage; and opment (CIPD, 2002, p. 8) argued that, ‘If an organisacustomer satisfaction. tion offers training ideally there should be no barriers The latter benefit, customer satisfaction, is particuto eligible employees taking up such offers.’ However, larly important for higher education institutions. If the evidence above suggests that barriers may exist university commitment to manual grade staff trainfor manual grade staff attending in-house university ing and development is weak, this will have a direct courses and this unsatisfactory situation has the potenimpact on the ability of their employees to contribute tial to impact on the overall performance of universito customer service, or what is known as the ‘student ties and is therefore deserving of closer scrutiny. experience’. Smith’s (1999) research into the motivaNo articles were found during a literature search tion of ancillary staff found into higher education trainthat higher levels of awareing and development and so Through training and development ness of training opportuto address this lacuna this opportunities all staff can make an nities in this group were paper begins by investigatimportant contribution to business positively correlated with ing the business case for the competitiveness and quality of service motivation levels. training and development Furthermore, the Widof all employees within an ening Participation stratorganisation. Second, it will egy of the Higher Education Funding Council for examine the literature regarding barriers to learning. England (HEFCE 2006) has emerged as a result of Third, it will describe the empirical findings of barrithe recognition that certain groups, including chilers to learning in two universities; and, finally, it will dren from working class backgrounds, tend to have make a number of recommendations to address this significantly lower participation rates in higher eduimbalance. cation. HEFCE (2007, p. 1) acknowledged that remediation was, ‘vital for social justice and economic The business case for developing all competitiveness,’ and this situation would appear to employees have a direct message regarding the lower number of manual grade working class employees attending Universities are not alone in experiencing this probuniversity training sessions. lem which was also to be found in local government The specific challenges universities face, such as by The Improvement and Development Agency (2007, competing for students, provides opportunities for p.1) which reported that, ‘Councils up-and-down the each member of staff, at every level, to contribute to country struggle to get manual workers involved with organisational improvements (Quayle and Murphy, training courses that office-based staff take for granted.’ 1999). Therefore, enhancement of the student experiThe situation only improved when an officer was speence will lead to increased retention and completion cifically appointed to encourage refuse workers to rates thus improving the institution’s financial position. develop their skills and qualifications. Manual grade staff can have a high impact on these There are compelling arguments for ensuring student-related outcomes through their direct contact managers’ skills are developed (Ramsden, 2000), and with students: e.g. cleaners of student residential halls the CIPD (2002, 2005) suggested that there is also a and teaching accommodation are in direct contact with strong business case for a re-assessment of the needs students’ daily lives in a very different and personal way of, and provision for, all employees. Through training from academic staff. Similarly, security guards and porand development opportunities all staff can make an ters are often the first point of student contact for probimportant contribution to business competitiveness lems which have an impact on the student experience, and quality of service (Investors in People-UK 2007; such as feeling threatened on campus, broken central Quayle and Murphy, 1999;Yorke, 2000). vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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heating etc. These front-line staff not only provide a service which has a high impact on the student experience, but they are also in the unique position of being aware of student feedback relating to their university experience. In order for this feedback to become valued data in organisational improvement initiatives, manual grade staff must themselves be valued by their higher education institutions and in turn their skills should be developed and motivated. To achieve quality in higher education Yorke (2000, p. 21) asserted that the internal processes must be working optimally and the organisation must seek to create an ‘internality which supports its staff in the fulfilment of their duties (whether these are internally or externally directed).’ Second, he advised that, ‘an institution which does not work well internally will have an extra struggle to achieve optimally in terms of its intended outcomes’ (2000, p. 21). In other words, the internal processes and culture of a higher education institution must themselves reflect the same inclusivity and quality that is expected to be provided and perceived by its students. If higher education institutions are not focused on the training needs of a core group of staff, and leave inequality issues unaddressed, this may reflect an internal culture which is not working effectively to support its students. In summary, barriers to attending in-house training may be symptomatic of a failing internal culture which is simultaneously unable to provide students with the level of inclusivity and service it aims to achieve. This, combined with the fact that a large proportion of manual grade staff at UniB are women, part-time workers and from ethnic minority groups, brings further legislative drivers to the equality issues involved.

Levels of participation in learning activities There is a significant body of research on the exclusion of groups from learning where the focus is childhood education (e.g. Adelman and Taylor, 2001), formal adult further education (eg. Brooks, 1998), and higher education (HEFCE, 2006). Much less research has been conducted into workplace exclusion for public and private sector in-house training.This has been partly addressed by the CIPD (2002; 2005) surveys, ‘Who Learns at Work?’ which revealed that those most likely to feel their employers did not offer them enough opportunities for training tended to be people with minimal or no educational qualifications.This is despite finding

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that those with fewer qualifications believed strongly in the value of training for themselves, and were three times less likely to turn down training than their colleagues who had an undergraduate degree. Further findings included the fact that those doing lower level jobs, as measured by social class, were less likely to receive training (CIPD, 2002) and that line managers initiated a high percentage of training for their staff (CIPD, 2005). These findings were also mirrored by the National Skills Task Force (2000) research which noted that over 40 per cent of those in professional or associated professional occupations had received training over the previous 13-week period, compared to less than 20 per cent of craft-employees and fewer than one in seven operatives. In addition, it found that participation is also related to the size of an organisation with smaller firms (those employing fewer than 25 people) being the least likely to provide training. Most higher education institutions are large employers and thus it would be expected that training provision is substantial. A detailed review of UK and international initiatives/ studies of barriers to adult learning was conducted by Hillage and Aston (2001) who concluded that certain demographic groups were more susceptible to these barriers i.e. those with lower levels of previous educational experience, unemployed groups, and manual and craft workers. From the preceding evidence it is clear that an examination of the barriers to learning may provide insights into this inequality and these barriers will be considered next.

Barriers to learning Adult non-learners do not possess a homogenous set of characteristics; instead barriers to learning fall into different categories that affect individuals differently (Hillage and Aston, 2001). Non-learners included those that simply did not feel motivated to engage in learning through lack of confidence, disaffection or a feeling that ‘it is not for them’; and those who would like to undertake learning but were unable to because of external barriers. Both types of non-learners experienced different but related barriers to learning, e.g. lack of motivation to engage may be caused by a perceived lack of benefit or insufficient external incentives. Three categories of barrier were identified by Hillage and Aston (2001): attitudinal; physical and material barriers; and structural barriers. vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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Attitudinal barriers These were defined by Hillage and Aston (2001) as a set of reasons associated with attitudes to learning which constrain the initial desire to learn.They can be sub-divided as follows: Lack of confidence Although this is not a barrier which is often expressed in surveys, fear of failure and the lack of confidence in ability to learn emerged in interviews as a major deterrent. Other obstacles, such as lack of time, are often given to researchers instead of respondents openly admitting their fears (McGivney, 1990). Lack of motivation In the National Adult Learning Survey (Beinart and Smith, 1997) 39 per cent of respondents preferred to spend their free time in activities other than learning. Similarly, in the Institute of Employment Studies (Dench and Regan, 2000) follow-up study of older people, a similar proportion felt they had better things to do than learn. Negative attitudes to education and training The Policy Action Team (PAT) report on skills (DfEE, 1999b) argued that deep-seated cultural attitudes often formed by negative experiences at school may lead non-learners to believe that they had nothing to gain from engagement with learning. There were also perceived links between lack of literacy and negative attitudes to training/learning generally (DfEE, 1999a). Peer group culture Those people who belong to social or occupational groups for whom engaging in learning is not a ‘normal’ or habitual activity often develop an anti-learning culture which may be difficult for individuals to go against (McGivney, 1990). Perceptions of irrelevance Many non-learners are unable to see what tangible benefit they might gain from engaging in learning and Tamkin and Hillage (1997) described four main reasons for these perceptions. First, training was considered only to be associated with a new job – this perception was more likely to be held by younger workers. Second, people were generally satisfied with their current task and level and, significantly, this perception was more often reported by manual workers. Third, those who believed they were already sufficiently vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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qualified were more likely to report that training was irrelevant to them. Finally, feelings of inadequacy were also correlated with the same perception. Similarly, Dench and Regan (2000) found the belief that learning itself was not important was one of the main reasons given for non-participation, particularly among older learners. In summary, it would appear that internal attitudinal forces are powerful barriers to engaging in learning; however, they also combine with concrete external barriers which will now be discussed.

Physical and material barriers The second group of barriers identified by Hillage and Aston (2001) were physical and material and the most frequently cited reasons for non-participation were time and finance. Time-related The National Adult Learning Survey (Beinart and Smith, 1997) found that a significant proportion of non-learners reported being too busy either at work (24 per cent), or looking after a family (29 per cent) to engage with formal learning activity. Likewise, Calder and McCollum (1998) reported that those adults that stayed at home to look after a family were only half as likely as even the registered unemployed to have taken part in some vocational training during the previous three years. Financial Financial barriers can be categorised into direct costs, such as fees, and indirect costs, such as transport and childcare. Hillage and Aston (2001) stated that lack of good and affordable childcare was one of the most commonly reported reasons for women’s non-participation. However, higher education staff development courses are not fee-paying and therefore may have less effect. Lack of information Twenty per cent of National Adult Learning Survey (Beinart and Smith, 1997) respondents cited lack of knowledge of local learning opportunities as a reason for not learning. Also, a study by Smith (1999) into motivational factors in NHS ancillary staff concluded that the methods of communication for staff-centred schemes, such as training, were an influential variable in the ancillary staff’s awareness of the training opportunities available to them. Non-paper methods, such as face-to-face communication, were considered the best way to inform people of these opportunities. Widening participation?, Liz Dunphy & John P Wilson

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Geographical isolation People who lived in both isolated estates and rural areas were found to be less likely than average to have time to participate in learning (Tremlett et al., 1995). This appears to be especially true for older students (aged 25+) who were much more concerned with location and nearness than younger students (Institute of Employment Studies, 1999).

Structural barriers The third main impediment was structural barriers defined by Hillage and Aston (2001, p. 18) as, ‘the way learning opportunities are provided, and the lack of appropriate provision, either in terms of content or format.’ Although employed people were much more likely to participate in learning activities than the unemployed, the distribution among the former group was uneven. It was sometimes difficult, even for wellintentioned employers, to find courses or qualifications that were relevant to an employee’s particular learning need. Hillage and Aston (2001) also noted that the nature of the workplace, for example its size and business activities, is also correlated to the amount of learning within it. Further exploration of research has expanded on Hillage and Aston’s third category, ‘Structural Barriers’. One explicit legal limit to learning for people in receipt of social security benefit in the UK is the 16 hour rule. If registered unemployed people attend courses for more than 16 hours per week they are then considered to be in education and not seeking employment, thus removing their entitlement to social security. Two additional barriers were identified by Hughes and Turner (2002) relating to the image of students and courses, and entrance restrictions. In particular, they found that the negative stereotyping of colleges by potential learners could form a barrier to attendance.They also reported that there was a promotion of entry into training for those perceived to be ‘job ready’ who might be accepted for training in preference to those who were in greatest need of help.

