AUR 57 02

Page 1

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015 Published by NTEU

ISSN 0818–8068

AUR

Australian Universities’Review


AUR Editor Dr Ian R. Dobson, Federation University Australia

AUR Editorial Board Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President Professor Timo Aarrevaara, University of Helsinki Professor Walter Bloom, Murdoch University Professor Jamie Doughney, Victoria University Professor Leo Goedegebuure, University of Melbourne Professor Jeff Goldsworthy, Monash University Professor Dr Simon Marginson, University of London Mr Grahame McCulloch, NTEU General Secretary Dr Alex Millmow, Federation University Australia Dr Neil Mudford, UNSW@ADFA Professor Paul Rodan, Swinburne University of Technology Harry Rolfe, CAPA National President Dr Leesa Wheelahan, University of Toronto

Production Design & layout: Paul Clifton Editorial Assistance: Anastasia Kotaidis Cover photograph: Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, University of Technology, Sydney, designed by Frank Gehry. Photo by William Wanyama, www.flickr.com/photos/williamwanyama © 2014. Used with permission.

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(King, 2004, p. 314).

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vol. 57, no. 2, 2015 Published by NTEU

ISSN 0818–8068

Australian Universities’ Review 3

Letter from the editor Ian R Dobson

ARTICLES 5

Using outperformance pay to motivate academics: Insiders’ accounts of promises and problems

60 A new ‘ERA’ of women and leadership: The gendered impact of quality assurance in Australian Higher Education Briony Lipton

This paper problematises quality assurance measures such as the Australian Government’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative and reveals the tensions between neoliberalism and equality in a new era of higher education management.

Laurie Field & Verity Greenwood

Many researchers have investigated the appropriateness of pay for outperformance, (also called ‘merit-based pay’ and ‘performancebased pay’) for academics, but a review of this body of work shows that the voice of academics themselves is largely absent. 17 Indigenous Australia: A profile of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education student population Judith Wilks & Katie Wilson

This paper brings together recent statistics relating to the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in higher education. 31 Perceptions of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework 2014: A small survey of academics Tony Murphy & Daniel Sage

This paper examines the findings of a small survey of social science academics about the workings of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) and its predecessor the Research Assessment Framework (RAE). 37 Blurred boundaries: Negotiating a common core subject in a multi-faculty Bachelor of Environments degree Andrys Onsman & Clare Newton

While the most ‘Melbourne Model’ degrees primarily aligned with their cognate faculty, one degree, the Bachelor of Environments, was taught across four faculties. This paper analyses the strategies being used to reach consensus following the most recent review. 46 Ghosts in the machine: Incarcerated students and the Digital University Susan Hopkins

Providing higher education to offenders in custody has become an increasingly complex business in the age of digital learning. Most Australian prisoners still have no direct access to the internet and relatively unreliable access to information technology. 54 Is the university system in Australia producing deep thinkers? Warren W Lake & William E Boyd

Teaching and learning research since the 1980s has established a trend in students’ learning approach tendencies, characterised by decreasing surface learning and increasing deep learning with increasing age.

OPINION 71 Too few or perhaps too many STEM graduates Bob Birrell

Industry bodies, research and educational organisations have lobbied intensely for increased funding for training in the STEM disciplines. It is time to reassess this advocacy. 79 University satellite campus management models Doug Fraser & Ken Stott

Among the 60 or so university satellite campuses in Australia are many that are probably failing to meet the high expectations of their universities and the communities they were designed to serve. . 84 Are we serious about keeping women in science? Kate White

Research has identified that women experience both direct and indirect discrimination in science laboratories. 87 The university model is a victim of its own success Matthew Mitchell

There is a perception that radical change in the higher education sector is inevitable. This paper argues that the university model of higher education is fundamentally sound and by implication, is not necessarily subject to the same forces acting on other industries. 91 The knowledge economy and university workers Raewyn Connell

This article is a condensed analysis of the developing crisis of Australian universities, based on an address to the NTEU National Council in October 2014. 96 The new broom: A fiction for our times with true quotes Arthur O’Neill

Stranger than fiction? This article spins a yarn about the appointment of a new VC. REVIEWS 101 Half full or half empty? Through a Glass Darkly: The Social Sciences Look at the Neoliberal University by Margaret Thornton (Ed.). Reviewed by Paul Rodan


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104 What’s up, Doc?

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119 ‘By the authority vested in me…’

Enhancing the Doctoral Experience. A Guide for Supervisors and their International Students by Steve Hutchinson, Helen Lawrence & Dave Filipovic-Carter. ´

International Trends in University Governance: Autonomy, self-government and the distribution of authority by Michael Shattock (Ed.).

Reviewed by Andrys Onsman

Reviewed by Jen Tsen Kwok

108 STEMming the tide The Age of STEM – Educational policy and practice across the world in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics by Brigid Freeman, Simon Marginson & Russell Tytler (Eds.). Reviewed by Neil Mudford

111 STEMing the tide? Keeping Women in Science by Kate White. Reviewed by Carroll Graham

113 Origins of the species Origins: A Sustainable Concept in Education by Fred Dervin & Hanna Ragnarsdóttir (Eds.). Reviewed by Dennis Bryant

114 Write on! Writing Education Research. Guidelines for Publishable Scholarship by Joy Egbert & Sherry Sanden. Reviewed by Arthur O’Neill

116 Inspiration, perspiration and aspiration Education from a deeper and multidisciplinary perspective: A futuristic view by Chandana Wotagodakumbura. Review by Dennis Bryant

117 Fiddling with STEM? Check your vision first

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121 (Why do you) Build me up, (Build me up), Buttercup University Trends. Contemporary Campus Design by Jonathan Coulson, Paul Roberts & Isabelle Taylor. Reviewed by Andrys Onsman

124 Got to pick a pocket or two Students, Markets and Social Justice: Higher Education Fee and Student Support Policies in Western Europe and Beyond by Hubert Ertl & Claire Dupuy (Eds). Reviewed by Raj Sharma

126 Scotty, dean me up! Inside the Role of the Dean by Renee T. Clift, John Loughran, Geoffrey E. Mills and Cheryl J. Craig (Eds.). Reviewed by Andrys Onsman

128 Schooling with use-value – Learning from the USA Schooling Corporate Citizens: How Accountability Reform Has Damaged Civic Education and Undermined Democracy by Ronald W. Evans. Review by Thomas Klikauer

131 Desktop resource for institutional research Institutional Research and Planning in Higher Education: Global Contexts and Themes by Karen Webber & Angel Calderon (Eds). Reviewed by Nigel Palmer

Falling Behind? Boom, Bust & the Global Race for Scientific Talent by Michael S. Teitelbaum. Reviewed by Neil Mudford

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Letter from the editor Ian R Dobson Australian Universities’ Review (AUR) seeks to encourage

and another volume of STEM-related papers edited by

debate and discussions about issues in higher education,

Brigid Freeman, Russell Tytler and AUR editorial board

and based on the contents of the second edition of 2015, it

member Simon Marginson. At the same time, Kate White

has met this goal. Several important (and sometimes over-

looks at the relatively poor outcomes relating to retaining

lapping) issues are covered, including performance-based

women in science. Coincidentally, this issue of AUR also

pay (now known as outperformance pay, apparently),

includes a book review of Kate’s recently-published book

universities

on the topic, by Carroll Graham.

and

gender, Indigenous

students, the

contemporary university and the STEM disciplines. These

Continuing the theme of women in higher education,

issues (and others) are covered in a mixture of refereed

Briony Lipton examines the gendered impact of research

articles, opinion pieces and book reviews.

performance assessment in Australia, considering the

Laurie Field notes (among other things) that in discussions about outperformance pay, the views of

different career trajectories followed by women and men in the academy.

academics are ‘largely absent’, responses from business

The Melbourne Model: the University of Melbourne’s

school academics differ from those of other academics,

vision for the brave new world has received a little

and that the practice of outperformance pay fails to meet

attention in some quarters. However, the paper by Andrys

the rhetoric espoused about it. Ain’t that the way!

Onsman and Clare Newton provides rather more detail

Tony Murphy and Daniel Sage also asked academics

than we’re used to on one particular undergraduate

for their opinions. In their case, they conducted a small

degree available as part of the (once-known-as) Melbourne

survey of academics in the UK, seeking their opinions

Model. Life wasn’t meant to be easy! (Apparently). Andrys

on the Research Excellence Framework. In addition to

also pops up with a couple of book reviews.

concerns about the state of staff morale, heavy teaching

Susan Hopkins considers the situation for incarcerated

and administration burdens were noted as pressure points.

students and their access to higher education. Privatisation

Judith Wilks and Katie Wilson have produced a paper

of prisons and the strong drift of universities towards

that covers a couple of my own interests: access and

de facto privatisation have meant that ‘economistic’

equity, and statistical interpretations of Australian higher

pressures and priorities hold sway. ‘Without specialised

education.Their paper draws together a range of statistics

support and materials, incarcerated students may pay the

on Indigenous students, and reconfirms the fact that these

price of converging neoliberal reforms’, she says.

students continue to be greatly underrepresented at our universities. Matters relating to the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering

Other papers look at deep learners (Warren Lake and William Boyd), managing university satellite campuses

and

mathematics

receive

overlapping coverage in this issue of AUR. Bob Birrell

(there are more than 60 of them, according to Doug Fraser and Ken Stott), and an examination of the university model being a victim of its own success, by Matthew Mitchell.

suggests that the advocacy for increased funding for

Raewyn Connell presented her thoughts on the

STEM training needs to be reassessed. In particular, he

knowledge economy and university workers at the NTEU

notes that domestic information technology graduates

National Council in October, 2014, and she has kindly

face difficulties in the labour market because ‘their

allowed us to reproduce a version of that presentation

numbers are being dwarfed by the influx of immigrant

here. As she notes, ‘Knowledge of the natural world, of

IT professions….occurring at the same time as Australian

culture and of our own society, and an education system

public and private organisations are sending offshore

up to its task, are needed for a democratic future. The

much of their computing work’. AUR editorial board

collective labour required to support, disseminate, and

member Neil Mudford has provided two STEM-related

grow that knowledge is above all the job of university

book reviews. The first concerns a recently-published

workers. This is not a comfortable trade to be in, right

STEM-sceptical book by American Michael Teitelbaum,

now; but it is an essential one’.Too true!

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

Letter from the editor Ian R Dobson

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Finally, the last word among the papers goes to Arthur

reviewers Paul Rodan, Raj Sharma, Dennis Bryant,Thomas

O’Neill. In an opinion piece, Arthur presents a ‘fable’, a

Klikauer, Nigel Palmer and NTEU staff member Jen Kwok.

fictional account of the appointment of a vice-chancellor,

If anyone reading this would like to review books for AUR,

supported by real quotes. Perhaps he could be seen as our

please let me know!

own Aesop (definitely NOT ‘a sop’!). And he has reviewed

As well as thanking authors, blind peer reviewers

a book about how to write education research. From the

and book reviewers, let us not forget the hard working

horse’s mouth!

production team! Without them, there would be no AUR!

Book reviews are an important part of AUR; it is useful to hear what colleagues think about newly

Ian Dobson is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the

published education-related tomes. We should be

Federation University Australia, an Adjunct Professional Staff

grateful to reviewers that make the effort to write about

Member at Monash University and editor of AUR.

new research. Thanks are due to regular and new book

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Letter from the editor Ian R Dobson

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Using outperformance pay to motivate academics Insiders’ accounts of promises and problems Laurie Field & Verity Greenwood Macquarie University

Many researchers have investigated the appropriateness of pay for outperformance, (also called ‘merit-based pay’ and ‘performancebased pay’) for academics, but a review of this body of work shows that the voice of academics themselves is largely absent. This article is a contribution to addressing this gap, summarising the views of a sample of academics at one Australian university about the promises and problems of outperformance pay. The resultant close-up perspective reveals several important contrasts, most notably (a) the very different responses of business academics and academics in non-business disciplines to the concept of pay for outperformance (with business academics tending to be strongly in favour and non-business academics tending to be strongly opposed) and (b) where a pay for outperformance scheme exists, as it does in the faculty of business discussed here, the contrast between views about pay for outperformance in principle (strongly supported) and as actually implemented (widely criticised). In addition to these contrasts, the material presented raises many issues for universities considering pay for outperformance and for academics interested in the realities of such schemes, including the many (perhaps insurmountable) challenges surrounding implementation and the real possibility that, for academics achieving at or above base-level expectations, outperformance pay may actually de-motivate in the long term. Keywords: academic, remuneration, pay, merit, performance

of universities; enticing academics into annual zero-sum

Introduction

competitions for limited loadings pools; and discounting human qualities like commitment and creativity – sits

New public management (NPM) thinking, and particularly

comfortably with NPM ideology.

the obsession with surveillance and measurement aimed

But pay for outperformance is not only attractive to

at increasing employee outputs (Diefenbach, 2009),

university management because of its links with NPM;

provides the perfect context for paying academics salary

it also has innate psychological appeal. For example, it

loadings for outperformance. Each of the components of

resonates with the connection suggested by expectancy

a pay for outperformance scheme – including quantitative

theory between people’s effort and outcomes they value

representations of ‘performance’; control over how

(Van Eerde & Thierry, 1996), and with the relationship

attributes like ‘quality’ are assessed; pressure on academics

anticipated by reinforcement theory between rewards

to deliver outputs which align with the strategic priorities

and behaviour (Perry, Mesch, & Paarlberg, 2006).