Methodology and methods This research sought to identify those factors which might affect attendance at training courses and the main challenge was to identify reasons why something did not happen. As Cross (1981, p. 97) stated it

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is harder ‘to find out why people do not do something than why they do.’ Another challenge was to provide a more holistic picture to ameliorate the criticisms Gorard et al. (1999) raised about investigations into barriers to learning which isolated individuals from their context. Therefore, a balance was sought between surveying whole manual grade staff groups and creating a more confidential, personal setting where more private data could also be collected. For example, although ‘lack of time’ was often reported as a barrier to learning in questionnaires, more personal issues, such as fear of failure emerged during interviews (McGivney, 1990). To address these issues it was decided to circulate a questionnaire to all manual grade staff and follow this with semi-structured interviews. Drawing from the literature and preliminary interviews with a range of employees 44 factors which might inhibit learning were identified. A method was used, replicating research by Carp et al. (1974), in which barriers to learning were listed and respondents circled important items which were felt to inhibit them learning what they wanted to learn. The initial draft questionnaire was piloted with 10 manual grade staff and each was subsequently interviewed about the clarity and suitability of the contents. In addition, interviews were held with UniB’s Head of Ancillary Services and Equality Officers, and the questionnaire was emailed to UniA’s Head of Staff Development. Based upon CIPD (2002; 2005) experience, training managers were also interviewed, in order to enquire about the learning culture of the institution. It was not reasonable to expect individual staff members to be aware of hidden resistance from line-managers, for example. Subsequently, several changes to wording were made and the feedback confirmed that the questionnaire did not omit any major barriers to attending training. Initially, 702 questionnaires were distributed to all manual grade staff at both universities and 33 were returned from UniA (11 per cent) and 35 from UniB (8.5 per cent). All the questionnaires contained an invitation to be interviewed and 5 respondents volunteered. Semi-structured interviews were then held in both universities either during a working break, or at the beginning or end of a shift. The relatively low response rates may reflect not only staff barriers to training attendance but also their barriers to participating in this research, for example, low level literacy, or lack of trust in their organisation. Relevant staff development units and manual grade staff managers vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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were consulted to address these concerns, and managers briefed manual grade supervisory staff about the nature of this research. As with much research, the findings only represent the views of those who responded and this was taken into account when interpreting them.

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Findings The 68 respondents circled statements which they believed created barriers to learning and these are ranked in Table 1.

Table 1: Ranked List of Barriers to Learning Barrier no.

Barrier statement

No. of True Responses

Barrier no.

Barrier statement

No. of True Responses

1

No one explains the purpose of the courses

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22

These courses are not really for people like me

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My manager does not encourage me to attend

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I couldn’t afford to lose wages from my other job

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I have never heard of these courses

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I didn’t do well at school

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4

I’d be too busy to attend

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25

15

5

The subjects covered are not useful to me

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These courses are for staff who want promotion

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15

I have more important things to do than attend a course like that

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No one could provide cover for me whilst I was away attending training

27

These course are for younger staff

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7

I wouldn’t be confident enough to attend a course like that

26

28

I never enjoyed school and don’t wish to repeat the experience

12

8

I would not enjoy or learn a lot from a course like that

26

29

I’d be too busy at my other job

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30

I am happy working as I am and don’t need a course like that

25

I couldn’t afford the transport costs involved

11

9

31

The organisation is not really interested in my development

24

I’d be too busy doing other training/ learning activity

11

10

32

Courses like that are intimidating

10

11

The courses are held at inconvenient times

23

33

I wouldn’t understand a course like that

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12

I wouldn’t know how to apply for these courses

23

34

My manager makes it difficult for me to attend

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13

I can’t see what benefits I’d get from going on a course like this

22

35

None of my colleagues are attending so I don’t see why I should

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14

These courses are for staff new to their jobs with most to learn

22

36

I couldn’t afford to pay for childcare

8

37

I’d be too busy with childcare

8

15

I would have financial difficulties in attending

21

38

Others on the course would make me feel silly as they are so clever

7

16

I’d be too busy looking after my family

20

39

7

17

Even though the courses are free attending would incur financial costs to me

19

I do not wish to appear ambitious in front of colleagues

40

I don’t enjoy learning activities

6

I would not get on with others attending the course as they do different jobs to me

2

6

18

I’d feel uncomfortable being in areas that I don’t normally work in

18

41

19

I’m not interested in learning activities at 18 this time of my life

42

2

20

These courses are for staff at a higher level than me

18

My colleagues would tease me if I went on these courses

43

I’ve heard the courses are not very good

2

21

I’m too old for a course like that

17

44

These courses would be too easy for someone with my skills

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The top ten barriers have been considered in more detail also drawing upon comments made by staff during the semi-structured interviews. Barrier 1: No one explains the purpose of the courses. It would appear that although there is a menu of courses openly available these are not communicated in a fully accessible way either online or through more direct means. ‘The courses sound a bit over-complicated and the course descriptions need simplifying too.’ ‘I need pointing in the right direction – I thought the Staff Development Unit would explain what’s related to your work and what isn’t.’ Barrier 2: My manager does not encourage me to attend.

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and there was a significant correlation for them with this statement. ‘I couldn’t do a full-day course, I’m recently divorced and nowadays I need to leave at 2.30pm to pick up my two children.’ Barrier 7: I wouldn’t be confident enough to attend a course like that. ‘I’m not very confident about learning. I’m 40 and I’ve been out of that environment for so long….. my self-confidence is a bit dented due to personal issues, I’m re-building my life at the moment.’ Barrier 8: I would not enjoy or learn a lot from a course like that. ‘I wouldn’t go; they (colleagues) wouldn’t go’.

With tight staffing levels there is little slack in the system to encourage attendance.

Barrier 9: I am happy working as I am and don’t need a course like that.

‘My manager says he could never sort out cover for me to attend the courses. He’s frightened that if one of us goes, all of us will want to.’

This statement also correlated significantly with people who had not undertaken any recent learning. ‘I’ve got a lot on at home, work is my break!’

Barrier 3: I have never heard of these courses. Many manual grade staff have lower levels of access to the internet. An SPSS analysis of the data linking the findings to demographic data found a significant correlation between this statement and ethnic origin. ‘I might have read a brochure, but because I don’t have access to a computer I get so much paper in the internal post – it’s hard to know what to read and what to ignore.’ Barrier 4: I’d be too busy to attend. The demands of work load would appear to inhibit attendance on courses. ‘If just one of us is ill or on holiday then there’s not enough of us to take time off for training courses.’ Barrier 5: The subjects covered are not useful to me. There was a significant relationship between answering this statement and not attending any recent learning events. ‘I want to do English classes.’ Barrier 6: I have more important things to do than attend a course like that. Women tend to take more responsibility for child care

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Barrier 10: The organisation is not really interested in my development. ‘It’s been quite good really, I’m going to do a degree here soon.’ ‘Some areas of the University are better than others, some areas they send you on everything, others they wouldn’t mention them.’ Despite not making the top 10 barriers, ‘The courses are held at inconvenient times’ was highly ranked and was discussed at length by each of the interviewees. ‘Even courses related to my job like Customer Service…I couldn’t go because of my shift times’. ‘My manager says, ‘I can’t get cover’’. ‘Anything that’s 9-5 is inconvenient for us to go because of shift work.’

Conclusions Adults do not stop learning when they have left school even if that experience was not a positive one. Calder (1993, p. 127) noted that on average people spend 500 to 700 hours/year in deliberate learning activities e.g. how to drive, garden, speak a language; but she added, vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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encourage staff, and feel empowered to make the nec‘Education and training which is undertaken in formal essary budgetary and staff planning decisions. structured settings is not an attractive proposition for A quick and practical intervention would be to run disaffected adults.’ courses in the mornings only, from 8am-12pm to allow The identification and ranking of the learning barfor part-time cleaning staff to attend. Courses which riers provides a prioritised list of areas for managers are currently one day sessions could be converted to and educational leaders to address in order to increase two mornings. This, in itself, would send a large mesparticipation. On the whole, it would appear that the sage to manual grade staff about organisational combarriers are inter-related and for this reason an intemitment to their development. grated, rather than piecemeal, strategy is needed to Also, it appears that there is a special need for manredress the inequalities demonstrated by the findings. agers and staff developers to communicate about the This requires the three main areas of attitudinal; physicourses more effectively in order to address the apparcal and mental barriers; and structural barriers to be ent discrepancies in levels of awareness about the addressed together. courses. Staff developers must review their means of The findings within the two universities tend to advertising courses to manual grade staff. Since managreflect those found in the wider community: e.g. it ers are the most cited means by which manual grade would appear that confidence levels for some female staff hear about courses, manual grade staff are they should be considered not high. This could be Even though bespoke training itself may for targeted advertising addressed with a bespoke not be a long-term solution, this does not of courses. Briefing inforassertiveness / confidence preclude training deliverers giving more mation also should be building training course attention to the specific needs of manual reviewed to explain learndesigned to be safe and grade staff participants, to create safer, ing objectives as plainly as welcoming. Indeed, the non-threatening atmospheres... possible. international Springboard UniB is responding to programme (Springboard, equality issues from a 2007) designed specifically mainly assimilationist perspective. If institutions are to for women has proved very successful and this or a understand how to become more inclusive in the conderivative might be appropriate. text of the Widening Participation (2007) agenda they The provision of courses for specific client groups must also reflect this inclusiveness with their staff. can present challenges because of limited resources Rather than aiming to change groups to fit in with the and the fact that they limit opportunities for crossorganisation, the organisation must find ways to make university sharing of good practice. Even though its structures, processes and culture more responsive bespoke training itself may not be a long-term soluthrough inclusion and empowerment of staff. This tion, this does not preclude training deliverers giving empowerment would ideally include the impetus for more attention to the specific needs of manual grade manual grade staff to also address their attitudinal barstaff participants, to create safer, non-threatening riers. These proposals would have significant implicaatmospheres, and to review the learning objectives, tions for training including a review of the style and content, delivery style and venues of the in-house modes of training delivery, and creating a more weltraining programmes. coming atmosphere on courses. This is illustrated by It is essential that manual grade staff who are an UniA’s Cultural Awareness programme where barriers important component of the student experience benare greatly reduced and training is delivered in a way efit from training, and to encourage their interest there that meets the needs of manual grade staff and has must first be an acknowledgement and understanding management backing. of the business case for their training and this must In spite of spending approximately £350m the widinvolve all levels of the organisation: senior manageening participation strategy has struggled to increase ment, manual grade staff management and manual numbers of entrants from disadvantaged groups (Unigrade staff themselves. This commitment at senior versity of York, 2006) which might be because of commanagement level should cascade down to create a plex societal factors beyond the control of universities. sense of organisational urgency to address this issue However, the same apology cannot be used to justify and thereby increase confidence among managers to vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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lower levels of training for manual grade staff. For organisations to be successful all employees need to be fully developed to achieve their maximum potential and to ensure that they function successfully as an integrated whole. From an equal opportunities perspective this would appear to be an unacceptable state of affairs. From a business perspective it is an imperative. Liz Dunphy is Training & Development Advisor at University of Bradford, UK.

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Gorard, S, Rees, G & Fevre, R 1999, Learning trajectories: Analysing the determinants of workplace learning Paper presented at ESRC Seminar Series: Working to learn seminar one: Can the learning age deliver? Barriers to Access and Progression in Lifelong Learning, 24 June 1999, University of Surrey. HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) 2006, HEFCE Strategic Plan 2006 – 11. Retrieved 30 November, 2007, from <http://www.hefce.ac.uk/ pubs/hefce/2006/06_13/> HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) 2007, Widening participation. Retrieved 30 November, 2007, from <http://www.hefce.ac.uk/widen/> Hillage, J & Aston, J 2001, Attracting new learners: A literature review. London: Learning and Skills Development Agency. Hughes, M & Turner P 2002, Mapping research into the delivery of work-based learning. Research report. London: DfEE.

John P Wilson is research associate at the Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield, UK.

Improvement and Development Agency 2007, Basic skills training for manual staff: Dacorum. Retrieved 30 November, 2007, from <http://www.idea.gov.uk/ idk/core/page.do?pageId=6263814>

References

Investors in People-UK 2007, Benefits of Investors in People. Retrieved 10 June, 2007, from <http://www.investorsinpeople.co.uk/IIP/Web/ About+Investors+in+People/Benefits+of+Investors+in+People/default.htm>

Adelman, H & Taylor, L 2001, Early development and school readiness from the perspective of addressing barriers to learning. A center brief. Retrieved 15 June, 2007, from Center for Mental Health in Schools, UCLA, LA. <http:// www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true&ERICExtSearch_Sea rchValue_0=barriers+to+childhood+learning&ERICExtSearch_ SearchType_0=eric_metadata&_pageLabel=RecordDetails&objectId=09000 00b80071471]>

National Skills Task Force 2000, Skills for all. Research report from the National Skills Task Force (Ref SKT29, London: DfEE. McGivney, V 1990, Education’s for other people. Leicester: NIACE. Quayle, M & Murphy, J 1999, ‘Investors in people in further and higher education: the critical issues’, Quality Assurance in Education, 7(4), 181-189.

Beinart, S & Smith, P 1997, National adult learning survey (Research Report RR49) London: DfEE.

Ramsden, P 2000, Learning to read in higher education. London: Routledge Falmer.

Brooks, R 1998, Staying or leaving? A literature review of factors affecting the take up of post-16 options. Slough: NFER.

Smith, L 1999, ‘An evaluation of programmes for staff motivation in NHS and hotel ancillary staff’, Facilities, 17 (7/8), 264-271.

Carp, A, Peterson, R & Roelfs, P 1974, ‘Adult learning interests and experiences’, in Cross, KP & Valley, JR, Planning non-traditional programs: An analysis of the issues of post-secondary education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, pp. 83-97.

Springboard 2007, Springboard Women’s Development Programme. Retrieved December 3, 2007, from <http://www.springboard.org.au/ accessed 3 December 2007>

Calder, J 1993, Disaffection and diversity: Overcoming barriers for adult learners. London: The Falmer Press. Calder, J & McCollum, A 1998, Moving towards open flexible and distance approaches for vocational education and training. London: Kogan Page. CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development) 2002, Who learns at work? Employees’ experiences of training and development. London. CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development) 2005, Who learns at work? Employees’ experiences of training and development. London. Cross, KP 1981, Adults as learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc. DfEE 1999a, A fresh start: Improving literacy and numeracy. London: DfEE. DfEE 1999b, The learning age: A renaissance or a new Britain? Green Paper, Cm 3790. London: HMSO.

Tamkin, P & Hillage, J 1997, Individual Commitment to Learning: Motivation And Rewards, Research Report, R11. London: DfEE. Tremlett, N, Park, A & Dundon-Smith, D 1995, Individual Commitment to Learning: further findings from the individuals’ survey, London: Social and Community Planning Research. University of York 2006, Review of widening participation research: addressing the barriers to participation in higher education: Report to HEFCE. York: Higher Education Academy and Institute for Access Studies. Woodley, A, Wagner, L, Slowey, M, Hamilton, M & Fulton, O 1987, Choosing to Learn: Adults in Education, Milton Keynes, SRHE and The Open University Press. Yorke, M 2000, ‘Developing a Quality Culture in Higher Education’, Tertiary Education and Management, 6(1), 19-36.

Dench, S & Regan, J 2000, Learning in later life: Motivation and impact. Brighton: Institute for Employment Studies.

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The competition for industry research funding How satisfied are university commercial research clients? Troy Coyle University of Wollongong

Constrained public funding for universities and the emphasis placed on university-industry interactions mean that universities are increasingly required to compete for industrial funds for research. This in turn means that universities need to develop a customer service culture in order to be competitive and attractive to industry. Many studies examine industry-university relationships, their importance and ways to improve interactions but publications examining customer service quality in the context of the provision of university research services or technology transfer services to industry are lacking. This article recommends a modified SERVQUAL (service quality survey instrument) approach and the survey results identify several opportunities for improved service delivery practice.

Introduction There is a growing world-wide trend towards greater collaboration between academia and industry, an activity encouraged by governments as a means of enhancing competitiveness and innovation (Barnes, Pashby & Gibbons, 2002; Berman, 2008; Siegel, Waldman, Atwater & Link, 2003). For example, inter-institutional scientific collaborations in biotechnology are known to be the vehicle that drives industry forward (Oliver, 2004; Bagchi-Sen, Hall & Petryshyn, 2001) and innovation rates are higher amongst firms that exploit university resources (MacPherson, 2002). In addition, open innovation (where organisations exchange, collectively develop or trade innovation) is becomingly increasingly important (Cutler 2008) within the Australian innovation system, as it is in other countries (e.g. Chesbrough, 2006; Laursen & Slater, 2006). Further, the 2009-10 Commonwealth Budget announced the establishment of the Joint Research Engagement Programme. Although the details were not announced, vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

it seems that an increasing emphasis will be placed on funding from non-traditional funding routes outside of the nationally competitive grants scheme. This will create an environment where universities will be encouraged to focus on enhancing contract research income.Through the programme, the Government will redirect $1.2 billion over four years (including $158.8 million in 2009 10, $323.9 million in 2010–11, $330.0 million in 2011–12 and $337.6 million in 2012–13) from the Institutional Grants Scheme (IGS). The Joint Research Engagement Program will use a revised allocation formula which removes competitive grant income as a driver of funding. The Government states that this change is intended to give greater emphasis to end user research by encouraging and supporting collaborative research activities between universities, industry and end users. For the purposes of this article, ‘commercial research’ is the overarching term used for both contract research and consultancy projects where a third party is paying the university to undertake a certain The competition for industry research funding, Troy Coyle

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project and expects certain ‘deliverables’ in return. From industry’s perspective, commercial research offers: access to expertise and equipment not readily available elsewhere; access to leading edge technologies and world-class experts; development of stronger relationships with universities (and future graduates); and an expansion of their own research capabilities via the development of a university/industry research team. Commercial research activities help universities: to establish and strengthen relationships with industry; to exchange technologies with the broader research community; to ensure staff maintain ‘real world’ skills; to offset maintenance costs of large items of equipment; and to generate research income. Other than the benefits listed above, there is a further incentive for Australian universities to undertake the contract research component of commercial research. The Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations provides Institutional Grant Scheme (IGS) funding based on a performance index where the research income of each university is weighted at 60 per cent. The two primary mechanisms whereby universities obtain research income are grants and contract research. Consultancies do not contribute to the calculation of total research income. As stated above, it seems that the industry funded component of the IGS will be further emphasised following an announcement made in the in the 2009-10 Budget. Most universities focus on chasing grants. However, the total funds available from federal or state government supported grants are capped per annum and universities apply for these funds competitively.There is no such cap on contract research income as this is market driven. Thus, contract research represents an opportunity for universities to increase total research income and as this is a market-driven mechanism, universities need to make themselves attractive to the market.They are expected to present themselves as service enterprises that cater to the research needs of their industrial customers in order to allow them to compete better internationally (Lederbogen & Trebbe, 2003). In a knowledge-based economy, complex dynamics link universities to the market (Fisher & Atkinson-Grosjean, 2002). Research universities have tended to adopt an economic mission and become knowledge entrepreneurs (Fisher & Atkinson-Grosjean, 2002). As academic science feeds the market, so the market feeds science with new questions and funding to maintain the momentum (Fisher & Atkinson-Grosjean, 2002). In

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such a context, commercial research should be considered a service and the management of such services (e.g. through technology transfer units or commercial research management units) should be considered a service industry. Customers of such a service industry would include individuals, businesses, companies, government departments, not-for-profit organisations and other research institutions (together termed ‘industry’ for the purposes of this article). Interactions between universities and industry have long been a focus for researchers working on socioeconomic development issues. However, as a direct result of the widespread recognition that universityindustry links can assume a crucial role in promoting innovation capacity and the competitiveness of economic systems (Pires, Rodrigues & de Castro, 2002), there are very few studies of the customer service performance of the university industry or indeed the quality of customer service provided. The existing literature focuses on the pros and cons of universityindustry partnerships, developing models to improve relationships, descriptions of innovation models, or case studies demonstrating effective interactions (e.g. Anderson, 2001; Berman, 2008; Chesbrough 2006; Riis, 2001; Siegel et al., 2003; Valentin, 2000; Bagchi-Sen et al., 2001) and neglects to quantify or evaluate actual customer service performance. Studies that measure customer perceptions of service are lacking and many studies of industry-university interactions fail to consider the customer experience altogether (despite hypothesising on reasons why industry and universities may experience problems in interacting). However, research in service quality has been conducted in the higher education sector with respect to undergraduate students (Gibbs, 2004), the information technology service department (Smith, Smith & Clarke, 2007), virtual community websites (Kuo, 2003), libraries (Cook & Heath, 2001; Cullen, 2006) and individual faculties (Oldfield & Baron, 2000). Within the higher education context, the expectations of customers are increasing and there is a greater emphasis placed on the quality of service (Smith et al., 2007). However, whereas goods can be measured and defined in terms of their physical attributes, intangible services (such as commercial research) cannot be measured so easily, so the concept of service quality is therefore often difficult to define for service industries (Gibbs, 2004; Oldfield & Baron, 2000). In such cases, customer evaluations of service quality are based on perceptions of the quality of service received, relative vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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to prior experiences (Gibbs, 2004) or expectations of what constitutes excellent service.