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Using outperformance pay to motivate academics Laurie Field & Verity Greenwood

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This article takes a close look at the workings of

Williams, Dunnington, and Folse (2003) also examine

the pay for outperformance scheme at one Australian

the impact of performance-based loadings on the clinical

university, drawing on in-depth interviews with a range of

productivity of a group of US medical academics. While

academics, including not only participants in the scheme

productivity initially seems to have improved, there are

but also a number who did not know that the scheme

a number of grounds for caution – quality of outputs

existed. Business academics at the case study university

was not considered; staff were not interviewed; after

receive salary loadings designed to reflect the extent to

initial modest improvements, productivity then trended

which they outperform a set of base requirements. Such

downwards over several years following the introduction

arrangements are commonly referred to in the US as

of incentives; and increasing incentive levels five-fold did

‘merit-based pay’ and elsewhere as ‘performance-based

not ‘materially affect academic performance’ (p. 161),

pay’. However, the terms ‘pay for outperformance’ and

suggesting to the researchers that it was the scheme’s

‘outperformance pay’ are the main ones used in this article

systematic recognition of academic activities, rather than

because they describe more accurately the thinking

the level of monetary incentive, which motivated.

behind such schemes: it is not ‘merit’ or ‘performance’

Türk (2008) surveyed a group of Estonian academics

in absolute terms that is rewarded, but outperformance

about

relative to a set of base expectations.

outperformance scheme.Results were generally favourable

performance

appraisal

and

their

pay

for

but nevertheless fairly mixed, with follow-up interviews

The effectiveness of outperformance pay for academics

producing ‘very different and conflicting standpoints’ (p. 50). Indeed, because of the study’s limitations, the author cautions readers about his results and conclusions. Finally,

Questions about what motivates academics and about

Davidovitch, Soen, and Sinuani-Stern (2011) analysed

the effectiveness of outperformance pay have attracted

merit scores of academics relating to an outperformance

considerable scholarly attention during the last three

pay scheme at an Israeli institution with which all three

decades, but the material presented here is a response

investigators were associated. Relying only on quantitative

to one particular feature of this literature: that in

analysis of historical ratings data, the authors concluded

studies of the effectiveness of paying academics for

that theirs was a successful performance-based method of

outperformance, the voice of academics themselves is

assessment and reward.

almost entirely absent. This article helps to address this

All of these articles, and several others in a similar

gap by summarising the views of a sample of academics

vein, generally found in favour of academic pay for

at one university about the promises and problems of this

outperformance. However, in all cases, there are

approach to remuneration.

methodological grounds for caution, and none of the

Before considering academics’ views, however, it is helpful to emphasise that the motivational value of

studies reviewed that were positive about outperformance pay involved in-depth interviews with academics.

outperformance pay is far from established, with most

Outperformance pay is justified in principle but

research pointing to one of the following very different

flawed in practice. A second group of studies start with

conclusions.

the assumption that outperformance pay can or should

Outperformance pay is justified in principle and

motivate academics but then, after considering the

works in practice. A small number of studies have reported

evidence, present a series of requirements that need to

on outperformance pay schemes that are claimed to

be met for this approach to be successful. For example,

successfully motivate academic productivity.The following

after acknowledging the limitations of schemes that

examples are typical, not only in the conclusions they draw

reward academics for outperformance, Miller (1988) puts

but also in their methodological limitations.

forward suggestions for implementing a credible scheme

In a study of US medical academics,Tarquinio et al. (2003)

in the US. Grant (1998) presents a quantitative review

present data indicating that both clinical productivity

of pay for outperformance schemes in Canadian higher

and research grew as a result of implementing a pay for

education institutions, concluding that they work better

outperformance scheme. However, there are reasons for

in some settings than in others and are no panacea. Once

questioning this study’s reliability, including a research team

again, implementation suggestions are offered.

containing senior managers from the department under

Some scholars see the challenges of pay for

study, and the use of ‘satisfaction survey instruments’ (p.

outperformance in purely economic terms (e.g. Becker,

694) as the only method of determining academics’ views.

1999; Chattopadhayay & Ghosh, 2012). Thus, with no

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Using outperformance pay to motivate academics Laurie Field & Verity Greenwood

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015


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reference to actual schemes or to the academics subjected

Lacy and Sheehan (1997) underlining the importance of

to them, Becker (1999) develops a complex mathematical

university atmosphere, morale and sense of community.

formula showing how, for a given loadings pool, merit scores relate to salary raises. Other studies base their conclusions on the opinions of university managers.

The effectiveness of outperformance pay in the public sector and general workforce

For example, Taylor, Hunnicutt, and Keeffe (1991) draw on a survey of US business school deans to tabulate

The disparate conclusions summarised in the last section

views about the merits of rewarding outperformance,

mirror those found in studies of the effectiveness of

resulting in the conclusion that ‘it is questionable

outperformance pay in the general public sector. A

whether [outperformance pay] ought to be considered

considerable number of investigators have looked at

appropriate for the academic environment’ (p. 58). Only a minority of studies in this category consider academics’ views and, of these, almost all rely on multiple

choice

survey

questions. Even in the few cases

where

investigators

actually talk with academics

the effectiveness of this

Bowman (2010) reviews the history of performance pay and concludes that, even under favourable conditions, pay for outperformance ‘may not be successful because the requirements are very demanding and often impractical’... He describes the belief that outperformance pay is effective as a ‘folk myth’.

approach to remuneration as a way of motivating public servants. As with studies of outperformance pay for academics,

some

public

sector-based studies argue that, if a set of conditions is met, this approach can be effective (e.g. O’Donnell

(e.g. Bowman, 2010; Ter Bogt

and

& Scapens, 2012), very little

study of Australian public

O’Brien’s

(2000)

information is provided about what academics think of

sector schemes, which puts forward procedural ...

performance loadings.

remuneration). principle

More commonly, however, the literature surrounding

and practice. A third group of studies suggest that

rewarding public servants for outperformance suggests

outperformance pay is based on a false understanding

that these schemes do not motivate. For example,

of what motivates academics. This approach assumes

based on analysis of a variety of performance-based

that paying more results in higher outputs, just as one

pay evaluative studies, Perry, Engbers, and Jun (2009)

finds in piece-work manufacturing – exemplified by

show that such schemes often fail to achieve hoped-for

Lazear’s (2000) report of a 44 per cent increase in the

benefits. In another substantial study, Heinrich (2007)

productivity of car windscreen fitters after a pay-for-

reviewed a large US scheme intended to motivate public

outputs scheme was introduced (with half of this gain

sector employees, concluding that ‘the design and

resulting from existing workers achieving more, and

implementation of the performance bonus system is

the other half from appointment of more highly skilled

flawed’ (p. 297). Indeed, Heinrich presents evidence that

workers attracted by the new pay arrangements).

some public servants deliberately compromised their

Outperformance

pay

is

flawed

in

In contrast with the literature dealing with motivating

work in order to maximise bonuses.

factory workers, a range of studies emphasise the

Bowman (2010) reviews the history of performance

significance of intrinsic motivation for academics. For

pay in the US public sector and concludes that, even

example, Bellamy, Morley and Watty (2003) present

under favourable conditions, pay for outperformance

survey data that identify factors underpinning Australian

‘may not be successful because the requirements are very

business academics’ work satisfaction, showing that work

demanding and often impractical’ (p. 77). He describes

arrangements (most notably, flexibility and autonomy), job

the belief that outperformance pay is effective as a ‘folk

roles (teaching and research) and academics’ relationships

myth’ (p. 81), discussing at length why such an ‘execrable’

with other scholars matter far more than salary.

(p. 82) idea has persisted.

More recent studies have continued to underline

Reports of the failure of pay for outperformance to

the importance of intrinsic motivation and of work

motivate are not restricted to the public sector. To take

environment, with, for example, Wills, Ridley, and Mitev

one recent example, an extensive study of the general UK

(2013) pointing to ‘institutional characteristics’ as the

workforce (Pardey & May, 2014) concluded that financial

primary factor associated with research productivity, and

incentives for outperformance matter far less than base

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

Using outperformance pay to motivate academics Laurie Field & Verity Greenwood

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salary, job and workplace characteristics and relationships

universities (e.g. Barcan, 2013; Deem & Brehony, 2005;

with management.

Hil, 2012).

To summarise the material so far, alongside a few (perhaps

methodologically

compromised)

In terms of research process, following ethics committee

studies

approval of measures to protect confidentiality, randomly

describing outperformance pay schemes that are claimed

selected academics from across the case study university

to be successful, most research in both higher education

were approached by email and invited to participate

and elsewhere supports the conclusion that, although pay

in an interview lasting approximately one hour. Non-

for outperformance may sound like it should motivate, in

respondents were sent one reminder. In all, 40 interviews

practice the impact is, at best, mixed. Moreover, a great

were conducted, representing an equal mix of males and

many studies reach the conclusion that, for academics

females, as well as a spread of ages and levels of seniority

and those in similarly complex, knowledge-based roles,

from all faculties and a wide cross-section of university

outperformance pay does not motivate.

departments.

Research gaps relating to academic pay for outperformance

interviews, with neither undertaking interviews in their

Two academics were involved in conducting the own departments. Interviews were only structured to the extent that there was a list of topics, including The material just reviewed is representative of a

‘performance ratings and links with outperformance

large body of research relating to the merits of pay

pay’, to explore. The interviewers’ open attitude, coupled

for outperformance for academics, the public sector

with the ample time allowed, gave interviewees an

and the general workplace. With regard to research

unconstrained opportunity to reflect on the issues and

into academic pay for outperformance, even though a

share their views and associated imagery surrounding pay

wide range of methodologies has been used, including

for outperformance.

laboratory studies of motivation, cost-benefit analysis,

The author could find no examples of this approach

surveys of managers and academics using multiple-choice

– an in-depth, ‘reflective dialogue’ style of interviewing,

questions, meta-analysis, literature reviews and analysis of

with scope to probe, elaborate and clarify – being used

documents, it is noteworthy that the detailed experiences

in previous studies of academic pay for outperformance.

and perceptions of academics themselves have received

Both interviewers were long-serving academics with

little attention.

a great deal of interviewing experience and could display genuine empathy with the issues raised, thereby

Aim

encouraging honesty and elaboration.

The data reported in this article is drawn from a larger study,

offered back to interviewees to review and, if they wished,

conducted at an Australian university during 2014, which

edit. Once checked, all interview transcripts were uploaded

examined the personal costs and benefits of performance

to nVivo software (v10), which was used to search for

appraisal for academics. The topics considered included

recurring terms, to help identify key themes and to store

experiences of a pay for outperformance scheme which

notes (reflections,speculations,questions to follow up) made

applied to business academics but not to academics

as the data were analysed. A journal was also maintained

in other faculties. Data from this part of the study is

to record insights as they emerged during interviewing,

presented here, with the aim of understanding what a

reviews of university documents and associated reading in

range of academics see as the merits and, in particular, the

which the author was concurrently engaged.

Each interview was digitally recorded, transcribed and

motivational value of pay for outperformance.

With regard to the data presented in this article, the intention throughout was to understand the thinking

Methodology

of a range of academics about the motivational value of outperformance pay, without making any claims that

The analysis forming the core of this paper is based on a

the data reported is exactly representative of the views

series of interviews with academics, but also takes into

of academics in the case study university or its business

account extant theoretical considerations, most notably

faculty. In particular, interviewees self-selected, and it

theories of motivation and reward (e.g. Wills, Ridley,

is possible that those who agreed to be interviewed

& Mitev, 2013) and commentaries on the impact of

had more grievances about the university’s pay and

ideologies such as new public management on western

performance management scheme than was the norm.

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Table 1. Decision-making stages involved in determining each academic’s outperformance loading Matters that are claimed to be taken into account during this stage

Perceived transparency of this stage

Source: University and faculty documents. Wording shown is derived from source material

Source: Interviews with business academics

Appraisal process reasonably transparent, although highly dependent on relationship with supervisor

Stage 1

Appraiser meets with academic to rate annual achievements

• Academic activity gauged in terms of evidential outputs rather than claimed efforts • Specific research outputs • Teaching and community service achievements • Indicators of improvement to the level expected

Stage 2

Dean meets with heads of departments to ‘moderate’ ratings

• Attention to how high the bar is lifting with regard to Fairly opaque what is expected of business academics • Equity across disciplines • Discipline norms • The workload pattern • Academic level

Stage 3

Dean meets with finance manager to convert ratings into individual loadings, if any

• Availability of funds • The market conditions specific to each discipline • Competitor activity • University strategic priorities • Recruitment circumstances • The lumpiness of assessment metrics • Adjustments to improve fairness and consistency • A variety of [other] contextual factors

Extremely opaque

It is also important to acknowledge that academics’

no mention of the pay for outperformance scheme for

views represent only part of the total picture. Heads of

business academics. Keeping outperformance pay outside

universities, faculty managers and their HR counterparts

normal remuneration arrangements gives business faculty

who oversee the design and implement schemes like

management unfettered control of the process and results

pay for outperformance are themselves facing enormous

in most non-business academics being unaware of the

pressures from governments and the international higher

scheme’s existence.

education marketplace, pressures which, via incentives

Nevertheless, for

those

who

search, university

and other mechanisms, impact on the behaviours of

documents are available that describe the pay for

academic managers at all levels. And looming over all

outperformance scheme. For example, a ‘faculty loading

of these pressures and arrangements is the pervasive

guideline’ acknowledges the ‘fortunate position’ the

ideology of new public management and its ruthless

business faculty is in to be able to offer salary loadings,

obsession with surveillance and measurement, product

and justifies the scheme using the argument that in

and quantity.

future, ‘quality academic staff, especially in the business disciplines, will be in short supply and we have to protect

Outperformance pay at the case study university

the attractiveness of employment’. As an aside, it is relevant to point out that this ‘fortunate position’ no longer existed one year after interviews were conducted, when business

The organisation where the study was conducted is

academics were informed that they ‘must now share the

a medium-sized comprehensive ‘modern’ university,

[financial] pain’ resulting from diminishing faculty income.

contrasting with larger, longer-established ‘sandstone’

More specifically, academic staff were told that loadings

universities. At most universities in Australia, including

would be reduced and targeted much more at those with

the case study university, remuneration arrangements

high research outputs and sought-after capabilities.

are defined in an ‘academic staff enterprise agreement’

Outperformance pay is offered to all business academics

negotiated approximately every three years between

at the case study university, from the level of ‘lecturer’ up

representatives of university management and the

to ‘professor’, and is considered a key mechanism for

National Tertiary Education Union. In the agreement that

attracting, motivating and retaining academics. Decisions

applied when interviews were being conducted, there is

about the size of outperformance loadings are based on

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an assessment of ‘annual performance during the previous

suitably rewarded, and this was the case in the business

12 months’, and are paid in fortnightly instalments over

faculty.As one academic expressed it,‘This is the cash cow

the following 12 months.

faculty, and [my] department is the cash cow department

University documents referring to outperformance pay

within the faculty. If we blow a gasket, the university

emphasise the fairness of the scheme and make it sound

drops dead.’ Outperformance pay should also help to

straightforward, objective and transparent. However,

align academic interests with those of the university,

when one looks at the stages involved and listens to

again consistent with management principles taught in

business academics, the process in operation during

business courses.

2014, when interviews were conducted actually seems

Loadings increase pay to a more acceptable level.

complex, subjective and opaque (see Table 1). Perceptions

The availability of loadings for outperformance creates

of unfairness were amplified by the absence of staff

the potential for much-needed salary supplementation:

representation during the crucial Stages 2 and 3, and by the lack of any mechanism to appeal decisions.

Academics’ views about outperformance pay in principle

I think loadings are a good thing. They align the interests of the employee with the university or faculty. They incentivise you to perform – the possibility of getting a loading represents an opportunity to get some discretionary income that otherwise you are not going to have access to.

The remainder of this article considers the views of a

Comments like this resonate with the faculty’s own

sample of academics from across the university about pay

justification for rewarding outperformance: that, given

for outperformance. This section considers academics’

business professionals’ salary expectations, it was

responses to pay for outperformance in principle, and the

necessary to supplement normal academic salaries.As one

next section then looks at the approach as implemented

interviewee observed: ‘If you want to encourage people

at the case study university. Business academics tended

to take a significant drop in salary to come to academia,

to strongly support pay for outperformance in principle,

there needs to be some quid pro quo… To me, it’s purely

whereas academics from non-business disciplines tended

a supply and demand issue.’

to strongly oppose it.The arguments put forward by each group are summarised below.

Reasons that academics in business disciplines generally supported the principle of pay for outperformance

Business academics bring in more, so they should be paid more. When academics were asked how they felt about salary loadings not being available in other faculties, most were unperturbed by the discrepancy, with many comments reflecting an ‘every man for himself’ approach. It was claimed that the system at the case study university

Business academics put forward a number of arguments

was far more equitable than one finds in US universities,

in support of outperformance pay:

where each faculty ‘eats what it kills’, resulting in some

It aligns with disciplinary content. Outperformance

academics at US universities reportedly being paid far

pay is consistent with approaches to rewarding employees

more than others. Other business interviewees expressed

advocated in many courses:

similar sentiments, albeit more mildly:

We teach that incentives matter, and loadings here do create incentives, provided there is a clearly discernible link between what you’re trying to incentivise and the outcomes, and that overall, the process is transparent. This comment neatly summarises the outperformance

Segmenting [by] faculties isn’t such a bad thing where they are trying to bring people in, because that makes a difference to their faculty. So it is desirable to have… different incentive schemes... If the incentives were equalled out, and one faculty was bringing more customers, that might be a disincentive.

pay ideal that many business faculty interviewees would have felt comfortable with: a ‘transparent’ incentives

This comment is suggesting that, if faculty income from

scheme with a ‘discernible link’ between outcomes and

across the university were pooled and shared equitably

incentives.

in the form of incentives for all academics, it would

Pay for outperformance is also consistent with accepted

constitute a dis-incentive for business academics, who

principles of distribution of wealth in divisionalised

would feel that the benefits which should flow from their

companies – if one division has a superior capacity to

faculty’s large earnings were being diluted. Asked about

produce returns that consistently exceed outlays, it seems

whether it would be more appropriate for the business

unremarkable that the division’s key employees should be

faculty’s surplus funding to be shared with academics in

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other faculties, another academic laughed sardonically and responded: ‘No. If other faculties want to pay a loading, they have to earn it themselves. There is no magic money fairy for loadings.’

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I didn’t take this job for the money [laughs]. We’re already rated and ranked so often anyway: publications, so many mechanisms. If I was head of department, I would find it incredibly hard to rank colleagues (and we ARE colleagues, our head of department is not our line manager!). So ratings would be damaging to that collegiality.

Reasons that academics in non-business disciplines generally opposed the principle of pay for outperformance

demeaning. Because non-business academics were not

In marked contrast with the widespread support for

rated, the whole notion of ratings that are then translated

outperformance

business

into loadings seemed demeaning. One interviewee

academics

likened such a scheme to primary school: ‘I don’t know

interviewed were strongly opposed. When, during

about the ratings, the stars, it sounds a bit primary school.

interviews, non-business academics were asked about

“Let’s stick stickers on your page!”’. Another suggested

the business faculty’s outperformance pay scheme, they

that it was reminiscent of old-style factory work:

academics,

loadings

most

of

found

the

amongst

non-business

tended to pause, as if to digest this surprising arrangement that they had not previously encountered and then to respond very negatively. As one said, ‘ratings and loadings have never entered my realm!’ Some saw loadings tied to outperformance as a personal affront (e.g. ‘To me, it is actually insulting that something like that could happen, because [appraisal] is about us

A loadings scheme based on ratings would be

It would just be a bit like a Bundy-clock system of counting things. It would be very crude when you are trying to set any objective measure of impact, to come up with something that is a realistic reflection of [your work]. I think it would be a very rude shock to this university if every staff member itemised, ‘Bundyclock’ style or ‘lawyer’ style, everything we do for every minute of every day!

performing as academics. There should be no monetary

The comment neatly reframes the situation, suggesting

attachment to it whatsoever.’) The vast majority opposed

that in place of salary systems that try to get people to put in

outperformance pay in principle, with their main reasons

extra time and effort, academics are already putting in extra

summarised below.

(unpaid) time and effort, and the university would be ‘rudely

Ratings used to determine financial loadings would undermine collegiality. Many interviewees understood that loadings would make academic work a zero-sum game. Given the very limited loadings pool that would be available, there could be few winners, with everyone else missing out: I guess there’s one bucket that they have to divvy up. So if everybody got [very high ratings, management] couldn’t give everybody a 50 per cent loading, so that’s awful. And, you know, I think part of working in this environment has been a really good sense of collegiality.

shocked’ if they had to pay for it all.Yet another interviewee, when asked about outperformance pay, responded: That would just destroy me and I would walk out of here in an instant if that’s the attitude of the university to its academic staff. I would be horrified and I would not put up with that crap… I mean, it’s bad enough as it is! The workloads are increasing, let alone tying our performance to it, then giving us a score. We are a bit beyond that, aren’t we? Payment for outputs fundamentally misrepresents academic motivation. A number of interviewees rejected outperformance pay on grounds that could be

Responses like this highlight that many non-business

summarised as ‘we’re not in it for the money!’ For example:

academics place a lot of emphasis on ‘healthy relations

I just think that ratings, loadings, even payment for papers are all disgusting, and I really hope we don’t ever have it. I would hate to work in a place where they have that. Academics rarely get into it for the money…I don’t have alternative cash-rich jobs. Payment for papers wouldn’t motivate me in the slightest, nor most of my colleagues.

within the department’, and feel that competition for loadings would undermine that. For some academic activities – for example, editing a journal, which involves reliance on the goodwill of colleagues for articles, and help with editing – collegiality is essential. In some non-business departments, the person responsible for conducting appraisals was thought of as a

Other interviewees elaborated on the intrinsic factors

senior colleague rather than ‘my manager’, which made it

which DID motivate them. According to one: ‘We’re all

seem particularly inappropriate that this person would be

self-motivated people, we’ve got into the job because

the one determining colleagues’ loadings:

we love it, [because] we are interested in it.’ Another commented:

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For me, [performance] loadings would not be motivating. I am motivated by trying to do a good job for other reasons – colleague esteem, student positive feedback. Honestly, if you are motivated by loadings, you tend to move into the corporate sector... I have had some experience of bonuses [in previous work in another sector], but the costs of administration were huge, and inequities snuck in that bred resentment. Also, people’s different circumstances are differently enabling, so I don’t think it could work equitably.

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Interviewees questioned the ability of approaches like pay for outperformance to take account of the variety of workplace constraints and enablers that impacted on different academics. Echoing Heinrich’s (2007) findings mentioned earlier, several interviewees raised questions about whether individuals would be tempted to behave unethically to maximise their ratings, for example noting that ‘professors know how to manipulate schemes very well and…[could say] “Alright, there’s an outcome, I will

This comment is interesting in that it not only critically

claim that!” It would be very wrong!’

questions the validity of performance loadings but also,

There are already enough mechanisms for

from an organisational point of view, questions the

recognising and rewarding academics, without

likelihood that the benefits would outweigh the costs.

adding pay for outperformance. Some interviewees

The ratings used to decide loadings are likely to

questioned introducing loadings on the grounds that there

be invalid. A number of academics from non-business

were already ample opportunities for extra remuneration

disciplines were dissatisfied with the way they had been

through promotion or via competitive research grants and

assessed during appraisal, so the addition of a formal

prizes.

system of ratings which then determined loadings seemed risky indeed:

A pay for outperformance scheme would be just one more manifestation of new public management.

There’s always the potential [for] petty bias to affect [managers’] judgements. Many of these biases and attitudes are automated cognitive processes…based on inherent and long-held prejudices and schemas in our mind that we’re not aware of. That includes things like ageism and sexism and …preferences for people… We also know that those schemas and prejudices are extremely hard to modify... [So] I would be very concerned that there would be subjectivity and bias in the process.

The

academics

interviewed

were

regularly

being

Speculation about bias was not only hypothetical

issues to costs and benefits. Even the imposition of

but, in some cases, related to previous unsatisfactory

appraisal itself felt like just one more ‘distraction, having

appraisals, making the prospect of linking this kind of

to do this [dancing] pony nonsense, unconnected with

questionable data with remuneration repugnant – e.g.

the real university’.

confronted by what some experienced as the harshness of new public management and related ideologies and pressures – including, for example, students being seen, and seeing themselves, as ‘customers’; learning treated as a ‘product’; the emphasis on audit and surveillance; the aggressive push to improve discipline ratings associated with each faculty; and the repeated reduction of complex

‘I feel quite uncomfortable, because the [performance

Partly as a result, the prospect of rating academics and

review system and associated software] is so clunky, it’s

then using these ratings to decide on salary loadings felt

quantitative, [it makes] you think there might be lots of

like just one more undesirable manifestation of the new

things that might not be recognised in there’. Another

mindset. As one interviewee commented:

interviewee, trying to visualise how management might assess outperformance, observed: There’s a lot of heart and soul that goes into your job… I don’t see that being discussed around a big table, and that’s what would worry me. [And the reward system applying to business academics] feels quite individualised – they have individualised you in your sealed envelope. So it becomes you trying to do your best to get your reward, and that takes away any sense of a collegial, collaborative environment.

I have an ethical problem with [performance loadings]! I see myself as a teacher and I’m passionate about educating people, so I have a real problem with the way teaching has been linked to money…I prefer to see what I do as ‘production of knowledge’. In non-business faculties, there are no funds to pay for loadings. Several interviewees pointed out that there were no surplus funds in their faculties and that, in some cases, there were groups of recent PhDs who

This comment touches on two key aspects of work that

were eagerly awaiting job openings if any extra money

non-business academics felt would be under-recognised

did become available. Given factors like these, even if

in a pay for outperformance scheme: first, the heart and

outperformance pay was introduced, the size of loadings

soul that many academics put into their work; and second,

would be very limited, and competition for these tiny

the sense of collegiality and collaboration that underpins

amounts ‘could get quite ugly’ and ‘set people against

much of what academics do.

each other’.

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You can only squeeze so much juice out of a lemon. The non-business academics had repeatedly been called upon to extend their roles (e.g. taking on work previously done by general staff and responding to ever-increasing compliance

pressures), leaving

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[or because of] perceived fluctuations in the market value of my discipline. The system doesn’t convey that directly! Other conceptual foundations of business studies –

interviewees

for example, in people management, the notion that

feeling extremely stretched. Even if worthwhile loadings

procedural fairness enhances commitment – added to

were offered, it was difficult to visualise what more the

this sense that, as implemented, the outperformance pay

individual could do to match the case study university’s

scheme was a long way from best business practice.

lofty goals, including delivery [sic] of ‘world-leading

Outcomes

rely

on

departmental

heads’

research performance’ with ‘world-changing impact’ on

influencing skills. Another source of dissatisfaction was

‘global challenges of significance’, that would presumably

that some departmental heads seemed better than others

underpin outperformance measures.

at embellishing claims on behalf of their staff during Stage 2 (see Table 1).The result, according to some interviewees,

Academics’ views about outperformance pay as implemented

was that staff in some departments consistently got higher

In marked contrast with their in-principle support for

The process of converting ratings into loadings, as

outperformance pay, discussed in the last section, many

well as the distribution of loadings across the faculty,

loadings than those in other departments. Allocation of loadings is shrouded in secrecy.

of

these

same

academics

business

were

highly

critical of how the scheme had been implemented at the case study university. Their main criticisms of the scheme’s

implementation

were: It

does

not

meaningful Perhaps

provide

was shrouded in secrecy.

The process of converting ratings into loadings, as well as the distribution of loadings across the faculty, was shrouded in secrecy. One interviewee quipped that decision-making in Stages 2 and 3 involved (metaphorically speaking) ‘chicken entrails, goats to sacrifice’.

feedback.

because

of

One interviewee quipped that

decision-making

in

Stages 2 and 3 involved (metaphorically

speaking)

‘chicken entrails, goats to sacrifice’. Others were less cutting but equally blunt, describing the translation of ratings into loadings as a

the

highly subjective ‘black box’

complex array of variables that the scheme attempts to

process that was ‘cloaked in secrecy’.

take into account (see Table 1), many found it difficult to

In some cases, academics with substantial achievements

understand the relationship between their work during

only received very small loadings. When that happened,

the previous year and the loading they ultimately received.

negative responses seemed to go two ways – both

Asked how effective a loading was as a way of providing

towards the system, for example denouncing the scheme

feedback, one interviewee replied:

as ‘farcical’, or writing to the dean with mocking thanks

It’s not effective! There are too many unknowns in the one equation: your performance, market performance, university budget constraints, student enrolments... We’re never given numbers, but every year you’re told that the budget is tighter, and every year your classes are bigger.

for the tiny loading awarded; and towards oneself, with some interviewees talking about feeling ‘demeaned’, crestfallen’, ‘in despair’, ‘disregarded’, ‘demoralised’ and ‘depressed’ by the whole process. The business faculty does not release details of how loadings are distributed, on the grounds that this

In considering these and other expressions of

information is part of their competitive advantage.

frustration, it is relevant to point out the importance

Interviewees

of feedback in the commercial sector, and it seemed

provided each year was a general document saying

particularly unpalatable that in business academics’ own

that, as paraphrased by one interviewee: ‘”This year,

workplace, the quality of feedback and its translation into

some people’s loadings went up, some stayed the same,

loadings was so poor:

some went down. And budgets are tighter.”’ The lack of

I asked my supervisor whether my loading [had gone] down because we’re all going down, or is it because I’ve done worse than I was expected to do… vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

indicated

that

the

only

information

information surrounding the distribution of loadings was a source of considerable frustration – for example: ‘We can’t get any distribution of loadings. I gave up asking

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years ago. They tell us all sorts of things about [faculties

after year, for salary supplementation. Reflecting on the

elsewhere that we’re competing with] to justify why they

reference to ‘gnawing’ in the following comments, it is

can’t disclose that sort of information.’

not hard to imagine a rat on a treadmill, endlessly striving

The criteria used to determine loadings change periodically. Consistent with its emphasis on clear strategy and process, each year the business faculty outlined in detail how performance would be assessed but, at times, the assessment process or criteria changed part-way through the year, leaving some academics furious about having to refocus their work and the information recorded to meet the new requirements. A year after interviews were conducted, the assessment process and criteria were again changed substantially, with new emphasis on a CV-style document encompassing ‘new

but also anxious about how to overcome impediments to reaching a reward: This year, I’m anxious because I’ve had journal articles come back, they haven’t been accepted. I’ve only got six months to do the revisions…There is a big lag in terms of how long it takes for publications to come out. [So] there are disadvantages to loadings. It would be lovely to be on a higher rate of pay without gnawing about what I have to do and how I’m going to do it. I really want to hit home that there is an increased level of anxiety. I find myself waking up in the morning, thinking about work, and thinking: ‘How am I going to get that done?’