Study methodology This study developed and used a modified SERVQUAL questionnaire (available at http://www.uow.edu.au/ research/survey) to compare customer expectations and perceptions, following the methods of Zeithaml, Parasuraman & Berry (1990), Parasuraman, Berry & Zeithaml (1988; 1991) and Gibbs (2004). The standard SERVQUAL survey questions, presented in Zeithaml et al. (1990) and Parasuraman et al. (1988; 1991) were modified to suit the environment and circumstances of a customer accessing commercial research services within the university context. The SERVQUAL method was chosen as it is a generic instrument with good reliability and broad applicability (Parasuraman et al., 1991) and is a well-known and much-used instrument for measuring customer perceptions of service quality (Oldfield & Baron, 2000) both amongst individuals and organisations. It was also readily tailored to suit the particular situation of a commercial research unit. Parasuraman et al., (1991) warn that although minor modifications in the wording of items to adapt them to a specific setting are appropriate, deletion of items could affect the integrity of the scale and cast doubt on whether the reduced scale fully captures service quality. However, in the context of a commercial research unit, it was required that some questions be removed because of their irrelevance. For example, the questions ‘XYZ’s employees are neat-appearing’ and ‘XYZ insists on error-free records’ are not appropriate in the commercial research context. They may be appropriate in some situations, for example where the service is the delivery of a training course to senior managers and dress code would be important or where recordkeeping was an important part of the deliverables to the client. However, these questions were not generally appropriate and so many customers would not be able to provide an informed response. In this situation, the risk that the integrity of the scale would have been jeopardised through removal of the questions was considered lower than the risk of including them and participants providing ill-informed responses. Conversely, some additional questions were included, such as ‘staff at an excellent research provider will explain the processes in place for customers to access the research provider’s services (e.g. contract requirements, internal approvals process, project costing)’. These additional vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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questions were considered important factors for consideration by participants, based on routine feedback that the author received from customers. The modified SERVQUAL questionnaire was sent out to all commercial research customers of the University of Wollongong who used the University’s commercial research services during 2007 and for the first six months of 2008. The questionnaires were sent to the key project contact identified by each industry partner during contract negotiations and project scoping. These contacts had responsibility or approving delegation for the contractual and technical negotiations. In some cases they were technical staff or senior management and in other cases they were project management or legal staff. Clients were able to complete the questionnaire confidentially.The joint University of Wollongong and South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Area Health Service Human Research Ethics Committee’s approval was obtained for the project. Table 1. Modified SERVQUAL dimensions used in this study. Dimension

Description of Dimension

Questions

Tangibles

Physical facilities, promotional material and Website.

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Reliability

Fairness/appropriateness, 5-9 transparency, and consistency.

Responsiveness

Delivering on promises within the promised Timeframe.

10-12

Assurance

Staff are competent and inspire confidence.

11-15

Empathy

Individualised attention.

15-18

The questionnaire enabled identification of the attributes that most contributed to customer satisfaction and comparison of customer expectations and perceptions across the five dimensions of tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy (Table 1). These five dimensions are considered to be representative of the generic dimensions of service quality (Parasuraman et al. 1991). The questionnaire presented two sets of questions, each set comprising 18 questions in total and containing three to five questions from each of the dimensions in Table 1. The questions were paired, with the first set of questions worded to elicit responses in regard to client expectations (i.e. expectation score) of an ‘excellent research provider’, and the second set of questions designed to elicit perceptions (i.e. perception score) of the University of Wollongong specifically. Respondents were The competition for industry research funding, Troy Coyle

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invited to rank their perceptions and expectations on a seven-point scale, with 1 being ‘strongly disagree’ and 7 being ‘strongly agree’. In addition, respondents were invited to allocate 100 points between the five dimensions according to how important the features of that dimension were to them (the more important a dimension was, the more points it was allocated). Each point allocation to a dimension was then divided by 100 to provide the ‘importance score’.

Data analysis The analytical approaches used in this study followed those of Zeithaml et al. (1990), Parasuraman et al. (1988; 1991) and Gibbs (2004). The mean expected scores and the mean perceived scores were compared for each question and each service dimension. This enabled identification of service performance across specific dimensions and within a dimension (i.e. the specific aspects affecting service performance within a dimension). The level of importance customers placed on each service dimension was determined from the importance score. The SERVQUAL score was calculated by subtracting the expectation score from the perception score for each paired question in the questionnaire. The university’s service performance was assessed for each dimension by averaging the individual SERVQUAL scores across all questions comprising a dimension (e.g. questions 1 to 4 for ‘tangibles’) and across all customer responses. A mean weighted SERVQUAL score was then calculated for each dimension by multiplying the unweighted SERVQUAL score by the importance score for the relevant dimension and averaging across all questions comprising a dimension and across all customer responses. A negative SERVQUAL score indicated that customer expectations were not being met, a zero score indicated alignment of performance with expectations and a positive SERVQUAL score indicated that expected performance was being exceeded.

Results The response rate was disappointing (only 19 responses were received from the 98 sent out, despite reminder notices). These comprised eight companies with >100 employees, four with 100 or fewer employees, three Government Departments, three international companies, and one customer from the ‘other’

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category. While studies involving students tend to have much higher sample sizes (e.g. 314 students in Smith et al. 2007 and 42 students in Gibbs 2004), studies investigating industry perceptions of university research interactions tend to use much smaller sample sizes (e.g. 10 grant partners in Berman 2008). So the sample size is consistent with (if not better than) other studies of industry-university interactions. Low response rates are possibly a result of staff not feeling they had the authority to respond to the survey on behalf of the organisation (particularly for Government partners), a lack of time available to complete the survey (particularly for small businesses) or a lack of perceived value in participating (perhaps feeling that the surveys would not lead to improvement). Figure 1 shows the mean unweighted client expectation and perception questionnaire scores for each dimension. Figure 2 shows the same information for each questionnaire item. The one area where perceptions exceeded expectations was in relation to courteousness (question 14 of the questionnaire). In addition, the gap between expectations and perceptions was only slight in relation to individualised client attention (question 16). In order to evaluate service quality more accurately, the mean importance scores were calculated (Figure 3). Reliability was the most important dimension, followed by responsiveness, while tangibles were the least important. Figure 4 shows the mean SERVQUAL score (both unadjusted and adjusted to consider the importance score) for each dimension. The negative values indicate a shortfall in customer service across all attributes. Five clients expressed interest in participating in a more detailed telephone discussion about service quality. Responses are included in the discussion, where relevant.

Discussion: Application of the SERVQUAL instrument and Aspects of Service Quality Identified as Being Important The purpose of the SERVQUAL protocol is to serve as a diagnostic methodology for uncovering broad areas of service quality shortfalls and strengths (Parasuraman et al. 1991). To this end, the modified SERVQUAL questionnaire developed in this study was able to identify aspects of service quality that were considered important by customers and uncovered several areas for service quality improvement. vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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by the bureaucratic process and length 0.35 of time involved in contract nego0.3 tiations. One customer stated ‘it took 6 more time to do 0.25 the legals than the 5 time taken to do the tests and the tests 4 0.2 weren’t quick’. However, it seems that 3 the issue is the length of time involved 0.15 not the contractual terms themselves 2 0.1 happy with the as respondents were 1 flexibility in negotiations. Comments 0.05 0 included ‘they were not major probTangibles Reliability Responsiveness Assurance Empathy lems and were negotiated amicably 0 SERVQUAL dimension Tangibles and professionally but the time itReliability Figure 1. Mean un-weighted client/customer expectation and perception questionnaire scores S for each SERVQUAL dimension. took meant that we were legally inseFigure 3. Mean imp cure for a long period of time and the 8 project had already 0completed before 7 the contract was in place’. Proving that -0.2 6 timely service provision was impor-0.4 said they ‘now go 5 tant, the same client elsewhere’ for similar services despite 4 -0.6 being happy with the technical outTangibles 3 -0.8 comes of the interaction. 2 This is an important lesson for uni-1 1 versities to learn. Sometimes, the risk -1.2 of losing a client because of lengthy 0 Reliability 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 contract negotiations -1.4 is more signifiQuestionnaire item number SER cant than the risk involved in performMean client expectation Mean client perception Mean unweighted SE ing the services themselves. In such Figure 2. Mean client/customer expectations and mean client/customer perceptions by cases, universities Figure might4. Mean consider weighted and un un-weighted questionnaire item number. focusing less on the legal aspects of the contract and more on the relationship aspects of the interaction. Of course, risks need For example, strong performance was shown in to be balanced and sometimes protracted contractual courteousness and individualised service but an negotiations will be important in order to reduce legal opportunity to improve performance was identified or commercial risks. Also, it is not always true that the in the dimensions of responsiveness and reliability. university is the source of delays as sometimes conResponses to individual questions within these dimentracts are held up within the industry partner’s own sions then indicated that the specific areas for improvebureaucratic processes. Universities tend to try to use ment included developing a mutual understanding their own contract templates, rather than the cusof the scope of a project; developing a streamlined tomer’s. This speeds up the negotiation process as the access process; developing a transparent access procuniversity lawyers and contract negotiators are familess; developing fair IP terms and developing strategies iar with the standard terms and can review changes to meet agreed project timeframes. These findings are quickly. Some universities in the USA even impose a not surprising and occur elsewhere in the literature. levy or higher charge-out rate for projects where the They are also commonly recurring themes of informal customer’s contract is used. feedback received by the author. Often the delay in contract negotiations is a result Siegel, Waldman, Atwater & Link (2004) found that of negotiating intellectual property (IP) ownership with virtual unanimity, scientists and firms assert that and access rights. Elsewhere, industry representauniversities are too bureaucratic and inflexible. The tives have stated that negotiating research contracts follow-up telephone conversations with customers supwith universities is becoming more difficult and timeported the literature in that customers were frustrated Mean client expectation