[output] expectations’. The scheme incentivises academics to work in

An important contributor to this kind of anxiety may

particular areas prescribed by management. One

be that academics have limited control over the outputs

of the procedural changes that occurred in the lead-up

rewarded by performance pay. One may ‘perform’ by

to interviews was that ratings criteria were modified

submitting a research grant application or writing a

to encourage publication in journals associated with

journal article but then face lengthy delays followed

particular research areas. Previously, a lot of emphasis

by rejection. In that sense, ‘pay for outperformance’ is a

had been placed on ‘cross-disciplinary, collaborative

misnomer – a more accurate descriptor would be ‘pay for

endeavours’, whereas

performance which happens to result in outcomes valued

this

change

suggested

that

‘collaboration’ had been reconstituted as ‘collaboration in single prescribed research areas’, and ‘cross-disciplinary’

by universities’. Outperformance pay privileges quantity over quality. Several business academics spoke of the

had been pushed to the background. To some, the best strategy appeared to be production

compromises that performance loadings imposed on

of ‘the smallest possible journal articles you can get away

them, compromises that meant their own wishes to

with in the highest-ranking journals possible’:

explore an area deeply – perhaps to write a book or to

Systems [like performance rating and pay for outperformance] discourage writing true academic pieces like books – I don’t even have writing a book on my radar, it’s always about how to get the next paper published…Sometimes I find myself getting really blinkered, thinking: ‘I want to target only these [A-ranked] journals’ and discount other ones, so I meet the faculty measure, so I keep getting the money I’m used to. Books and long-term projects are out! Certainly, the outperformance pay scheme at the case study university seemed designed to, as one interviewee

undertake a research project with no publications for several years – tended to be replaced by a battery hen view of academic work which emphasised quantity rather than quality: To meet these pressures, what I’m trying to do is establish template models of writing an article – I go: ‘what are the good points’, ‘what’s a bit of theory I can put in (doesn’t matter what it is), how can I do that with some surveys, da, da, da [clicks fingers], whip it off!!’ It can work for a while, but I don’t know if it will be satisfying.

expressed it,‘reward those who do whatever managers tell them to do, regardless of whether that’s consistent with

Discussion

the long-term health of the institution’. It also reinforced the general message that research mattered much more

Previous studies of the merits of paying academics for

than teaching, a dampener on those passionate about

outperformance have revealed mixed results or outright

quality teaching and learning, a theme elaborated on

failure, a poor justification for such a widely used

elsewhere (Field (2015)).

approach. When one tries to understand the reasons

Outperformance

endless

for outperformance pay’s poor implementation record,

striving. Several interviewees referred to the fact that

it is noteworthy that the detailed voices of academics

promotion locks in higher remuneration, whereas pay

themselves are largely absent from research into this

for outperformance involves continuous effort, year

area. This article is a step towards addressing this gap by

14

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demands

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presenting the views of a sample of academics at one

and doing less. And for individuals who consistently

Australian university about the promises and problems of

underperform, loadings are likely to be irrelevant. Indeed,

pay for outperformance.

this last group may be the only ones not demotivated by

These insiders’ accounts reveal some striking contrasts. First, while

the

business

academics

pay for outperformance in the long term.

interviewed

These speculations are consistent with the data

tended to enthusiastically support the principle of pay

reported here and with questions raised in studies

for outperformance, most interviewees from other

of performance rewards for school teachers (e.g.

disciplines strongly opposed it. Second, in contrast with

Chamberlin, Wragg, Haynes, & Wragg, 2002) and the

their in-principle support, most of the business academics

public sector (e.g. Marsden, 2010). The possibility

interviewed were highly critical of the way the scheme

that pay for outperformance may demotivate most

was actually implemented, with many questioning the

academics over time is also consistent with the findings

relationship between actual work quality, their ratings and

of Williams, Dunnington, and Folse (2003) with US

their salary loadings, a relationship which lies at the heart

medical academics, referred to earlier, that after an initial

of such schemes.

increase, productivity trended downwards following the

Paying for outperformance sounds like it should be

introduction of outperformance pay. Certainly, the extent

an effective way of motivating academics, but the data

to which, over a period of time, pay for outperformance

presented here adds to the large body of scholarship

de-motivates academics at different performance levels

challenging whether it is possible to implement a pay for

deserves further research attention.

outperformance scheme which (a) is viewed positively by

More generally, given the doubtful motivational value

academics, (b) motivates individuals to put in and sustain

of pay for outperformance and the possibility that it

more effort than they otherwise would, and (c) does not

ultimately demotivates, if faculties have surplus funds

compromise principles which many academics hold dear,

that are currently channelled into rewarding academics

including collegiality, equity and work quality.

through outperformance loadings, there is considerable that

scope to address broader questions about remuneration

future research into the merits of academic pay for

The

contrasts

referred

to

above

suggest

equity. For example, future research might look at when

outperformance would benefit from distinguishing

and how excess income generated by particular faculties

between in-principle support and support for schemes as

could and should be distributed more widely amongst

actually implemented; and between the motivational value

all academics or all university staff. And, perhaps most

of outperformance pay in different faculties, disciplines

fundamental of all, future researchers might explore

and, by implication, national and cultural contexts.

whether (and under what circumstances) the pools of

An additional issue raised by this study that warrants

money currently allocated to performance loadings in

further consideration is whether outperformance pay

many universities would be better spent simply raising

actually de-motivates in the long term. Most previous

the base salaries of everyone.

studies of outperformance pay consider outcomes ranging from ‘positively motivating’ to ‘un-motivating’, but

Acknowledgements

some of the responses reported in this paper suggest that the nett result of outperformance pay over a period of

We would like to acknowledge the contribution of

time may be to reduce motivation.

our friend and colleague Cathy Rytmeister (not an

Consider a group of academics performing at different

interviewee) for sharing her insights into the themes of

levels. For those who repeatedly outperform, recurring

this paper, and of several interviewees at the case study

high annual loadings over several years may start to

university for providing helpful feedback on an earlier

feel like an integral part of base salary. For academics in

draft.

that situation, outperformance pay may have little if any motivational value. However, any reduction may result

Laurie Field is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Human

in feelings like those referred to earlier – e.g. feeling

Sciences at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

‘crestfallen’ and ‘demoralised’ – which may well be Verity Greenwood is lecturer in the Faculty of Business and

associated with de-motivation. For academics doing their job fully but without being

Economics at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

categorised as outperformers, the repeated failure to attract a loading may result in their thinking ‘why bother?’ vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

Using outperformance pay to motivate academics Laurie Field & Verity Greenwood

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A profile of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education student population Judith Wilks & Katie Wilson Southern Cross University

This paper brings together recent statistics relating to the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in higher education. A number of key statistical realities relating to their enrolment into, retention during, and completion of, their university courses are depicted. Foremost among these realities is that despite initiatives over recent years to redress their under-representation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students’ participation in higher education remains significantly below the population parity rate. This paper also warns about the need to exercise care about definitions, sources, measurement, collection, interpretation and analysis of data in the higher education field relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It concludes that successful transitions to university involve not just success in enrolling more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, but in improving their retention and completion rates, and moreover, the qualities of their engagements and experiences in university life during their journey through higher education. Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Indigenous, higher education, statistics, university, vocational and educational training

students into higher education. It concluded that there

Introduction

has been a steady increase in Indigenous student numbers since the first Aboriginal person graduated from university

This paper provides an overview of statistics relating to the

in 1966. However, as the statistics put forward in this paper

current and recent experiences of Aboriginal and Torres

demonstrate, Indigenous participation in higher education

Strait Islander students in higher education. It draws from

remains significantly below the population parity rate,

an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) funded project

despite initiatives over recent years to redress this.

conducted during 2011-2013, entitled Can’t be what you

Note: The terms ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’

can’t see: The transition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait

and ‘Indigenous’ are used interchangeably in this article.

Islander students into higher education (see Kinnane, Wilks, Wilson, Hughes & Thomas, 2014). This project

Background

documented the processes, the data, the pathways, the enablers, the constraints, and the opportunities associated

Enhancing transitions for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait

with the transition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Islander students, and for other under-represented groups,

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

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requires a greater focus on targets for increasing student

annual Indigenous Education Statements (IES); and state

higher education completions. It also requires appropriate

VET providers.

resources and governance to work with community-based

This confusion was compounded in 2012 when

and Indigenous Education Unit based assets that are already

responsibility for higher education was moved from

in place. Kinnane et al. (2014) found that there is significant

DEEWR to DIICCSRTE.This move resulted in some loss in

scope for increasing and strengthening Aboriginal and

equivalency of relevant statistics in the area of Aboriginal

Torres Strait Islander students’ transitions into higher

and Torres Strait Islander higher education participation.

education by building on the assets already in place,

Not long after, in September 2013, DIICCSRTE became the

including supporting university Indigenous Education

Department of Industry and higher education functions

Units to engage in leading practice toward this end.

were transferred to the Department of Education.

The enrolment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Thus it is difficult to track through data amongst

students in Vocational Education and Training (VET) is

the shifting sands of departmental responsibilities

higher than in university, although there are variations in

and re-structuring and there is a need to exercise care

this pattern in the states and territories, especially those

about definitions, sources, measurement, collection,

with a dominant mining sector. VET to university is not

interpretation and analysis. Drawing from the findings of

a strong pathway for students into higher education,

the aforementioned project (Kinnane et al., 2014), this

with 4.9 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

paper aims to chart a course through these difficulties

students making the transition in 2012, compared to 7.9

to present a picture of some salient statistical trends

per cent for non-Indigenous students.

associated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

This paper highlights some of the variations in data

participation in higher education.

sources and reporting practices, for example population categorisation, data gathering and representations, that render difficult the portrayal of an accurate statistical

Findings

reality of the higher education experiences of Aboriginal

(1) The complexity

and Torres Strait Islander students. Underlying many

As previously identified, the collection and storage of

statistics relating to Indigenous peoples’ engagement

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education

in higher education are concerns about the continued

data is subject to variations in policy, resourcing,

variations in data collection and measurement. The

political philosophies and the constant administrative

measurement of statistics from different baselines

reconfigurations of Australian government departments.

renders

difficult.

This has led to inconsistencies in some of the major

Additionally, flux, change, and ideological motivations

sources of Indigenous higher education data. Examples

in methods of measurement and reporting are noted

include: missing, limited or unavailable data for some

by several authors (for example, Prout, 2010; Rowse,

target groups, for example Indigenous students with

2009; Walter, 2010). Further, there is uncertainty about

a disability (COAG Reform Council, 2013; Miller,

levels of self-identification by Aboriginal and Torres

2007; O’Neill, Kirov, & Thomson, 2004; Productivity

Strait Islander peoples in higher education enrolment

Commission, 2011; Tiplady & Barclay, 2007); incomplete

practices (Kinnane et al., 2014).

or inconsistent data (Pechenkina & Anderson, 2011); and

analyses

and

trend

predictions

Even at the most fundamental of data collection levels, for example the actual number of Aboriginal and Torres

lack of standardisations in reporting and data collection across higher education institutions (Pakeha, 2011).

Strait Islander students participating in higher education,

Data and statistics relating to Aboriginal and Torres

there is no agreement among the responsible data

Strait Islander peoples present unique challenges.

gathering agencies. Current data sources include, but are

There is a significant lack of essential longitudinal and

not limited to: the Department of Education (previously

cross-sectional data required to properly research and

the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace

understand the factors influencing and encouraging

Relations

Industry

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in

(previously the Department of Industry, Innovation,

transitioning from school to higher education (Biddle

Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

& Cameron, 2012; Wijesekere, 2008; Wilson & Barnes,

(DIICCSRTE)); the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS);

2007). There are frequently problems arising from data

individual universities through data collection methods

aggregation because of small samples, and with small

in response to and contributing to reports such as the

numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

18

(DEEWR)); the

Department

of

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living in scattered, remote locations, rendering analyses

from 2012, the figure is significantly below the population

‘unreliable and not generalisable’ (Walter, 2010, p. 46). Yet

parity rate.

while much has been done in recent years to improve the

A Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for

quality of and access to this data (Allbon & Trewin, 2006;

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Behrendt,

Gilbert, 2010;Trewin, 2002) much remains to be done.

Larkin, Griew, & Kelly, 2012) was commissioned by the

Statistics regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Australian Government following a recommendation by

peoples in Australia are largely collected within non-

the Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education

Indigenous frameworks. These frameworks have aligned

(Bradley et al., 2008).The Behrendt Review, as it has come

with the ideological motivations, social interests and

to be known, was the first review to address the full scope

practices of the individuals and institutions involved.Walter

of the provision of Indigenous higher education across

(2010) referred to the lack of impartiality of Indigenous

Australia. It examined ‘how improving higher education

statistical data collection in Australia, a practice that she

outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

argues is in reality complicated by the political and racial

people will contribute to nation building and reduce

values of statistical gatherers and framers of questions.

Indigenous disadvantage’ (p. ix). Both the Behrendt

Walter cited the Closing the Gap reports which, she

Review and the Bradley Review suggested a population

argued, employ statistics for the purposes of ‘fixing’ the

parity rate of 2.2 per cent as the aspiration, reflecting the

Indigenous problem (p. 50). Caution is required around the data, and these issues run deep in the Indigenous data collection field (Prout, 2010). Other issues that may affect the integrity of data relating to Aboriginal

and Torres

Strait Islander educational participation

proportion of the population

Statistics regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia are largely collected within non-Indigenous frameworks. These frameworks have aligned with the ideological motivations, social interests and practices of the individuals and institutions involved.

include

aged between 15-64 years of age that is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (based on 2006 ABS population statistics). The

Department

of

Education, on the other hand, argued for a parity rate of 3.1 per cent as an estimate of

variations over time in the

the proportion of Australian

rates of self-identification of Aboriginal or Torres Strait

students we could expect to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait

Islander students (COAG Reform Council, 2013;Wijesekere,

Islander, ‘if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

2008), for example, the fluctuations in self-identification

were represented according to their proportion of the

across Years 7 to 12. Attendance and enrolment data from

higher education aged population’ (Panel for the Review

government, Catholic and independent schools cannot

of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal

be aggregated (Steering Committee for the Review of

and Torres Strait Islander people, 2011, p. 14). In particular,

Government Service Provision, 2011) and this leads to

specific groups of the Indigenous populations that are

inconsistencies in ‘apparent’ retention rates and transition

under-represented in relation to higher education include:

higher education data.

women as primary carers, students living in remote locations, young men, people in the prison system and

(2) The reality

people with disabilities.

We propose that not even all of these confusions,

Participation statistics depend on self-identification

problems and challenges surrounding the collection of

at enrolment as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and

data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students’

therefore are almost certainly an underestimate given

participation in higher education can detract from

that some students choose not to identify for a range of

the stark reality that their enrolment, retention, and

reasons, and universities apply a variety of ways – from

completion rates are significantly lower than those of

nothing at all, to pro-active confirmation – that the

non-Indigenous students (Andersen, Bunda, & Walter,

students who ‘tick the box’ are Indigenous (Kinnane

2008; Bradley, Noonan, Nugent & Scales, 2008; Devlin,

et al., 2014). Further, the two lead agencies for higher

2009). Students who self-identified as Aboriginal or Torres

education data collection, collation and analysis differ on

Strait Islander made up 1.0 per cent of all university

this matter. Department of Education statistics depend

enrolments (13,781) in 2013 (Department of Education,

on the internal reporting processes of universities which

2014a). Although there was an increase of 9.1 per cent

vary by institution. Bradley et al. (2008) and Behrendt et

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al. (2012) utilised ABS data from the 2006 census, now nine years old.

Higher education participation statistics

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Table 1: Indigenous higher education enrolments by state/territory, 2013 State/territory

No. of Indigenous enrolments

Australian Capital Territory The following sets out the available statistics in relation to the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in university and VET. VET is included here for

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New South Wales

363 4,898

Northern Territory

709

the purposes of demonstrating the interrelationships

Queensland

between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation

South Australia

866

in university and their participation in VET.

Tasmania

379

(1) University The

thirty-eight

established

Table

A

universities

(government funded) are eligible for all funding programs defined in the Higher Education and Support Act (HESA)

3,159

Victoria

1,622

Western Australia

1,184

Multistate (Australian Catholic University)

396

Department of Education, 2014a

2003.Three recently established smaller, privately funded Table B universities have limited access to Australian

level C universities and non-university higher education

government funded student places, and are not eligible

institutions for the first time will have impacted the figures.

for Indigenous Support Program funding.

The number of Indigenous students completing

The most recent full year of statistics for Indigenous

university courses in 2013 was 1,859, comprising 1,257

students available from the Department of Education at

female students and 602 male students. This represents

the time of writing is for 2013, and as has been noted,

0.5 per cent of the 311,597 total award completions for all

these statistics depend on two factors: internal reporting

students.The highest completion numbers for Indigenous

of universities which varies by institution; and Indigenous

students were in Society and Culture (556), Health (427),

student self-identification. Reporting methods have

and Education (354) (Department of Education, 2104b).

changed from area of study or discipline in the 1990s to

In relation to the dynamics between commencements

provider in the 2000s, making long term comparisons

and completions Pechenkina, Kowal & Paradies (2011)

difficult. Limited data is available online pre-2004, and

observed that Indigenous university commencing numbers

many are inconsistent and lack Aboriginal and Torres

have increased slowly since 2005, but ‘completions

Strait Islander student characteristics and socioeconomic

have fluctuated’ (p. 59). Their analysis of DEEWR higher

status data (Pechenkina & Anderson, 2011).

education statistics from 2004-2008 found ‘no correlation

In 2013, students who self-identified as Indigenous

between Indigenous student commencement numbers

(Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander) on enrolment made

and Indigenous student completion rates’ (p. 64), and a

up 1.0 per cent (13,781) of all university enrolments

dual system within Australian universities:‘those that have

(1,313,776), a 9.1 per cent increase from 12,632 in

high commencement numbers and a high proportion of

2012; and 1.2 per cent of all commencements (537,886)

Indigenous staff, and those that have high completion rates

an increase of 7.7 per cent from 2012 (5,824 to 6,275).

with the Go8 dominating the second group’ (p. 64). The

Female Indigenous students commencing university

Behrendt Review noted that Aboriginal and Torres Strait

studies numbered 4,141, an increase of 8.3 per cent, with

Islander students experience a one-in-three dropout rate

2,134 male students, representing a 6.7 per cent increase

from university compared to one-in-five for all domestic

from 2012. The total number of female Indigenous

students, and that overall completion rates were 22 per

students in 2013 was 9,148, and the total number of male

cent less than for non-Indigenous (Behrendt et al., 2012).

Indigenous students was 4,633, both an increase of 9.1 per cent from 2012. The differences with gender repeat

(2) Vocational education and training (VET)

a pattern established in recent years (Department of

The VET statistics relating to enrolments and qualifications

Education, 2014a).

(Ainley, Buckley, Beavis, Rothman & Tovey, 2011) during

State and Territory figures for all Indigenous university

the period 1996-2008 revealed a far higher rate of increase

students in 2013 are shown in Table 1. Numbers have

for Indigenous compared to non-Indigenous persons (700

increased from 2012, although the addition of private

per cent compared with 227 per cent).The data also show

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Table 2: VET enrolments by state/territory, 2012 State/territory

Number of Indigenous students

Percentage of population

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Qualifications

Numbers

Diploma or higher

1,228

New South Wales

32,695

5.5%

Certificate IV

2,733

Northern Territory

10,120

41.7%

Certificate III

5,865

Queensland

17,268

5.9%

Certificate II

6,155

Certificate I

2,963

6,392

4.5%

Tasmania

2,010

4.7%

Victoria Western Australia

7,728

1.2%

12,814

7.7%

National Centre for Vocational Education Research, 2013

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Completed by Indigenous students

2.8%

South Australia

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Table 3: Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) qualifications completed by Indigenous students, 2011

851

Australian Capital Territory

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Total

18,944

20.9% 79.1%

100%

National Centre for Vocational Education Research, 2013

Table 3 shows a breakdown of VET qualifications completed by Indigenous students in 2011. Certificate IV

that Indigenous young people aged between 15 and 19

can be a pathway into university, but in 2011, 79 per cent

years are more likely to be enrolled at Certificate II level

of Indigenous VET completions were for Certificate I – III.

than in higher qualifications Certificate III and IV). This

Reasons given by Indigenous graduate students for

high enrolment in Certificate II courses ‘helps to reduce

undertaking VET training in 2011 were: ‘employment

the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous young

related outcomes’ (81.1 per cent);‘further study outcome’

people in the attainment of Year 12 and Certificate II,

(4.4 per cent); and ‘personal development outcome’ (14.5

although the difference does not fully compensate for

per cent). Significantly, it appears that VET to higher

lower retention rates and consequent attainment of Year

education is not a strong pathway for most students.

12 experience by Indigenous school students’ (Ainley et

Only a small percentage of Indigenous students make the

al., 2011, p. 42).

transition from VET studies to university study. In 2012,

Behrendt et al. (2012, p. 40) noted that unlike the university sector, the VET sector provides:

2.3 per cent of Indigenous students who had completed VET training were studying at university, compared with

... a proven record of enrolling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in VET courses in numbers that reflect population parity. This can be both a benefit and a drawback... a benefit when higher-level VET courses are used as a launching pad into university for students without the existing academic preparedness for direct entry, and a drawback when VET acts as a diversion from higher education.

4.9 per cent of non-Indigenous students (National Centre

In 2010, eight times more Indigenous students

(Bandias, Fuller, & Pfitzner, 2011; Behrendt et al., 2012).

enrolled in VET than in university, compared with twice

Dual sector universities (VET and university) show some

as many non-Indigenous students enrolling in VET than

success in ‘mapping’ VET goals onto university degree

in university (Taylor, Gray, Hunter,Yap, & Lahn, 2011). In

programs and in transitioning Aboriginal and Torres

2012, Indigenous VET students numbered 89,878 or 4.6

Strait Islander students to university (Behrendt et al.,

per cent of the total national VET student population

2012). For example, in 2010 dual-sector institutions RMIT

(1,943,195) and 15.3 per cent of the total Indigenous

and Swinburne University had the highest transition of

population, a gradual but steady increase since 2002

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from VET

(4.1 per cent). However, the Indigenous status for

(Behrendt et al. 2012), indicating a stronger pathway in

a large number of students (98,402) was declared

such configurations.

unknown in 2012.

for Vocational Education Research, 2013). Moreover, the

number

of

Indigenous

students

continuing on to higher education through the VET system has declined since 2006.The pathway from VET to universities is complex, with many barriers, for students as well as for education providers, and is not well-researched

VET enrolments more accurately reflect Aboriginal

A breakdown of 2012 figures by state and territory

and Torres Strait Islander population parity. Behrendt et

(Table 2) indicates that the Northern Territory has the

al., (2012) suggests reasons for the higher levels of VET

largest percentage of Indigenous population undertaking

study include ‘method of study, its curricular content,

VET studies (41.7 per cent), while New South Wales has

or the career options’, and the need to earn money (p.

the largest number overall.

40). Geographical location is given as another potential

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reason for higher numbers enrolling in VET, with only 44

likelihood of Indigenous students to identify as such, or

per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

the improvement in Indigenous status data collection’

currently living within one of the 49 cities or towns with

(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011). Students may

a university campus.

identify or be identified as Indigenous in later years but may not have identified in Year 7, potentially contributing

Other entry pathways to university School to university transitions

to an apparent growth in the retention rate (Long, 2009, cited in Ainley et al., 2011, p. 4). In 2012, the apparent retention rate from Year 7/8 to Year 12 was 52.9 per cent

Available data reveal that retention rates of Indigenous

for female students and 49.2 per cent for male students

students through high school to Year 12 are improving, and

(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013b).

a small but increasing percentage of students complete

This rate of change, despite being very positive

Year 12, and are applying for and qualifying for university

‘is insufficient if the COAG [Council of Australian

by way of an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR),

Governments] targets for 2020 are to be reached’ (Ainley

the entry rank for secondary school to gain admission

et al., 2011, pp. 41-42). However, Biddle & Cameron

to universities. However, these rates are still well below

(2012) point out that ‘statistical significance shouldn’t be

those for non-Indigenous students. In 2008, ten per cent

confused with determinism’ (p. 32). Three quarters (74.1

of Year 12 Indigenous students were eligible for university

per cent) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

through an entrance score (the ATAR) compared to 46

aged 15 expected to complete Year 12, with 47.1 per cent

per cent of non-Indigenous Year 12 students (DEEWR,

expecting to move to post-school study. Multiple influences

2008, cited in Behrendt et al., 2012, p. 6). It is noted that

on the transition of Indigenous students to post-study and

university eligibility data ceased to be tracked nationally

employment, such as school support, peer association,

in 2008 (The Aurora Project, 2011a).

discrimination, and causal effects of pre-school education

In 2013, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Year 12 full-time students enrolled in government, Catholic and

are not factored into statistical analyses, and more nuanced data is needed (Biddle & Cameron, 2012).

independent schools across all states and territories in

Outreach to students by universities is a key means

Australia numbered 6,934. The reported Indigenous Year

of encouraging and assisting transition. In a study

7/8 to Year 12 ‘apparent’ retention rate has increased from

commissioned by DEEWR, Gale et al. (2010) examined

36 per cent in 2000 to 40.1 per cent in 2006, and 55.1

university early intervention (pre-Year 11) or outreach

per cent in 2013 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013a).

programs

Apparent retention rate is an ‘indicative measure of the

Indigenous students, and those from rural and remote

number of school students who have stayed in school…

areas. Twenty-six universities responded to a survey

expressed as a percentage of the respective cohort

and the research team selected seven case studies to

group against the cohort that those students would be

examine in detail. From this analysis the team developed

expected to have come from, assuming an expected rate

a ‘Design and Evaluation Matrix for Outreach (DEMO)’

of progression of one grade a year’ (Australian Bureau

(p. 12, Synopsis) for evaluating and designing outreach

of Statistics, 2013b. p. 47). However, there are large

programs. However, the authors caution that there is ‘no

disparities across states, territories and regions and in

simple formula’ for approaching outreach and that the

the measurement of such aspects. In South Australia and

DEMO model should be used as a starting point (p. 19).

Western Australia,Year 7 is the last year of primary school,

Significantly, they found that outreach in the formative

but it is the first year of secondary school in Queensland,

years of middle school (Years 5-8) followed up by outreach

New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory

in Years 10-12 is the most beneficial for successful school

and the Australian Capital Territory. Northern Territory

to university transitions.

targeting

low

socioeconomic

students,

moved to include Year 7 in secondary school in 2008 and

Behrendt et al. (2012) likewise observed the need

Queensland made this transition at the beginning of 2015.

for early intervention and ‘sustaining a peer support

The ABS notes that the increase in the apparent

structure for the duration of the student’s schooling and

retention rates of Indigenous students through to Year

higher education and beyond’ (p. 173). Building trust with

12 is increasing at a faster rate than for ‘Other’ students

families and communities, and connecting pedagogies

(Indigenous status not stated or non-Indigenous), but this

with the ‘lived experiences’ of young Aboriginal and

may be due to a number of factors: ‘an actual increase in

Torres Strait Islander students are further important

the number of Indigenous students, an increase in the

transition strategies (p. 174).

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Several universities have designed internal processes

12 students progressed to university compared to ten per

to assist transition whereby student merit beyond the

cent of students nationally with a university level ATAR

value of an ATAR ranking is taken into account when

score (AIME Mentoring, 2013).

students apply for entry. For example, under the Cadigal

The Aspiration Initiative of the Aurora Project is a

Alternative Entry Program, the University of Sydney

residential ‘academic enrichment program’ for Aboriginal

estimates, or re-calculates, Indigenous students’ ATARs

and Torres Strait Islander secondary day students with

and makes recommendations to faculties based on the

high academic achievement and for those with high

course preferences expressed in their state admissions

potential who may be at risk of underachieving. By

centre applications. This enables University of Sydney

building a peer support cohort of students as they move

to reduce the course entry requirement (ATAR score)

into university, the initiative aims to develop the ‘cultural

by five points, providing students who are marginally

capital’ resources necessary to navigate university life

below the entrance rank an opportunity to be assessed

(The Aurora Project, 2011b).

for entry and the possibility of staged and supported engagement studies. If still

within

with a

their

student eight

is

points

of the entry requirement, a

recommendation

can

be made to the faculty to

Yalari

Building trust with families and communities, and connecting pedagogies with the ‘lived experiences’ of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are ... important transition strategies.

is

a

non-profit

organisation that provides scholarships for Indigenous students from regional, rural and

remote

throughout

communities Australia

to

attend 29 boarding schools around Australia to complete

consider accepting a student

their

with a reduced load until

12. Yalari has developed

education

to

Year

such time as enabling programs can be implemented to

partnerships with universities to offer full scholarships

progress the student’s readiness to enrol full-time. The

(Annual Report 2010/2011,Yalari, 2010, p. 26).

University of Notre Dame Australia utilises a model for

It is noteworthy, however, that almost half of Indigenous

all student intake that includes consideration of ATAR

university students do not transition directly from school.

and direct interviews with each student to assess their

In 2010, 47.3 per cent of Indigenous commencing students

suitability for university (Kinnane et al., 2014).

entered university on the basis of their prior educational

In recent years, programs targeting the school-to-

attainment (higher education course, secondary education

university transition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

[HSC], or VET award course). More than half (52.7 per

students have increased. Many universities collaborate

cent) of Indigenous student admissions were through

with schools and communities to provide outreach to

mature age special entry, professional qualifications, or

a greater number of Indigenous students. These diverse

other reasons.At some universities assessment is based on

programs are making progress nationally in raising the

a prospective student’s individual circumstances.

aspirations of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students about ‘going on to uni’ (Kinnane et al., 2014).

Entry via tertiary admissions processes

Valuing and engaging with family and community is a

In 2013, 1.3 per cent (3,539) of applicants to university via

common theme of many successful programs. Outreach

Tertiary Admissions Centres using an ATAR score identified

introducing students to the opportunities of higher

as Indigenous (Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, or both).

education is effective when undertaken early in their

This resulted in offers to 2,703 Indigenous applicants. Over

schooling, and these programs provide an opportunity

three-quarters (76.4 per cent) of Indigenous applicants

to inform communities of what is involved in university

received an offer to study in 2013, compared with 81.7 per

education, as well as seeking information in relation to

cent among non-Indigenous applicants. Applications from

the needs of the community to take back to universities.