Mean client perception

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Importance score

SERVQUAL score

Mean questionnaire score

Mean questionnaire score

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Importance score

consuming because universities are 0.3 becoming so aggressive in protecting their intellectual property (Bhattachar0.25 jee 2006). This is a result of Australian 0.2 universities placing an increased focus on commercialisation of IP and there0.15 fore being less inclined to encumber their IP or give it away on non-com0.1 mercial terms. Amongst industry, it is 0.05 still a common misconception that ness Assurance Empathy universities are wholly funded by Gov0 ension Tangibles Reliability Responsiveness Assurance Empathy ernmentquestionnaire and this creates ation and perception scores an expectaSERVQUAL dimension dimension.tion that universities should make Figure 3. Mean importance score for each dimension. their IP available on non-commercial terms. There is also the industry per0 spective that if the research is being -0.2 fully-funded by industry, industry Assurances should own the IP. However, the terms -0.4 themselves may not be such an issue -0.6 as the time taken to negotiate them. Tangibles Empathy -0.8 For example, Berman (2008) found that IP terms may pose significant -1 Responsiveness challenges for both universities and -1.2 their industry partners; however this Reliability much because of the conflict 11 12 is13not 14so15 16 17 18 -1.4 number over ownership but rather due to the SERVQUAL dimension Mean clientpaperwork perception Mean unweighted SERVQUAL score Mean weighted SERVQUAL score and slow pace of bureaucd mean client/customer perceptions by negotiations. racy involved in such Figure 4. Mean weighted and unweighted SERVQUAL score for each dimension. re item number. Unfortunately, the sample size in this Meeting agreed timeframes, in terms of delivering study was not large enough to analyse the research/consulting services, was another area of the data by category of customer. However, Santoro concern for customers.Again, this finding is supported and Chakrabarti (2002) have found that size matin the literature. For example, Berman (2008) had one ters with respect to the types of relationships firms industry representative say that despite specified timehave with university research centres and the types lines, six months turned into three years. In our case, of technology initiatives firms pursue. They found one customer stated ‘it is an issue of over-promising that smaller firms tend to use technical consultation and under-delivering, we have our own clients who we and research for immediate problem solving whereas make promises to and if the university can’t deliver in larger firms tend to engage in non-core technology the timeframe they promise then we let our own clidevelopment to enhance long-term innovation. This ents down’. In addition, it seems that customers would finding was supported by Fukugawa (2005) who like the commercial research unit to manage liaison found that large firms are more likely to perform joint between the researcher and the customers better. One research and smaller ones consultancies. On this basis, customer stated ‘the researcher is heads down bottom it seems that the opportunity to develop longer-term up and we are heads down bottom up, so we need customer focus initiatives exists more with larger someone else to remind us to communicate and to firms than smaller firms simply because the interacensure that small issues are resolved as small issues and tions are likely to be more longer term via research not escalated into big issues’. This implies an ongoing than consulting. However, consulting projects are customer liaison role for commercial research units a good way to establish trust with an industry partand suggests that researchers require mentoring and ner and may lead to larger research contracts being reminding to establish clear processes for communicaoffered in the future.

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tion and managing expectations. The same customer went on to say that ‘being clear on what is expected and how it is communicated, touching base to ensure that there is a reality check’ are very important. There is little in the literature on the effect of the physical environment in organisations, such as universities, where customer interactions and encounters with physical surroundings are not a major component in the service offer (Oldfield & Baron 2000). The results of this study show that the tangible aspects of service delivery (e.g. equipment and facilities, questions 1 and 2) were not considered highly important. Follow-up telephone conversations also demonstrated that the tangibles service dimension was not important to the commercial research customers. For example, one client stated ‘I didn’t feel that the facilities or promotional material was as important as the people being of high calibre and quality’. Although it may not be a factor in evaluating service quality, tangible attributes are likely to be considered in the initial phases when an industry partner decided whether or not to engage with a university.The promotional material may also indirectly contribute to the customers perceived performance in terms of transparency (e.g. via Customer Service Charters or guides to accessing university resources).

Implications for the university sector Shifts to a market orientation can lead to changes in the most fundamental assumptions about the mission and purpose of higher education institutions (Anderson, 2001). Universities have tended to adopt a market approach to student recruitment but the general focus on competitive grant funding (where there is no clear client) as the primary means to fund research has meant that they have not adopted a similar culture in their research provision. Universities tend to pursue objectives such as teaching students for undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications, increasing knowledge through research and disseminating new knowledge through publications (Valentin, 2000).They don’t tend to focus on customer service to industry clients. However, excellent service pays off because it creates advocates and repeat customers. Excellent service is exactly what universities require in order to compete for industry clients and to increase total research income. In addition, public investment in Australian universities does not look as though it will dramatically vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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increase. The capped public support and increasing private interest in commercial research via universities (e.g. via widespread adoption of the open innovation model) provides a unique opportunity for the sector to increase research income via contract research. Yet, this challenge (or opportunity) does not seem to have been taken up adequately by the Australian higher education sector or individual universities in terms of their commercial research activities. It is hoped that this study will provide a step in extending the published literature regarding customer service quality in university technology transfer and commercial research units. The instrument created for this study can be used to quantify customer service quality and identifies areas of customer service that are considered important by industry. (Specifically these areas include the development of a mutual understanding of the scope of a project; a streamlined and transparent access process; fair IP terms and strategies to meet agreed project timeframes). Since universities are competing for commercial research funding, it only stands to reason that they should seek to understand and address what it is that their customers require in order to perceive the research service as being of high quality.This will then lead to repeat business, improved reputation and diversification of research interaction (e.g. from consulting to contract research to Australian Research Council Linkage applications).

Recommendations Several recommendations can be made for the conduct of future studies: • While an examination of SERVQUAL scores can be useful, additional insight can be gained by tracking the levels of expectations and perceptions through repeated administration of SERVQUAL (e.g. once every six months) (Zeithaml et al., 1990).Thus regular surveys are recommended. • Sample sizes should be increased to allow more structured analyses (e.g. to investigate differences in perception between small and large companies) and more sophisticated statistics (e.g. factor analysis). • Internal staff should be included in the surveys to determine differences between internal and external client perceptions of service quality (not performed here as we did not want to over-survey our internal clients who already participate in regular surveys), and The competition for industry research funding, Troy Coyle

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• Future studies should investigate further the specific aspects of responsiveness and reliability that can lead to improved service perceptions. The following recommendations are made to commercial research administrators: • Develop promotional material and communication strategies to improve process transparency. • Engage with industry at an early stage to ensure that project scope is mutually understood. • Focus on preparing and negotiating contracts in a timely fashion. Acknowledgement that this is an important aspect of service quality for customers may assist universities to streamline internal processes. • Coach academic staff so they understand the importance of timely provision of services, the management of client expectations and regular communications; and • Develop customer-focused initiatives and regular surveys to identify opportunities for service improvement and perceived performance. Troy Coyle is Director, Commercial Research, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.

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from <http://www.innovation.gov.au/innovationreview/Documents/NIS-reviewweb.pdf> Fisher, D & Atkinson-Grosjean, J 2002, ‘Brokers on the Boundary: AcademyIndustry Liaison in Canadian Universities’, Higher Education, 44, 449-467. Fukugawa, N 2005, ‘Characteristics of Knowledge Interactions between Universities and Small Firms in Japan’, International Small Business Journal, 23(4), 379-401. Gibbs, V 2004, ‘A Study of Consumer Expectations and Perceptions in Undergraduate Higher Education’, Journal of Diagnostic Radiography and Imaging, 5, 69-78. Kuo, Y 2003, ‘A Study on Service Quality of Virtual Community Websites’, Total Quality Management and Business Excellence, 14 4, 461-473. Laursen, K & Salter, A 2006, ‘Open for Innovation: The Role of openness in Explaining Innovation Performance Among U.K. Manufacturing Firms’, Strategic Management Journal, 27, 131-150. Lederbogen, U & Trebbe, J 2003, ‘Promoting Science on the Web’, Science Communication, 24 3, 333-352. MacPherson, A 2002, ‘The Contribution of Academic-Industry Interaction to Product Innovation: The Case of New York state’s Medical Devices Sector’, Papers in Regional Science, 81, 121-129. Oldfield, BM & Baron, S 2000, ‘Student Perceptions of Service Quality in a UK University Business and Management Faculty’, Quality Assurance in Education, 8(2), 85-95. Oliver, AL 2004, ‘Biotechnology Entrepreneurial Scientists and Their Collaborations’, Research Policy, 33, 583-597. Parasuraman, A, Berry, LL & Zeithaml, VA 1988, ‘SERVQUAL: A Multiple-Item Scale for Measuring Customer Perceptions of Service Quality’, Journal of Retailing, 64 Spring, 12-40. Parasuraman, A, Berry, LL & Zeithaml, VA 1991, ‘Refinement and Reassessment of the SERVQUAL Scale’, Journal of Retailing, 67(4), 420-450.

The author would like to acknowledge the assistance of Commercial Research Unit staff, past and present, specifically Dr Leisa Ridges and Mr Scott Morgan.

Pires, AR , Rodrigues, C & de Castro, E 2002, ‘Universities and Innovation in Regional Strategic Planning Culture, The Need for a Broader Analytical Framework for University-Industry Linkages’, Industry and Higher Education, 16(2), 113-115.

References

Riis, JO 2001, ‘Stimulating Manufacturing Excellence through University-Industry Interaction’, Industry and Higher Education, 15(6), 385-392.

Anderson, MJ 2001, ‘The Complex Relations Between the Academy and Industry’, The Journal of Higher Education, 72(2), 226-46.

Santoro, M D & Chakrabarti, A K 2002, Firm Size and Technology Centrality in Industry- University Interactions. Research Policy, 31, 1163-1180.

Bagchi-Sen, S, Hall, L & Petryshyn, L 2001, ‘A Study of University-Industry Linkages in the Biotechnology Industry: Perspectives from Canada’, International Journal of Biotechnology, 3 3/4, 390-410.

Siegel, DS, Waldman, DA , Atwater, LE, & Link, AN 2003, ‘Commercial Knowledge Transfers from Universities to Firms: Improving the Effectiveness of UniversityIndustry Collaboration’, Journal of High Technology Management Research, 14, 111-133.

Barnes, T, Pashby, I & Gibbons, A 2002, ‘Effective University-Industry Interaction: A Multi-Case Evaluation of Collaborative R&D Projects’, European Management Journal, 20(3), 272-285. Berman, J 2008, ‘Connecting with Industry: Bridging the Divide’, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 30, 165-174. Bhattacharjee, Y 2006, Industry Shrinks Academic Support. Science, 312, 671. Chesbrough, H W 2006, Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology, Harvard Business School Press. Cook, C & Heath, FM 2001, ‘Users’ Perceptions of Library Service Quality: A LibQUAL+ Qualitative Study’, Library Trends, 49(4), 548-583. Cullen, R 2006, ‘Operationalising the Focus/Values/Purpose Matrix; A Tool for Libraries to Measure their Ability to Deliver Service Quality’, Performance Measurement and Metrics, 7(2), 83-99.