Indigenous people are highest in the fields of Education,

To name a few such programs:

Health, and Society and Culture.

Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience engages

Indigenous status is gathered from a self-identification

university students as mentors for Year 7-12 Indigenous

question on the Tertiary Admission Centre form and it

students. In 2013, 93.2 per cent of students participating

is believed that many applicants do not identify as such

in this program completed Year 12 compared to the

at this point (Department of Education Employment

national figure of 71.8 per cent; and 26.8 per cent of Year

and Workplace Relations, 2011a). Significantly, analysis

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Table 4: Indigenous applicants by age, 2013 Age

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Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE), 2012 quoted in Behrendt et al., 2012, p. 49).

Proportion of applications from Indigenous applicants

Proportion of Indigenous people in the general working age population

15 to 19

1.1%

4.2%

to alleviate some of the stress experienced by students

20 to 24

1.3%

3.2%

in transitioning into an unknown university world. They

25 to 39

1.8%

2.4%

40 to 64

2.6%

1.7%

Total

1.3%

2.3%

Source: Department of Education, 2013

Tertiary preparation programs, pre-orientation courses and early entry schemes play a significant role in helping

provide students who wish to study at university (but are not confident or may not meet the entry requirements of their chosen course) with the opportunity to develop the academic skills required. These courses also have the potential to provide students with an understanding of lecturers’ expectations and how universities operate

of applications to university via the Tertiary Admission

in terms of their policies, and course requirements.

Centre by age indicates a high proportion of Indigenous

Further, tertiary preparation courses provide a pathway

applicants aged 40-64. Indeed, as age increases so does

into further study for mature age students and for those

the percentage of Indigenous applications to university as

who have not studied formally for a number of years.

shown in Table 4.

However, those who are entering through enabling

The type of university that Indigenous and non-

programs or bridging programs do not receive Indigenous

Indigenous students applied to in 2013 is shown in Table

Tutorial Assistance (ITAS) support. Behrendt et al. (2012)

5, indicating more Indigenous applications to Innovative

identified this as a serious flaw in the program.

Research Universities, and less to the Group of Eight universities. This is a government typology and the total

Direct application

includes non-aligned universities. The table excludes

The option of applying directly to universities was

applicants whose Indigenous status is unknown.

introduced in 2010. A higher proportion of Indigenous

Although the Group of Eight universities in each state

applications are made directly to universities (2.7 per

have a lower share of applications from Indigenous

cent in 2013), as opposed to applications through Tertiary

students, they claim to have good success and completion

Admission Centres (1.3 per cent). The data suggests that

rates (submission no. 61, University of Western Australia,

more applicants entered from Indigenous admission

in Behrendt et al., 2012, p. 49). However, as Pakeha (2011)

schemes, or pre-tertiary programs, and therefore were

pointed out, the reporting of completion rates is not

more likely to self-identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait

standardised and varies across institutions.

Islander students. However, of the total number of direct applications made (82,890) 7,684 (9.27 per cent) did not

Entry via pre-tertiary preparation programs

record an Indigenous status (Department of Education,

Most universities in Australia offer pre-tertiary or

2013). Table 6 shows the breakdown of applications

preparatory programs. In 2010 over half of the Aboriginal

made directly to universities by permanent home

and Torres Strait Islander students who gained entry

residence across Australia in 2013. The highest number of

to university did so through enabling or special entry

Indigenous direct applications were made in Queensland

programs (Department of Industry, Innovation, Science,

(4.0 per cent), followed by NSW/ACT (3.1 per cent), with

Table 5: Types of university applied to in 2013 Type of university

Applications

Share (%)

Indigenous

Non-Indigenous

Indigenous

Non-Indigenous

Group of Eight

572

84,359

16.2%

31.1%

Australian Technology Network

549

52,741

15.5%

19.5%

1,165

46,729

32.9%

17.2%

384

14,177

10.9%

5.2%

3,539

270,951

100.0%

100.0%

Innovative Research Universities Regional Universities Network Total Source: Department of Education, 2013

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Table 6: Direct applications to universities by state and territory, 2013 State

Non-Indigenous Indigenous

Total **

% Indigenous

NSW/ACT

27,380

1,073

35,105

3.1%

Entry via scholarship programs

Qld

11,281

476

11,984

4.0%

Scholarships to university are offered

SA/NT

3,047

59

3,142

1.8%

for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Vic.

17,936

302

18,501

1.6%

students from universities, governments,

WA

13,352

300

14,247

2.1%

672,996

2,210

82,890

2.7%

non-government

and

industry

sources

for study across a range of disciplines at undergraduate

and

postgraduate

levels

(The Aurora Project, 2011c). However, only limited data is available on the full numbers of scholarships awarded or on completion

Australia *

All applications for the University of Tasmania are included in the Tertiary Admissions Centre count. *The Australia total includes data that could not be assigned to a State. **Applicants with an unknown Indigenous status are included in the total application count. Source: Department of Education, 2013

rates for scholarship supported study, indicating a need for further research and better reporting

(MATSITI) (2012) also provides teaching scholarships for

in this area.

Indigenous students. In addition, industry and business

The Australian Government Indigenous Common-

offer tertiary scholarships, for example the AIEF-BHP

wealth Education Costs Scholarships (previously the

Billiton Iron Ore scholarships to Indigenous students to

Commonwealth Learning Scholarships Program) was

study in mining-related disciplines (Australian Indigenous

introduced in 2004 to assist students from low socio-

Education

economic backgrounds, particularly those from rural

Australia, a government body, provides scholarships

and regional areas and Indigenous students, with costs

for VET and higher education study in the fields of

associated with higher education. Since 2010, the

commercial and economic management (Indigenous

Commonwealth Scholarships Program is open only

Business Australia, 2011).

Foundation, 2011). Indigenous

Business

to commencing students who are identified as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.Additional scholarships within the program include an Indigenous Access Scholarship that provides eligible commencing students

Under-represented cohorts within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education population

with a one off payment to study a higher education undergraduate or eligible enabling course; an Indigenous

Four specific groups within the Aboriginal and Torres

Enabling Commonwealth Education Costs Scholarship;

Strait Islander population are identified as being under-

an

Accommodation

represented in relation to higher education participation:

Scholarship; and an Indigenous Enabling Commonwealth

women as primary carers; young men; prisoners; and

Accommodation

are

people with disabilities. Many students belong to more

administered and awarded by individual universities

than one of these specific groups, sometimes experiencing

on behalf of the Australian Government (Department

multiple layers of disadvantage compounding their

of Industry, 2014). The Department of Human Services

challenges. Targeted data for these groups is limited,

Centrelink office pays a separate Relocation and Student

difficult to find and inconsistent, and thus although the

Start-up Scholarship for students receiving AUSTUDY

literature relating to the experiences of these groups is

or ABSTUDY assistance and undertaking an accredited

scant, the following discussion draws from the available

higher education course or preparatory, enabling course

data at the time of writing.

Indigenous

Commonwealth Scholarship. The

scholarships

(Department of Human Services, 2014). Teaching scholarships to support and increase the

Women who are primary carers

number of Indigenous teachers in schools include

In 2013, women comprised 66.3 per cent of Aboriginal

the Governor-General’s Indigenous Student Teacher

and Torres Strait Islander enrolled higher education

Scholarships, awarded to one teacher education student

students (Department of Education, 2014); the same

from each state and territory, offering $25,000 per year

percentage was recorded in 2010 (Behrendt et al.,

for up to four years, to assist with study costs. The More

2012, p. 8). The rate of participation of Aboriginal and

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Initiative

Torres Strait Islander women in further education from

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their mid-thirties is higher than Aboriginal and Torres

company reports of the numbers of Indigenous peoples

Strait Islander men or non-Indigenous men and women

they train, educate and employ.

(Doyle & Hill, 2012, p. 25). A profile of Aboriginal women indicates they are often single mothers (Biddle & Yap,

People with disabilities

2010, cited in Doyle & Hill, 2012, p. 10) who may defer

An accurate picture of the educational achievement and

education until their children have completed schooling.

aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons

Care costs and availability, access to information, peer and

with disabilities is difficult to obtain because of variations

family networks, Indigenous Education Units, enabling

and limitations in definitions and statistics. Since 1998, the

courses and away-from-base courses contribute to

ABS has defined disability as ‘any limitation, restriction or

Aboriginal women’s decisions relating to the timing of

impairment which restricts everyday activities and has

their transition to further education. Enabling Aboriginal

lasted or is likely to last for at least six months’ (Australian

women to maintain cultural and family connections is an

Bureau of Statistics, 2013c).

important factor assisting them to educational success

Statistics for Indigenous Australians with disabilities are

(White, 2007, cited in Doyle & Hill, 2012). However, data

limited; before 2002 there were no surveys to do with

on the transitions and progress of Aboriginal and Torres

the extent and nature of disabilities among the Australian

Strait Islander women who are primary carers in higher

population. The 2009 ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and

education is limited.

Carers (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013c) measured

Young men

the prevalence of disability in Australia and the need for support for people with a disability.The 2009 results were

A number of studies have identified a preference for

the first to include data for Indigenous peoples, although

vocational training over academic education among

the survey excluded people living in very remote areas

young Indigenous men from rural and regional areas

(15 per cent of whom are Indigenous). The overall rate of

(Craven & Marder, 2007; James, 2000; Larkins et al.,

disability of Indigenous peoples in 2009 was 28 per cent,

2009). In a small study with Indigenous young people in

compared with 17.6 per cent for non-Indigenous; and

schools and a youth shelter in Townsville, Queensland,

was higher for Indigenous children aged 0-14 years than

Larkins et al. (2009) found a higher percentage of young

for non-Indigenous children (14.2 per cent compared

men (20.5 per cent) felt they would be ‘happy/proud’

with 6.6 per cent). The Productivity Commission (2011)

to be teenage fathers than young women (9.1 per cent)

estimated there were 26,000 Indigenous Australians with

(p. 15). Supporting this position, young men in the study

a ‘profound or severe core activity limitation’ (p. 533), with

expressed a preference for employment after school to

the highest level of disability in remote areas. Although

enable them to fulfil traditional family provider roles (p.

statistics are considered to be underestimated, they are

17). To counter the impact of government policies that

higher than those for non-Indigenous Australians, and

place responsibility at the individual level, and do not

barriers to support are greater for Aboriginal and Torres

consider implicit inequalities and power imbalances,

Strait Islander peoples. The Productivity Commission

Larkins et al. (2009) recommended assistance for families

(2011) based its inquiry report, Disability care and

and students in mapping pathways to higher education;

support, on the 2006 Census and the 2008 National

changes in pedagogy and policy; and co-operation

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey,

between vocational and educational sectors. Behrendt

although it claimed the statistics may be underestimated.

et al. (2012) also recommended collaboration across

Reasons suggested for this under-representation include

educational sectors, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait

non-response rates to census and surveys, and a difficulty

Islander bodies and organisations, and government

for Indigenous people to relate to the concept of disability

agencies.

(Productivity Commission, 2011).

The mining industry actively supports and recruits

In 2008, approximately 42 per cent of Aboriginal and

Indigenous peoples in some areas of Queensland and

Torres Strait Islander people with a disability or long-term

Western Australia, in conjunction with VET, universities

health condition had left school at Year 9 or below with

and private providers. Indigenous enrolments in these

18 per cent having completed school to Year 12. Further,

programs are higher for males but tend to be in short

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25-64

‘enabling’ courses, or at the lower end of the certification

years with a disability or long-term health condition

spectrum (Taylor & Scambary, 2005, p. 87). Tiplady &

tend not to have post school qualifications higher than a

Barclay (2007) identified inconsistent standards in mining

Certificate III (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011). Most

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university Indigenous Engagement Units have strong

The 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in

relationships (Kinnane et al., 2014) with their universities’

Custody recommended the development of a national

mainstream disability services and play a significant role in

strategy to ‘improve the opportunities for the education

connecting students with appropriate disability support

and training of those in custody’ (Royal Commission into

services by ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,1991, p. 705). In 1999, all

students are aware of the services available to them on

state and territory governments agreed to such a strategy

campus. However, this is yet another situation where the

(Department of Education, Science and Training, 1999).

onus of identifying a disability or sharing details is upon

Specific recommendations included access to funding

the student who may or may not choose to disclose their

through the Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives

disability.

Program, and the ‘lawful custody allowance’ to assist

People in the prison system seeking higher education participation

Indigenous people in custody with full-time study costs, excluding tuition fees (Centrelink, 2008). This allowance still exists but there appears to be little evidence of its

At March 2014, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014)

use (Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), 2011).

reported 9,220 average daily full-time adult prisoners

Miller’s (2007) review noted there was no evidence that

(defined by the ABS as ‘persons in custody’) identified as

‘relevant government departments’ endorsed the national

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or just over one quarter

strategy, or that there was any systematic monitoring or

(28 per cent) of the total prisoner population. The figure

evaluation of the strategy (p. 206, n. 6).

consisted of 8,320 (90 per cent) male and 900 (10 per

Some universities offer distance learning opportunities

cent) female prisoners.The ABS cautions that these figures

for prisoners. For example, Nulloo Yumbah, Central

are dependent on the prison population self-identifying as

Queensland University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and therefore may not

Islander Learning, Spirituality and Research Centre

be a fully accurate representation.

delivers its Tertiary Entry Program in correctional centres,

Limited data is available regarding higher educational

and supports inmates enrolled in other university

aspirations, participation levels and achievements of

programs. TRACKS, a tertiary preparation program at the

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons who are

University of New England, delivers distance education to

currently incarcerated (Carnes, 2011). However, it is

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men at the Woodford

known that correlations between low levels of education

Correctional Centre in Queensland (Behrendt et al. 2012).

and high levels of incarceration among Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples are complex. The potential value of

Conclusion

education in reducing imprisonment rates is recognised, although it is acknowledged that this is only one

This paper has reviewed recent available data relating to

contributing factor (Senate Select Committee on Regional

the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

and Remote Communities, 2010). The Senate Committee

students in higher education. It draws together some

identified limited research into this area in Australia, citing

significant statistical trends and realities concerning

mainly international literature, and highlighted a need for

student experiences to do with access, entry and

further investigation and evidence-based data underlying

transition through higher education. It notes that

policy and practice to enhance opportunities for prisoners

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students entering

seeking higher education opportunities. A review of

university through mainstream high school entry

education and training for incarcerated Aboriginal and

represent less than half of the Aboriginal and Torres

Torres Strait Islander persons (Miller, 2007) reinforced the

Strait Islander university population.This proportion has

lack of data regarding the number undertaking education

the potential to increase, and indeed is being gradually

and training, nationally and in states and territories, and

increased, through many of the available strategies and

the limited nature of research into this area. Provision

programs aimed at increasing pathways from secondary

continues to be inconsistent, varying by jurisdiction and

education to university.

by institution with other barriers to inmates including

However, university course completion rates are

limitations on the subject areas in which degrees can be

significantly lower among Aboriginal and Torres Strait

undertaken, access to computers for online learning, and

Islander students than for non-Indigenous students. This

an inability to participate in practical classes (Kinnane et

signals an ongoing and major need for targeted investment

al., 2014).

in skills, knowledge and support for these students to

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negotiate higher education cultures successfully through

Neil Drew (ECU), and also the three project leaders:

to course completion.

UNDA Professors Marguerite Maher, Lyn Henderson-Yates

The VET sector is more successful at attracting Aboriginal

and Patrick Dodson.

and Torres Strait Islander students than universities, but the greater emphasis on training of the former does not

Judith Wilks is a Senior Lecturer and Academic Director in

provide significant pathway possibilities for Aboriginal

the School of Education, Southern Cross University, Coffs

and Torres Strait Islander students to transition into

Harbour, NSW.

university from VET. More effective engagement between the VET and university sectors could include creating

Katie Wilson is a researcher and PhD candidate in the School

effective bridging programs to university from the VET

of Education, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, NSW.

sector (Kinnane et al., 2014), and extending the eligibility of students to participate in the ITAS-Tertiary Tuition (ITAS-TT) scheme whilst undertaking these programs. It is noted that funding for ITAS-TT is, at the time of writing, only assured for 2015. Cultural shifts are required in the way statistics are collected and in the manner in which data is analysed and interpreted. Indeed, there are many issues and challenges for the sector as a whole to do with the collection and interpretation of data relating to Aboriginal andTorres Strait Islander participation in higher education. Improvements to data collection methods and approaches require the building of relationships of trust (Taylor, Doran, Parriman, & Yu, 2012), cultural collaborations, and the scoping of variations in definitions and terminology across different geographic areas and among peoples (Doyle & Prout, 2012; Martin, Morphy, Sanders, & Taylor, 2004). Notwithstanding these complexities to do with the data, the current and persistent reality remains the critical challenge of improving transitions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to higher education. Irrespective of the measure of population parity applied for participation, parity has not yet been achieved. Achievement in this arena involves not just success in enrolling more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into university, but in improving the retention and completion rates of these students, and the qualities of their engagements and experiences in university life during their journey through higher education.

Acknowledgements This article is associated with an Office for Learning and Teaching funded project ‘Can’t be what you can’t see’:The transition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander students into higher education’. The authors of this article would like to acknowledge the contributions to their research by colleagues: Stephen Kinnane (UNDA), Ms Sue Thomas (formerly of UNDA) and Terri Hughes (formerly of BIITE),

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James, R. (2000). TAFE, university or work: The early preferences and choices of students in years 10, 11 and 12. Leabrook, SA: NCVER. Kinnane, S., Wilks, J., Wilson, K., Hughes, T., & Thomas, S. (2014). ‘Can’t be what you can’t see’: The transition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into higher education. Retrieved from http://www.olt.gov. au/project-transition-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-students-highereducation-2011-0. Larkins, S., Page, P., Panaretto, K. S., Scott, R., Mitchell, M., Alberts, V., . . . McGinty, S. (2009). Educational aspirations and views of pregnancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Townsville, Australia. Redress, 18(3), 11-18. Martin, D., Morphy, F., Sanders, W., & Taylor, J. (2004). Making sense of the census: Observations of the 2001 enumeration in remote Aboriginal Australia. Canberra, ACT. Miller, C. (2007). Education and training for Indigenous people in prisons. In S. Dawe (Ed.), Vocational education and training for adult prisoners and offenders in Australia: Research readings (pp. 204-234). Adelaide, SA: NCVER. Retrieved from http://www.ncver.edu.au/publications/1789.html. More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Initiative. (2012). More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Initiative (MATSITI). Retrieved from http://matsiti.edu.au/. National Centre for Vocational Education Research. (2013). Australian vocational education and training statistics: Indigenous students 2012. Retrieved from http://www.ncver.edu.au/publications/2644.html. O’Neill, M., Kirov, E., & Thomson, N. (2004). A review of literature on disability services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Australian Indigenous Health Bulletin, 4(4). http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/html/html_ bulletin//bull_44/reviews/oneill/reviews_oneill.pdf. Pakeha, E. (2011). Submission from Eike Pakeha to the Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People context paper, 2011. Canberra, ACT: Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Funding Retrieved from http:// www.industry.gov.au/HigherEducation/IndigenousHigherEducation/ ReviewOfIndigenousHigherEducation/Documents/Submissions/ SubmissionfromEikePakeha.pdf. Panel for the Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. (2011). Review of higher education access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: Context paper and call for submissions. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia Retrieved from http://www.deewr.gov.au/Indigenous/HigherEducation/ ReviewofIndigenousHigherEducation/Submissions/Documents/ IndigenousHigherEducationReview-ContextPaper.pdf. Pechenkina, E., & Anderson, I. (2011). Background paper on Indigenous Australian higher education: Trends, initiatives and policy implications. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Pechenkina, E., Kowal , E., & Paradies, Y. (2011). Indigenous Australian students’ participation rates in higher education: Exploring the role of universities. Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 40(1), 59-68. Productivity Commission. (2011). Disability care and support: Productivity Commission Inquiry report. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/disability-support/report. Prout, S. (2010). Developing measures of population mobility amongst Indigenous primary school students CAEPR Working Paper No. 73/2010. Canberra, ACT: CAEPR, Australian National University. Rowse, T. (2009). Official statistics and the contemporary politics of Indigeneity. Australian Journal of Political Science, 44(2), 193-211. Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (1991). National report. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government Publishing Service.

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Taylor, J., Doran, B., Parriman, M., & Yu, E. (2012). Statistics for community governance: The Yawuru Indigenous population survey of Broome. Canberra, ACT: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research. Retrieved from http://caepr.anu.edu.au/. Taylor, J., Gray, M., Hunter, B., Yap, M., & Lahn, J. (2011). Higher education and the growth of Indigenous participation in professional and managerial occupations. Retrieved from http://caepr.anu.edu.au/. Taylor, J., & Scambary, B. (2005) Indigenous people and the Pilbara mining boom: A baseline for regional participation. Canberra, ACT: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University. The Aurora Project. (2011a). The need for increased support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – statistical analysis and some lessons from the United States. Retrieved from http:// www.industry.gov.au/highereducation/IndigenousHigherEducation/ ReviewOfIndigenousHigherEducation/FinalReport/references.html.

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Perceptions of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework 2014 A small survey of academics Tony Murphy Sheffield Hallam University

Daniel Sage University of the West of Scotland

Earlier work inspired by a body of literature raised important questions about the workings of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) and its predecessor the Research Assessment Framework (RAE), and noted the possible adverse outcomes of such processes. This paper builds on this by examining the findings of a small survey of social science academics. The survey identified concerns about the validity of the REF as a proxy for quality, and the role it has had in shaping patterns of research behaviour. There were also frequent concerns related to morale. Yet although responses tended to be negative, there was also a significant voice signalling the importance the REF plays in ensuring accountability and transparency in research, as well as a sense that the pressures that come with such processes are simply ‘part and parcel’ of academic life. The role of wider time-management factors, related to heavy teaching and administration burdens, was also signalled, and cited by some as overshadowing the pressures of REF. Keywords: impact, intellectual freedom, pressures to publish, research assessment, Research Excellence Framework

Introduction

of overall quality, from ‘one-star’ (1*) to ‘four-star’ (4*) (as well as an ‘unclassified’ category). These categories were

The UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) is used

determined by the weighted sub-profiles of ‘output’,

to determine the ‘quality’ of research activity within

‘impact’, and ‘environment’. Research rated as ‘4*’

UK universities, which subsequently informs research

indicates that it is ‘world-leading’, whilst ‘one-star’ denotes

funding allocation from the major funding bodies (REF,

research of national recognition (REF, 2012). The results

2012). Replacing the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE),

were published in December 2014 and have prompted

the REF has just completed its first cycle involving the

a multitude of press reporting and claims of success

assessment of research undertaken between 2008 and

from universities across the UK, who arguably chose to

2013. This utilised 36 units (subject areas) of assessment,

interpret the results in the manner most sympathetic

each assessed by sub-panels of subject experts. The

to them. On the REF results day, The Times Higher

submissions from universities were placed in categories

Education published a ‘table of excellence’ pertaining to

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the overall grade-point average for university submissions

so prominently in this cycle, and equally, the resistance

(Jump, 2014a).The same article also offered an alternative

this has generated, where ‘impact’ has been understood

ranking, this time based on grade-point average

by academics:

specifically relating to ‘impact’. This offered a revised order of universities. On the same day, the Telegraph published a different ranking, this time based on ‘research power’, where the actual volume of research is integral to the placing of an individual institution (Telegraph,

…as an infringement to a scholarly way of life; as symptomatic of the marketisation of higher education, and as fundamentally incompatible and deleterious to the production of new knowledge (Watermeyer, 2014, p. 1).

2014). This ranking is a closer proxy to the likely funding

Following the fall-out from the publication of results

allocations as a result of the REF and, importantly, varies

for REF 2014, Jump (2015) explored the role of ‘impact’,

significantly from other rankings. The proportion of

particularly ‘impact case studies’, and the possibility for

4* research, or proportion of 4* plus 3* have also been

game-playing to have occurred at the level of institutions,

used to confirm ranking. Not surprisingly, on university

as well as REF panels. In the case of the latter, this was

websites and in press releases, universities carefully chose

suggested as a possible ploy by panel members to

which measure to cite. Thus, any one of a handful of

ensure their discipline was not perceived to have been

universities can claim to be the ‘best’ in the country for

underperforming in relation to ‘impact’ and found wanting

research. The Guardian picked up on this in an article

in comparison with other disciplines.

that asked whether the REF has ‘been drowned out by its

In a similar vein to much of the above commentary,

own noise’. In the Guardian article, it was suggested that

Murphy and Sage (2014) found that academics reporting

when 25 university departments can claim to be in the

on the REF tended to be sceptical about it in one form

top three for research in their field, which appears to be

or another. Often, this was related to a discussion about

the case amongst the REF 2014 fallout, then the value of

‘impact’, and in a related sense, the demands of proving

the REF comes in to question (Wolff, 2015). Seemingly, the

‘impact’ (see HEFCE, 2010 for a discussion of ‘impact’),

publication of the REF results and their malleability has

or wider anxieties created by the demand to prove

caused some confusion and controversy, often in a similar

your worth (Murphy & Sage, 2014). The paper also

vein to the actual processes of the exercise itself.

demonstrated that, although reporting on the REF was

Yet, as some have noted, research assessment exercises

primarily (but not exclusively) negative, the level of this

such as the REF have important implications and are

varied according to author type and their institutional

linked to a number of matters such as accountability

base. It was also shown that those author characteristics

and efficiency of research (Ab Iorwerth, 2005). Equally,

appeared to shape the types of concerns being raised

a number of papers have reported on the possibility

in relation to the REF. Yet, themes such as ‘impact’,

for adverse outcomes from such assessments (e.g. Hare,

‘funding’, and ‘marketisation’ were most prominent, all of

2003; Bowring, 2008; Wells, 2013 and so on). A number

which appear to be connected. Authors also seemed to

of authors have signalled their dissatisfaction with the

be concerned with how the REF might adversely shape

workings of the REF, pointing to its potentially divisive

researcher behaviour; narrowing the type of research

and morale-sapping nature (e.g., see Jump, 2014b), and

undertaken. This concern is reflected elsewhere (e.g.

the potential for it to adversely shape the nature of

Watermeyer, 2012, 2014). There are also concerns that

research being conducted. Townsend (2012), like other

the pressures of playing the game can adversely shape

authors, has highlighted the danger that the REF might

behaviours, possibly creating incentives to cut-corners

restrict the type of work being done to meet the criteria

– the possible outcomes of this have been explored

of inclusion in the REF. Wells (2013) also explored this

previously (e.g., see Fanelli, 2010; Murphy, 2013).

possibility. The actual effort involved in meeting the

The REF, like the previous guise of the RAE, has high

submission requirements, for example in preparing

stakes: and universities have invested heavily in the

‘impact case studies’, has also been questioned by some

process, including the buying-up of researchers to boost

(e.g., see Jump, 2014b). The requirement to demonstrate

REF scores (Jump, 2014b). Unsurprisingly, controversy has

‘impact’ and the weighting placed on this within the

inevitably followed. Academic researchers and managers

assessment was particularly noteworthy in REF 2014.This

alike have had to ‘dance to the tune’ of the REF despite

has been viewed as problematic for some time (e.g., see

genuine concerns about the nature of the processes

Miller & Sabapathy, 2011). Watermeyer (2012, 2014) has

involved and possible adverse outcomes. Seemingly,

detailed the context within which ‘impact’ has figured

the implications of this extend beyond the UK. Such

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research assessment exercises exist in many countries:

other work in this area, highlight some important issues

the Performance-based Research Fund in New Zealand;

in need of attention.

the Netherlands Research Embedment and Performance Profile; and the Australia Research Quality Framework

Results

(now Excellence in Research for Australia – ERA) are just some examples (see Curtis, 2015). With this, the extent to

Respondents to the survey were more or less equally split

which a balance is struck between ensuring excellence of

between men and women, and they affiliated themselves

research and value for money, with fostering morale and

with a range of social science subjects, across both

fit-for-purpose proxies for ‘quality’, appears to vary.

research-intensive and teaching-intensive institutions and

Our aim in this paper is to examine input from

both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Most

individual academics who responded to our survey, in

were either senior lecturers or lecturers, and just over

order to determine the extent to which those voices

half had participated in a previous RAE. On reviewing

reflect or challenge the issues raised in our earlier paper

the qualitative data, we identified five themes of interest.

and in other recent commentary on the REF.