Siegel, DS, Waldman, DA, Atwater, LE, & Link, AN 2004, ‘Toward a Model of the Effective Transfer of Scientific Knowledge from Academicians to Practitioner: Qualitative Evidence from the Commercialisation of University Technologies’, Journal of Engineering Technology Management, 21, 115-142. Smith, G, Smith, A & Clarke, A 2007, ‘Evaluating Service Quality in Universities: A Service Department Perspective’, Quality Assurance in Education, 15 3, 334-351. Valentin, EMM 2000, ‘University-Industry Cooperation: A Framework of Benefits and Obstacles’, Industry and Higher Education, 14 3, 165-172. Zeithaml, VA, Parasuraman, A, & Berry, LL 1990, Delivering Quality Service. Balancing Customer Perceptions and Expectations, The Free Press, New York, 226.

Cutler, T 2008, Venturous Australia: Building Strength in Innovation. Report on the Review of the National Innovation System. Retrieved 12 September, 2008,

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University Rankings 2.0 New frontiers in institutional comparisons Alex Usher Educational Policy Institute, Toronto, Canada

The number of university rankings systems in use around the world has increased dramatically over the last decade. As they have spread, they have mutated; no longer are ranking systems simply clones of the original ranking systems such as US News and World Report. A number of different types of ‘mutation’ have occurred, so that there are now varieties of rankings around the world. The purpose of this short paper is to describe these mutations and examine likely future developments in rankings as they continue to spread across the globe.

University rankings are not a new phenomenon. In fact, they date back to the beginning of the 20th century, when some US states began publishing institutional pass rates on state licensing exams in things such as law and dentistry. Later, Henry Herbert Maclean worked on a series of so-called ‘genius studies’. The first, entitled ‘Where We Get Our Best Men’, provided statistics on the nationality and educational background of the country’s most prominent scientists and men of business – the high counts for places like Harvard and Yale were taken as proof that these institutions were the country’s best. Other early attempts to classify and rank institutions involved interviews of institutional officials such as Presidents, Deans or Department Heads, either asking them what they thought of the quality of graduates of various institutions (in the case of Kendrick Babcock’s work on behalf of the US Bureau of Education and later the Association of American Universities) or asking them who they thought the ‘best men’ in their respective disciplines were and then developing rankings based on the number of ‘best men’ who matriculated at various institutions (a similar logic is at work today in the Shanghai Jiao Tong rankings’ use of alumni Nobel prizes and Field medals as an indicator). Remarkably, the top ten institutions in these ranking from over a hundred years ago looks very similar to vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

the top ten in current rankings such as US News and World Report. In the 1960s, with the development of large scientific databases such as the Science Citation Index and the Social Science Citation Index, it became possible to provide some quantitative measurements of academic staff members’ output, and various journal articles appeared comparing these. Indeed, these statistics also played some role in the 1982 Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs conducted by the US National Academy of Sciences. These rankings, perhaps because of their scientific and quantitative nature and the fact that they only purported to rank graduate programmes, did not provoke much controversy. It was only in the mid-1980s, when US News and World Report began ranking entire universities and, more specifically, touted ranking as a tool to assist in the selection of undergraduate institutions, that real controversy was aroused and people began to view rankings as a dangerously reductionist way of evaluating education. Yet, its reductionist character was also part of what intrigued the public about rankings: they appeared to illuminate certain aspect of institutional quality which had previously appeared opaque. And, as tuition fees began to appear in new countries (such as in the UK and China in the late 1990s) or increase rapidly (such as Canada in the early University Rankings 2.0, Alex Usher

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1990s), the need for consumer guides to evaluate educational investments grew, and rankings seemed to fit that bill rather nicely. These original ‘classic’ rankings – such as US News and World Report and other closely modelled on it like Canada’s Maclean’s rankings or Poland’s Rzeszpospolita – essentially shared seven key features. In North America, these seven features are often believed to be intrinsic to rankings even though (as we shall see) rankings that violate each of the seven attributes exist. These features of classic rankings are: • They focus on the undergraduate experience and are intended as tools to help guide students and parents choose between institutions. Their choice of indicators is thus made with this end in mind. • They are national in scope, dealing with a single domestic education market. • They compared entire institutions. That is to say that the units being compared were entire institutions rather than smaller units such as faculties and departments. • Rankings were done on an ordinal scale, arrived at using scored indicators which were aggregated and summed. • Data and rankings were presented so as to present a single story; there could be only one ‘winner’: • Data tended to come from either ‘official’ government sources or surveys of institutions themselves. • The process of ranking was managed by commercial media outlets. However, as rankings have spread around the world, a number of different rankings efforts have managed to violate every single one of these principles. The first major area where these principles were breached was with respect to rankings being solely about undergraduate education. Among the most famous rankings on the world now are the Shanghai Jiao Tong’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), where the indicators are almost exclusively concerned with research. Indeed, a number of rankings, particularly in Asia, are now largely concerned with research performance and are not properly speaking dealing with issues of undergraduate quality. Closely related to this was the issue of doing international rankings, which was first done by the magazine Asiaweek in the late 1990s, when it tried to rank universities across Asia. More recently, both the ARWU and the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS)-Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) rankings have also provided international comparisons as well. International rank-

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ings almost by definition are more likely than national rankings to rely on research metrics for indicators. This is because institutions in different countries collect data in very different ways; as a result, bibliometrics are in effect the only internationally comparable metric available. Across most of Europe, rankings are now available which compare departments rather than whole institutions. The Netherlands’ Keuzegids Hoger Onderwijs and Elsevier rankings, the UK’s Guardian and Italy’s La Repubblica rankings are all examples of this phenomenon. In effect, these rankings disaggregate institutions to their constituent parts (a process which many within the academy believe is a much more valid form of comparison). These same European rankings also do away with the process of weighting individual indicators; the results of each indicator are presented separately, though most continue to show the schools (or departments) with the best scores across all indicators at the top. In a couple of cases, however – most notably Germany’s CHE rankings – the rankers go one step further and do away with the concept of even presenting ‘top’ institutions. Instead, by using the interactivity of the web and liberating themselves from the newspaper or magazine format’s requirement to tell a single story, they allow users to rank institutions based on their own choice of indicators (these rankings are sometimes called ‘personalised’ rankings, or ‘do-it-yourself’ rankings). Another recent innovation in rankings is the increased use of survey data. While surveys of educators and employers have long played a role in obtaining data for reputational rankings, only recently have surveys of students and their views of their schools and their educational experiences begun to play a role. Germany’s CHE rankings and Canada’s Globe and Mail rankings both have a number of indicators which are populated by student survey data, as do the Dutch and Italian rankings noted above. This appears to show some promise in developing those ranking systems that wish to provide information to students using rankings to choose between undergraduate institutions because of the way they can provide real information about what institutions are really like. The final and perhaps most interesting recent innovation in rankings is their adoption as a policy instrument by governments or government agencies in many countries. In a number of countries – Taiwan, Nigeria, Kazakhstan and Pakistan to name but a few – rankings are now being published by governmental or paravol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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governmental agencies as a tool to encourage institutions to strive for excellence.This fundamental change in the nature of rankings is more art than science, and one that many rankers themselves find somewhat troubling, not least because they themselves understand the limitations of the data and the way that weighting and aggregating indicators. Though rankings have angered many, they seem set to continue to spread around the globe because they represent a convenient heuristic device for making the massive complexities of the university enterprise understandable. As time goes on, however, there is an increasing understanding that rankings – at least those of the sort where indicator scores are weighted and aggregated to produce a single overall score and hence a sort of ‘league table’ – are essentially limited in that the choice of indicators and weights imposes a single definition of institutional quality. Since educational quality is really in the eye of the beholder and there are many possible definitions of quality, any single set of rankings will inevitably do an injustice to other definitions of quality. This does not necessarily mean that rankings are invalid – rather it means that multiple sets of rankings are required to pick up multiple definitions of quality. The problem at the moment is that where we do find multiple rankings, they tend to show similar results – at the top at least. With global rankings now on the scene, most countries now have at least three different observations on their country’s institutional performance.At the very top, they all tend to show the same thing – Harvard, Stanford and Yale are invariably top in the United States, as are Oxford and Cambridge in the United Kingdom, Toronto and McGill in Canada, and Beijing and Tsinghua in China. Where they disagree is further down the table – it is rare, for instance, that there is unanimity about which is the fifth-best university in a country. What this suggests is that the various rankings out there now are probably not measuring what they think they are measuring. Regardless of what indicators they select, most seem to be indirectly measuring some combination of institutional age (it is rare that a country’s oldest institutions are not among its highest ranked), institutional size and financial clout. In other words, inputs. The challenge, then, is to find other sets of indicators that can measure throughputs and value added in a more systematic way. This brings us to the question of data quality and data gathering. One of the most important things to understand about rankings is that vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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their authors are fundamentally constrained by data collection. In many places, data on what universities actually do simply isn’t very good, or is not collected in a consistent way across institutions.As a result, they tend to gravitate to the pieces of information that are easiest to collect, namely: inputs (student marks, finances and academic staff), research outputs (bibliometrics) and reputational surveys. Of these three, only bibliometrics really works on an international basis. Inputs are almost impossible to collect on a transnational basis and reputational surveys are bedevilled by problems of survey response rates (though this hasn’t stopped Quacquarelli Symonds gamely trying these on). What they tend to ignore are serious aspects of the student experience such as teaching and institutional service missions. It is for this reason that the emerging practice of using student surveys in ranking seems likely to catch on. By asking questions about student satisfaction, student experiences and student engagement, one can get reasonably comparable data about the general learning environment at different institutions. This applies to both national and international comparisons: the growth of Germany’s CHE approach (it now runs similar rankings in both Switzerland and the Netherlands) seems to point to the possibility that international rankings might in time be able to transcend mere bibliometrics and provide a degree of multi-dimensionality which has hitherto been lacking in many rankings. No doubt, as time goes on, the limits and drawbacks of this approach will become more apparent. It is not clear, for instance, that all students enter with similar expectations about the quality of university services and this may systematically distort any rankings based on satisfaction. It is also not clear that the results of surveys on teacher satisfaction in North America and Europe are likely to be comparable to those in Asia, where teachers are generally accorded much greater respect. Nevertheless, as international rankings proliferate this seems certain to be a trend to watch, and the recent decision of the European Union to proceed with a pan-European ranking based largely on the CHE model makes it even more likely that this approach will spread. The other possible significant development in rankings in the near-term is the emergence of some international standards in the reporting of institutional data. Though QS only reports on six indicators in its rankings, it has quietly been collecting data on a number of other indicators in its annual institutional survey to University Rankings 2.0, Alex Usher

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see if it is in fact possible to harmonise certain data definitions (for instance, on volumes held in libraries). Should QS succeed in developing some kind of acceptable standard for reporting this kind of data, one would expect institutions around the world to adopt it fairly quickly as not only would it creep into rankings, but it would also provide institutions with some benchmarks that they currently lack. In the developing world at least, this would almost certainly be met with eagerness, at least by those institutions that have pretensions of joining the global elite. A final point is that rankings are almost certain to continue spreading at a very rapid pace in the developing world. In developing countries, rankings are seen as beneficial for two main reasons: 1. They can encourage institutional transparency and create a culture of quality measurement in education. Higher education the world over has transparency issues, but this effect is multiplied in developing countries where nothing like a system of institutional research yet exists. But with no transparency, how can institutions be expected to improve? Rankings are not the only possible way to improve this situation, but they can play a role in changing institutional culture around self-assessment and data collection.

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2. They can act as a spur to improved institutional performance. In more market-driven systems, rankings are often accused of being a leading force in the ‘marketisation’ of higher education. In countries like Vietnam or Kazakhstan, where market forces in higher education are weak, this is precisely why governments like the idea of rankings. In the absence of market forces, only techniques such as rankings – which has a kind of ‘name and shame’ aspect as far as poor performers are concerned – can get institutions to pay serious attention to remedying perceived lags in performance. It has by now perhaps become trite to observe that ‘university rankings are here to stay’. But what is clear from this short survey is that not only are they certain to stay - they are also going to evolve. Already, we have seen tremendous mutations in terms of rankings’ purposes, methods of data collection, methods of data display, and choices of indicator. There is no reason to think that the innovation has yet stopped; indeed it is perhaps just beginning. Alex Usher is the Vice-President (Research) and Director (Canada) of the Educational Policy Institute (EPI), Toronto, Canada

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REVIEWS

The virtuous researcher Researching with integrity: The ethics of academic enquiry by Bruce Macfarlane New York: Routledge. 2009, ISBN: 978-0-415-42904-7 Review by Margaret Lindorff

Macfarlane begins this book by arguing that the ethical principles which are often used to guide researchers and institutional Human Research Ethics Committees are insufficient. Rather than being guided by principles of respect for persons, beneficence, and justice, he argues that in order to be ethical researchers need to develop integrity. It is an approach based upon virtue theory, which attempts to identify those characteristics which make for goodness, or an excellent character. He argues that the virtuous researcher shows courage, respectfulness, resoluteness, sincerity, humility and reflexivity. Put another way, he argues that such characteristics indicate integrity. The book begins by describing those events which led to the development of codes of conduct for biomedical research, and how these have been extended to apply to non-medical research. It then suggests that such an approach to research ethics is limited, and argues that it is better that individual researchers develop integrity rather than rely on the application of principles found in Codes of Conduct. The second section of the book examines in sequence what it means to ‘live the virtues’ previously described. At times I found the link between the content and ‘the ethics of social enquiry’ quite tenuous as, for example, when it described the need for courage in asking difficult questions and dealing with setbacks and challenges to established conventions. Other chapters, such as the one on the need for ‘respectfulness’ toward research participants and others, seem much more useful in helping to understand the issues involved in being a researcher with integrity. The final section begins with a look at many of the issues which affect researchers on a macro scale, such as the performative pressures placed upon academics, and subsequent pressures to become first author on vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

as many high quality, frequently cited, publications as possible. It then moves on to critique the principlebased teaching of research ethics in graduate postgraduate training courses, and suggests a move to the use of virtue theory. In particular, he argues that many courses teach compliance to codes rather than facilitating a personal understanding of ethical issues, and emphasise malpractice and misconduct rather than good practice – the latter a puzzling criticism as the book itself provides many descriptions of similar cases. The author then argues that virtue theory allows students to identify and connect with their own values, and link these to the research process. The book concludes with an argument that researching is a ‘moral imperative’ for academics. He then links the characteristics of the ‘virtuous researcher’ with the day-to-day activities of the researcher. The book is much wider in focus than the Australian National Statement on Research Involving Humans’ (NH&MRC, 2007) focus on the effect of research on human participants. It raises issues that apply to all researchers, including those in undertaking research non-human topics such as pure mathematics or astronomy. In some ways it reinforces what most researchers know – including the pressures to publish in particular areas, the need for resoluteness and flexibility when research ideas or project seem to come to a ‘dead end’, the need for truthfulness rather than concealment or exaggeration, authorship disputes, the existence of zealots and assassins in the peer review system, the citation game, politics and personality. However, I found the reflections on these issues interesting, and the link with researcher integrity was useful. However, I am not sure how relevant the text is for those wishing guidance with ethical issues related to The virtuous researcher, Review by Margaret Lindorff

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human research. Despite Macfarlane’s criticisms of documents such as Australia’s National Statement, I think such ethical guidelines better sensitise and provide guidance to researchers on the relevant ethical issues in medical and non-medical research. The book does serve to introduce graduate students to some of the issues they will face as they develop into experienced researchers, and as such it does have a role in sensitising early career researchers to the issues

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they will face as they develop their own research identity. It could therefore be used as an addition to existing principle-based research ethics teaching material. Margaret Lindorff is an associate professor in the Department of Management at Monash University, Victoria, Australia and Associate Chair of the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee.

Waiting for Gough Gough Whitlam: A Moment in History. The Biography, Volume I by Jenny Hocking The Miegunyah Press/Melbourne University Publishing, Carlton, 2008. ISBN 9780522855111 Review by Paul Rodan

It is likely that many readers of this journal owe their first and or subsequent degrees to Gough Whitlam, with his free tertiary education policy sandwiched between the era of university fees/Commonwealth scholarships/State teaching bonds and the introduction of HECS under Dawkins/Hawke. Moreover, no Prime Minister since has been as convincing as Whitlam in promoting the transformative nature of education and its critical role in the social democratic project. His observation that every child was entitled to a desk and a lamp for study in the home was at once simple and profound. Jenny Hocking, distinguished biographer of Lionel Murphy and Frank Hardy, faced a daunting task, although her choice of subjects suggests no discomfort with controversy. This first volume (of two) takes the reader from Whitlam’s pre-history to the 1972 policy speech, a neat and functional division. Her research on family ancestry led to the revelation that Whitlam’s paternal grandfather served time (for forging and uttering), a fact apparently unknown to Whitlam himself. Clearly, the great man’s education was more dominated by exposure to the ancient history of Greece and Rome than to more recent family ‘achievements’.

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Hocking plots effectively the development of the young Whitlam. His father, a distinguished Commonwealth public servant, was a civilised progressive and the son’s political leanings appear to have been in no doubt. Moreover, the family’s location in Canberra in the capital’s early years helped Gough develop a belief in the potential of the central government unencumbered by undue concern for the colonies and their pretensions. War experience reinforced this view for Whitlam (as for others), and like other biographers before her, Hocking stresses the role of the 1944 powers referendum in propelling him in the direction of an eventual political career. Still, the guiding spirit was, in the Australian tradition, pragmatic rather than radical. His focus was on what change would best deliver a fair and efficient society, and he entered parliament better read in Plutarch than in Marx or Mill. This, of course, would not deter a generation of reactionary critics, resentful of what they saw as Whitlam’s class treachery, from depicting him as some sort of antipodean Lenin. The parliamentary Labor Party which Whitlam joined in 1953 contained personal and ideological conflicts and hatreds which would help condemn the party to opposition until 1972. Its members were vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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predominantly old in age and/or outlook. The caucus contained as many Boer War veterans as those who had seen action in World War II. Even without the 1955 party split, it is not clear that this group could have lured voters from their infatuation with Menzies and the new affluence, but after that fracture, the party effectively ceased to function as a relevant opposition: only 1961 delivered an electoral contest, aided by the credit squeeze. For the most part, federal Labor existed as an introspective, self-destructive pressure group, more concerned with internal retribution than with operating as an essential component in a functioning democratic system. At times, Hocking captures this well, but perhaps not completely enough. Insufficient attention is given to the reality that in slowly making Labor more electable, Whitlam restored a key element of Australian democracy: competitive elections. Granted, this is not a book on democratic theory, but it should be remembered that by the mid 1960s, serious academic, media and practitioner commentators could credibly pose the question as to whether Labor would survive: Whitlam ended that discussion. (Perhaps, this analysis will come in the author’s conclusions in the second volume.) As Hocking makes clear, Whitlam’s emergence, as deputy and then leader, was not due to some abundance of affection flowing from his caucus colleagues. Indeed, his arrogance and aloofness made for few hard core admirers. But, he had worked his backside off during the 1950s, had become an accomplished parliamentary performer and was more than competent in the emerging medium of television. If his election as deputy in 1960 was something of a shock (in the end, ancient pre-Whitlam hatreds were decisive), by 1967 his election as leader was inevitable. The author paints a rich picture of the struggle in which Whitlam engaged as Opposition Leader, encompassing ‘party, policy, people’, that is reform of the archaic ALP structure; the development and dissemination of relevant and appealing policy; the securing of popular electoral support. Even Whitlam’s harshest critics would have to acknowledge the sheer courage and energy which he brought to this crusade. While Hocking captures some of the flavour of the Whitlam/Jim Cairns rivalry, she neglects to locate it in the broader context of progressive politics, where a struggle over parliamentary politics versus direct action would be waged into the early 1970s, especially amongst the left in universities. vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

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In the development of policies, nothing was more important than education, with the abolition of tertiary fees a distinctive feature. Moreover,Whitlam was keen to utilise university-based expertise in policy development across many areas, an achievement in itself given residual anti-intellectualism in sections of the Labor Party. In the promulgation of policy,Whitlam was the first Opposition Leader to institute a shadow cabinet, something now taken for granted by parties in opposition. What should have been a rewarding reading experience was spoiled in part by an unacceptably large number of factual and related errors, including confusion of the ALP’s Federal Conference and Executive (a failing usually beaten out of first year undergraduates in Politics 101). Other examples: Holt is killed off in 1966 (instead of 1967); Bob Hawke is identified prematurely as ACTU President in 1967; Moss Cass makes it into a shadow cabinet in 1967 although not elected to parliament until 1969.And, it will be news to the ghosts of Curtin and Macarthur (and probably to RAAF navigator Whitlam) that Australia had an ‘unaligned’ foreign policy during World War II. Some readers might take umbrage at Arthur Calwell being described as ‘aging’ when not yet fifty five years old, although others might regard him as having been born ‘aging’. Such flaws (somewhat ironical given Whitlam’s own reputation for attention to detail) are incompatible with dust-jacket claims of ‘scrupulous research’ and reflect on author, research support and (perhaps most importantly) publisher. Sadly, this problem is not unique to this volume, and if publishers are cutting corners on QA costs, they may need to think again. In this case, the proximity of the Christmas market left this political aficionado drawing some cynical conclusions about a rushed product. One hopes for fewer such problems with the second volume. The volume concludes with the leader on stage delivering his famous election campaign speech in November 1972. Unfortunately for Whitlam and his supporters, any suspense would be contrived: we know how the story ends, not happily. But, those fascinated by the era will await with keen interest the second volume, detailing the brief, turbulent years of government. Paul Rodan is Director of CQUniversity’s Intercultural Education Research Institute, and a member of the AUR Editorial Board.

Waiting for Gough, Review by Paul Rodan

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Free trade in education Teaching in Transnational Higher Education: Enhancing learning for offshore international students by Lee Dunn and Michelle Wallace (eds) ISBN: 978-0-415-42054-9 Routledge, New York 2008. ISBN: 978-0-415-42054-9 Review by Paul Kniest Lee Dunn and Michelle Wallace from Southern Cross University have compiled an extensive and highly diverse volume of articles that address various challenges and opportunities that universities, both in Australia and overseas, face in delivering transnational (offshore) education. For readers who are not familiar with the language used, transnational (or offshore) education is where students are located in a different country to the institution offering the program. The volume is divided into four parts that deal with current issues, perspectives on teaching, perspectives on learning and implications for institutions respectively. The breadth of articles included ensures that a number of controversial issues in relation to offshore education are covered. Ziguras and McBurnie (Chapter 1) argue that while the inclusion of education in free trade agreements has made little progress, there is strong evidence that policy developments in individual countries are being highly influenced by the principles of free trade. Jelfs (Chapter 4) directly analyses the growth of transnational education delivered online and concludes that this is very much driven by economic motives, often to the potential detriment of students. Doorbar and Bateman (Chapter 2) however, note the growth in international partnerships between institutions, emphasising the importance of strategic objectives such as local capacity-building including joint research and staff development opportunities. The growth in the partnership or joint venture model of transnational education is also reinforced by Huang (Chapter 3) who examines the regulation of transnational education in China, the fastest growing market in recent years. Without doubt the most interesting and challenging aspect of transnational education raised in this volume relates to the question of the desirability of adopting the content (or delivery) of transnational educational

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programs to take into account cultural differences between groups of students. Ziguras (Chapter 5),Wang (Chapter 6) and Carroll (Chapter 9) emphasise the importance of taking intercultural differences into account in relation to various aspects of transnational educational programs including course development, delivery and student assessment, including plagiarism. Wang, however, warns against the danger of the all too often adopted practice of simply relying on cultural stereotypes in relation to Asian students. Egege and Kutlieleh (Chapter 7) on the other hand, argue that cultural differences between students is not necessarily reflected in different learning styles across groups of students and therefore concludes that too much is made in emphasising difference. A number of other articles address the risks and challenges host universities face in delivering transnational education. Debowski (Chapter 19) offers an overview of the potential risks including reputational risk as a result of poor quality associated with the teaching and learning experiences of both students and staff engaged in offshore programs. McBurnie (Chapter 18) proposes a number of strategies universities should adopt to avoid the risks associated with failing to properly implement institutional, national and international quality assurance mechanisms,The importance of quality assurance in transnational educational programs is also the subject of a number of other articles including Chapters 20 and 21. A number of articles address particular aspects of quality assurance including course design (Chapters 8, 10 and 12), course delivery (Chapters 13 and 14), student assessment (Chapter 9) and staff development (Chapters 11, 16 and 22). In summary this volume entitled, Teaching in Transnational Higher Education provides a broad scope of perspectives on a number of issues confronting those involved in the regulation, administration, delivery and provision of student support for transnational vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


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education. By highlighting the importance of these issues, the volume provides a very good starting point for anyone wishing to gain an insight into the current debate on issues affecting transnational education.

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Paul Kniest is Policy and Research Coordinator, NTEU. Prior to joining NTEU, Paul taught economics at the University of Newcastle and has been directly involved in the preparation and delivery of several offshore courses.

Cheaters’ superhighway Plagiarism, the Internet and Student Learning: Improving Academic Integrity by Wendy Sutherland-Smith Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, New York and Abingdon, UK. 2008. ISBN: 978-0-415-43293-1 Review by Helen Song-Turner As indicated by its title, this book highlights the challenging environment within which we might understand the phenomenon of plagiarism in contemporary life. ‘Plagiarism is a complex and changing phenomenon that cannot be understood through just one theoretical lens’ (p. 201). The author’s research perspective echoes some previous research findings on plagiarism showing that reliance on any single strategic approach of providing students with information relating to plagiarism, or the implementation of a stringent institutional plagiarism policy, or using a ‘technological fix’ of detection software, have not been successful deterrents. In this book, the author combines theoretical understandings from critical legal theory, literary theory and cross-cultural studies plus qualitative empirical research on plagiarism identified through six elements of plagiarism. A ‘plagiarism continuum’ model has been developed, presenting an innovative and fresh look at the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of plagiarism. The model identifies the central element of plagiarism-‘intention’ as the central axis and runs from one end of the axis as intentional actions (by students to gain an unfair advantage over their peers) transiting gradually to the ‘blurring’ area of intentional and unintentional plagiarism, (where students mimic or ‘patchwrite’ as they engage in the process of learning academic writing genres and conventions), to the far right of the axis ending with unintentional plagiarism. By tracing back to the birth of plagiarism, the author skilfully unpacks the direct connection between plagiarism and its legal vol. 51, no. 2, 2009

roots in history. The author provides the link between the legal notion of authorship to allegations of plagiarism in academic works, which refers to ‘using copyrighted and non copyrighted work without attribution or acknowledgement, is known in education settings as plagiarism.’ (p. 54) Subsequently, along the ‘intention’ axis, the author presents a range of approaches to plagiarism policy and various levels of penalties associated with committing acts of plagiarism to help readers appreciate the tensions that are inherent in the different interpretation of plagiarism and various ways in which plagiarism is managed. Defining plagiarism in a way that is meaningful for dealing with its consequences is not an easy matter. The axis of intention alone is not enough (p. 201). The author then turns to explore the real-world experiences of teachers and students with respect to plagiarism. In particular, the perception and views of international students, the sub cohort student group that has been caught in the centre of media attention about plagiarism and cheating (p. 7) have been heard. These views were then mapped into the plagiarism continuum model that was drawn from the literature and previous studies (p. 124). The author has emphasised two particular issues, one is the internet, and the other is teaching approaches. In the age of the internet, we live in a self-inflicted culture: On one hand, we try to assert ever-increasing control and protection over ownership of literary products thus requiring students to reserve and follow Cheaters’ superhighway, Review by Helen Song-Turner

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this system. On the other hand, the increased ease of using digital technology and the internet have altered and re-articulated the concept and role of ‘ownership’ of texts. The efficiency of cutting, pasting and reediting shared public resources from the internet makes it unnecessary to respect the ‘ownership’ or source of the texts. As the author states, in the world of hypertext, students’ perceptions are different to the teachers, despite explicit teaching about plagiarism. This dilemma leads us to ponder what the ultimate purpose of identifying plagiarism is and the nature of education itself. Punish the perpetrators? Preserving traditional education practices? Or find a way to relate to students’ perceptions and reshape the ethics of writing and research in higher education? The challenges seem to be entering into the student world and a constructive dialogue is ensuing. Using this thread the author points us towards an examination of practices of teaching and learning approaches. In examining teaching approaches, two different approaches and perspectives of plagiarism are discussed in detail. The very approach that teachers use in their daily teaching and assessment practices influences the approaches that students take to learning in various fields of study (p. 152). The author challenges the transmissive teaching approach, which is necessary and understandable, but perhaps overstates the effectiveness of transformative teaching approaches in the multinational education environment. I support the thought that deterring plagiarism should be based on the principle of good teaching without denying the advantages of transformative teaching approaches. However, this teaching approach (in fact both teaching approaches) assumes that all students are capable and specifically possess the language proficiency necessary to participate in the classroom and achieve the objectives the transformative approach aims for. Yet this assumption may not be valid for some international students, at least for some first year or newlyarrived overseas students. More generally, in using this plagiarism continuum model, teachers, managers and policy-makers are able

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to reflect on their teaching approaches, managerial and marketing approaches to higher education as well as reassessing the effectiveness of their plagiarism policy and procedures in handling the complex issues of plagiarism. The aim of this book has been handsomely achieved, and much more as well. Regrettably, despite the clear explanation of this model in the text, the diagram representing the model is somewhat confusing. The vertical double-arrow axis, which points out teaching approach on the top and approaches to plagiarism on the bottom, is meaningless if it is only used to separate two different teaching approaches and approaches to plagiarism without ranking or level changes. The bullet items under ‘Transformative’ teaching approach are the same as the items under ‘Transmissive’ approach and leave the reader wondering what is the difference between those two approaches. In addition, the dotted line of the boundary may be unknown to the reader unless a legend is included in the diagram. [Editor’s note: the author reports that there is an error in the diagram not picked up at proofing stage. The version of the diagram printed does not make it clear that there are two sides to the plagiarism continuum]. Nevertheless, the significance of this book, especially the plagiarism continuum model as presented, extends beyond its excellent depth and breadth of research and theoretical sophistication. In particular, it provides a means of conceptualising plagiarism and directions on how to respond to the changes that the phenomenon of plagiarism poses for all parties in the education area. It also presents a holistic approach for all parties including staff, students and the university to share the responsibility for academic integrity rather than leaving the responsibility to any one stakeholder. To the author’s credit, indeed, it is a timely and practical handbook for all teachers, administrators and policy makers to navigate in the mushy ‘plagiarism’ land. Helen Song-Turner is a lecturer in the School of Business, University of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.

vol. 51, no. 2, 2009


Australian Universitiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Review

Want to receive your own copy of Australian Universitiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Review (AUR)? AUR is published by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) to encourage debate and discussion about issues in higher education and its contribution to Australian public life. The journal is published twice a year. NTEU members are entitled to receive a free subscription on an opt-in basis, so you need to let us know. If you are an NTEU member and would like to receive your own copy of AUR please contact the Union by emailing aur@nteu.org.au. Subscription rates for non-members available at www.aur.org.au. If you would like to become a member of NTEU, please contact the local Branch office at your institution or join online at www.nteu.org.au.


Respect at work isâ&#x20AC;Ś e l b a n o s a e r A

d a o l work Everyone deserves respect at work.

To find our more about how collective bargaining can increase respect at work visit:

www.universitybargaining.com.au


AUR 51 02