Some of the themes demonstrate some level of concern amongst academics about the way in which the REF has

Methodology

worked and its anticipated outcomes. However, there was also some level of acceptance, and even positivity about

We disseminated an online questionnaire to academics

the REF, and some academics pointed to the wider context

in England and Scotland in late 2012. As social scientists

of academia as being of more relevance than the REF to

we focused on that section of academia. The survey link

the possible pressures and stresses that academics might

was sent to those identified as gatekeepers to academic

face.The emergent themes from the qualitative responses

mailing-lists within social science departments and

are presented below and, where appropriate, they are

groupings within institutions; this varied according

supplemented with data from the structured elements of

to institution, but tended to be senior administrators,

the survey.

departmental heads and subject leads.We split institutions into their associated mission groups in order ensure that

‘REF-able’ work only

we targeted a variety of university types: both research-

A number of respondents were concerned that REF

intensive

institutions. The

narrowed the type of research being conducted and the

questionnaire offered respondents a series of questions,

type of publications encouraged within departments, where

each designed to assess the extent to which they viewed

only certainly types of work and publications were deemed

the forthcoming REF as a positive or negative process,

to be ‘REF-able’. For example, one noted that the REF:

and

teaching-intensive

what they associated with the process in terms of likely outcomes and any possible issues associated with the REF. The response rate to our questionnaire was relatively low,

‘dictates what people write and research, under-values theoretical work… and deters academics from embarking on major long-term projects’.

despite us sending two waves of requests. We received

In a related sense, another respondent reflected

64 completed surveys from the pool of 33 institutions

negative experiences associated with the prioritisation of

we contacted. The responses did however raise some

research within departments:

interesting questions. The final question in the survey was an open-ended request for ‘any other comments’. We found this to be of particular interest owing to the level of qualitative data obtained, thus our main emphasis within this paper is

‘projects are being turned down, longer-term – and arguably more interesting and more internationallyrelevant – projects are being turned down as ‘too ambitious for this REF’ and funding is being given to those who already have full, relatively strong, submissions’.

to analyse these responses. We received 32 qualitative statements, some of which were particularly detailed

For other researchers, a major issue was how the

– perhaps suggesting that some academics had a lot to

REF incentivised the production of ‘measurable impact

say about the REF. The responses came from a mixture

factors’, rather than research that academics considered

of both research and teaching-intensive institutions and

to be ‘socially and politically important’. Indeed, another

from both junior and senior academics. The data can by

respondent noted how the ‘measurement of research’

no-means be viewed as representative of academia as a

inherent within the REF was, in her eyes, ‘distasteful,

whole but, when viewed more widely in the context of

difficult and against the principle of academic freedom’.

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This was a common feeling amongst respondents: that the REF constrained and limited academic research. In addition, the following reflected concerns for how publishing habits were being shaped by the requirements of REF submissions: ‘The more academics are pressured to publish their work in more elite journals, the less we are able to communicate with and disseminate our ideas to the public sphere’. Perhaps then there is the possibility that competing

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Impact case-studies were cited within the responses as being time-consuming and, more widely, the costs and energies of the administrative demands of the REF were noted by some, for example: ‘The time that I have already had to spend on the administrative side of the REF (particularly impact case-studies, but also reporting information through cumbersome online bureaucratic systems) is so enormous that I could have written, realistically speaking, at least three additional articles or half a book manuscript in the time that has been consumed.’

agendas exist, where true ‘impact’ of work and the prestige of publication do not always mirror each other.

Another issue generated in the responses concerned

Another respondent noted the problems associated with

the REF requirement to submit just four outputs, which

the specific situation of co-authored papers, where they

was perceived to have meant that prolific researchers

count for the REF in some instances, such as external

are not duly rewarded for their sustained and successful

collaborations, but not for others, such as internal

engagement with research.

collaborations. Whilst another statement focused on the relatively low standing of books within the REF process:

Where

respondents

were

asked

about

their

participation in REF 2014 within the structured part of the

‘I have published a book with a top publisher in the current REF period, I have been deterred from publishing another book because of the need to get articles in top journals.’

questionnaire, 35 of the 60 respondents to that question

A different respondent noted how:

some confusion amongst academics about what might

‘I was told by an external reviewer that this [human rights research] did not count for REF purposes as it is not ‘purely scholarly work’ and not written in the appropriate ‘scholarly form’. If such work does not count for the REF, then there is something seriously wrong with the REF.’

qualify them for inclusion or, alternatively, whether their

went on to participate, five did not have the necessary publications, three were to opt-out, and interestingly, the rest were unsure. Thus seemingly, the REF prompted

department intended to use their outputs. One respondent saw the inherent positives of such a measurement instrument, but argued that processes associated with the REF essentially ‘offers management a tool to apply undue pressure on its staff’; this is reflected

In the body of the survey, pressures to publish were

more broadly in our later discussion about morale.

cited as influencing the nature of work being undertaken.

Several respondents additionally mentioned the very

Although the responses varied significantly across the

real prospect of researchers and institutions ‘gaming the

scale we used, there was a slight skew towards responses

system’, to the detriment of the actual aims of the REF

at the higher levels when respondents were asked

vis-à-vis encouraging and rewarding quality of research.

whether academic freedoms were compromised by the

Another response suggested that:

demands of the REF, and the pressures to publish.

The REF as an ineffective measurement Many of the surveyed academics were concerned with the actual processes associated with the REF: how this might

‘the REF has produced greater attempts at managerial/ top-down influence on research direction. It skews the balance between teaching and research, effectively ‘dumbing down’ both’.

be subject to ‘game-playing’ and how such processes

Concerns for morale and careers

missed the point in terms of effectively encouraging,

A concern for how the REF and the processes associated

assessing and rewarding research quality. For example,

with it adversely impacted on staff morale appeared often

one respondent noted how despite acknowledging that

within the qualitative responses and also in the more

accountability of research was important:

structured element of the questionnaire. For example, one

‘the way in which the government does it through the REF (and QAA, the Quality Assurance Agency) is the worst possible way, since it imposes enormous costs of administration and seeking to game the system and measures quality very poorly.’

34

qualitative statement noted how the ‘pressure to publish together with increased difficulty in getting published has an impact on morale’, whilst another stated, in relation to processes such as the REF, that it feels as though ‘it undermines much of our work’.

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Another respondent noted how the REF determined

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Time management is the issue

that only research-prolific staff were considered ‘attractive’

On being asked about pressures to publish on a scale of

to prospective employers, who may simply be looking to

‘1 to 10’ within the structured element of our survey, the

hire ‘REF-able’ academics. Yet periods of maternity leave

majority of the sample reported significant pressures, with

had meant that her publication record was ‘not what it

46 of the 62 respondents for that question positioning

would have been’ and, consequently, she claimed that ‘the

themselves in the top four scores – the highest levels of

wellbeing of my family is impacted to an extent in that I

pressure. Follow-up questions then asked whether such

cannot get work closer to home…It all comes down to

pressures had an impact on other academic duties, and

publications’.

a skew towards the higher levels was evident, but this

Another explained how they sought to leave UK

was not as apparent as it was in the earlier question. A

academia to work overseas.The structured element of the

skew towards the higher levels was then demonstrated

survey supported some of these accounts. For example, on

when respondents were asked whether there had been

being asked whether the pressures to publish had made

an increase over time in publishing pressures; 35 of the

them consider changing jobs as a result, 23 out of the 60

57 respondents here occupied the top four levels. Further,

respondents for that question positioned themselves in

on being asked how those pressures might have affected

the top four scores on our scale – indicating that they had

them, respondents cited particularly longer working

considered their position with some intent.

hours, change in expectations from management and less time for other academic duties (from a provided list).

Self-imposed pressures

These feelings were also evident in the qualitative

A number of respondents noted that they had not

responses to the survey, with time management cited as

experienced pressures to publish, either because they

one of the most important issues for academics. Amongst

were new in their role, had been well-supported by

the qualitative statements, one respondent remarked that:

their department, or they did not define themselves as

‘The real problem is the increasing burden of teaching and administration…I am now doing more teaching and administration (which I do not enjoy) than research. That is why I am considering a career change.’

a researcher. Others were fairly staunch in noting how pressures to publish in academia, whether related to the REF or otherwise, were ‘part and parcel’ of working in the sector and often self-imposed: even if some did not agree with the way in which the REF was conducted. For example:

In a related sense, one response indicated that ‘much of what this questionnaire covers is really down to time

‘The pressure I feel to publish is as much about me seeing publication as a way to career development beyond my current institution.’ Similar opinions were offered by other respondents who, despite the pressures to publish inherent in the REF process, stated that a proportion of this pressure came

management’, whilst another stated that: ‘my duties do not give me time to work on my publications, I feel like I am cheating if I work on my own research when I should be doing admin in work time because the norm is that we’re expected to work on these outside of office hours.’

from them, with publishing being seen as fundamental to

Such sentiment is reflected in this final remark:

an academic career and research dissemination. Further,

‘In my case and (I suspect) a number of others, pressures really originated through massive teaching and administrative burdens – leading to very high working hours and inadequate holidays, while still not being able to devote as much time as desired to research.’

some respondents claimed that institutions had increased the amount of support given to staff to concentrate on publishing research as a consequence of the REF. Nevertheless, a common feeling was that although publishing was an integral part of academic work, the REF process could sometimes act in a corrupting way, with

Conclusions

one respondent noting that although publishing was the ‘best part of my job’ and a ‘main motivation’, the overall

Although our survey elicited fewer responses than we had

measurement strategy was ‘distasteful’. Thus, seemingly,

anticipated, the data did raise a number of concerns in

feelings towards the relationship between the REF

relation to how the REF was viewed as having a negative

process and the publishing process are more balanced

impact on academia and the working environment within

than earlier themes might have signalled.

UK universities. Much of this corresponds with what we found in our 2014 paper and other recent reporting on

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the REF (e.g. Curtis, 2015; Jump, 2015; Watermeyer, 2014).

References

Yet, this has to be put in to context. A number of the

Ab Iorwerth, A. (2005). Methods of Evaluating University Research Around the World. Ontario: Department of Finance.

respondents noted that the REF has a valuable role to play in ensuring quality, value for money and allowing funding to follow excellence. This is perfectly understandable, provided the processes involved with the REF function in the manner that meets the intended outcomes without adversely shaping behaviours of staff and institutions. In this context, many of our respondents had bought in to the philosophy of such assessment instruments, even though some of them did signal scope for possible improvement. There was a significant voice pointing to wider industry pressures, such as heavy administrative and teaching burdens as occupying a more significant role in determining staff morale and pressures. It was also noted how pressures were often self-imposed, in the pursuit of promotion and self-development, and that this is ‘part and parcel’ of working in academia. It must also be noted however that differences between institutional type and researcher seniority will most likely have influenced some of the interesting diversity of perspective towards the REF demonstrated in our data. The discussions around the REF have been more balanced than some would imagine, but they have still tended to be negatively skewed on the whole. Our analysis here suggests that many academics have genuine concerns about the implications of the REF affecting their morale, their sense of their role and, potentially, their employment within the sector. Yet some did adopt a more sympathetic view. As we and other authors are currently involved in examining the fall-out from REF 2014, universities across the UK are readying themselves for the requirements of REF 2020 and the new challenges that this will provoke, which are set to include changes to the sub-profile weightings and an emphasis on open-

Bowring, R. (2008, 5 June). Pressure to publish is hurting universities. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2008/ jun/05/highereducation. Curtis, B. (2015). The Performance-based Research Fund, gender and a cultural cringe. Globalisation, Societies and Education, DOI: 10.1080/14767724.2014.996856. Fanelli, D. (2010). Do Pressures to publish increase scientists’ bias? An empirical support from US states data. PLoS ONE. 5(4) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010271. Hare, P. (2003). The UK’s Research Assessment Exercise: Impact on Institutions, Departments, Individuals. Higher Education Management and Policy. 15(2), 43-62. HEFCE. (2010). Research Excellence Framework impact pilot exercise: Findings of the expert panels. A report to the UK higher education funding bodies by the chairs of the impact pilot panels. Retrieved from http://www.ref.ac.uk/media/ref/content/pub/researchexcellenceframework impactpilotexercisefindingsoftheexpertpanels/re01_10.pdf. Jump, P. (2014a, 18 December). REF 2014 results: table of excellence. Times Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/ news/ref-2014-results-table-of-excellence/2017590.article. Jump, P. (2014b, 27 February). The REF: how was it for you? Times Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/features/theref-how-was-it-for-you/2011548.article. Jump, P. (2015, 19 February). The impact of impact. Times Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/features/feature-theimpact-of-impact/2018540.article. Miller, N., & Sabathy, J. (2011). Open Universities: A Vision for the Public University in the Twenty-first Century. In J. A. Holmwood (Ed.), Manifesto for the Public University (pp. 42-55). London: Bloomsbury. Murphy, T. (2013). Why we need to think about research malpractice in the social sciences. Criminal Justice Matters, 94(1), 26-27. Murphy, T., & Sage, D. (2014). Perceptions of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework 2014: a media analysis. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 36(6), 603-615. Telegraph. (2014, 18 December). League tables: the top universities for research. Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/ universityeducation/11299261/League-tables-the-top-universities-for-research. html.

are learnt.

Townsend, T. (2012). The publication game: acceptable and not-acceptable in the British REF exercise. International Journal of Leadership in Education: Theory and Practice, 15(1), 421-435.

Tony Murphy, FHEA is a senior lecturer in criminology at

REF. (2012). Research Excellence Framework. Retrieved from http://www.ref. ac.uk/.

access publications. It is hoped that lessons from the past

Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK. Daniel Sage is a social policy researcher at the University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, UK.

Watermeyer, R. (2012). Issues in the articulation of ‘impact’: the response of UK academics to ‘impact’ as a new measure of research assessment. Studies in Higher Education, 39(2), 359-377. Watermeyer, R. (2014). Impact in the REF: issues and obstacles. Studies in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2014.915303. Wells, P. (2013). The REF will strangle our vibrant academic community: it will alter morale, academic valuation of our work and the way in which we do it. Impact of Social Sciences [blog], 23 January. Retrieved from http://blogs.lse. ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2012/01/23/ref-will-strangle-academia/. Wolff, J. (2015, 27 January). Has the Research Excellence Framework been drowned out by its own noise? The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www. theguardian.com/education/2015/jan/27/research-excellence-frameworkuniversity.

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Blurred boundaries Negotiating a common core subject in a multi-faculty Bachelor of Environments degree Andrys Onsman & Clare Newton University of Melbourne

In 2008, the University of Melbourne rolled out its restructured undergraduate degree program offerings. Rather than offering a multitude of faculty-specific degrees, the University started to offer a limited number of generalist degrees that serve as developmental pathways to specialist masters programs as well as stand-alone employment preparation. While the other ‘Melbourne Model’ degrees in arts, science, commerce and biomedicine primarily aligned with their cognate faculty, one degree, the Bachelor of Environments, was taught across four faculties. Three reviews of this unusual undergraduate degree have been undertaken since 2009 with each recommending that the degree reduce the number of common core first year subjects to one. However, the decision to reduce to one core subject proved difficult within the blurred boundaries of cross-faculty management structures. This paper analyses the strategies being used to reach consensus following the most recent review. Keywords: interdisciplinary degrees, curriculum reform, change management

The task of reaching a consensus among a diverse set

on maintaining or expanding academic territory, ensuring

of discipline-based academics spread across separate

that staff retain their positions, decisions that maintain or

faculties is fundamentally one of amalgamating opinion

increase influence and control and so on.

from widely divergent areas of expertise within

The calendars of most universities require changes to

the constraints of time and institutional functional

adhere to rigid timetables as well as due processes, most

requirements. The emergent consensus needs to be

of which are based on quality assurance. In general, this

pedagogically sound, both in terms of being student-

means that decisions need to be made at predetermined

focussed and learning-centred and as a fundamental

times, in accordance with predetermined regulatory

element of a degree program that functions as preparation

criteria. Whereas on the one hand, the structure can

for both further study and entry into the workforce. This

expedite change, it can also be used to delay change in

paper tracks a specific component of the change process

circumstances, such as cross-faculty decision-making,

precipitated by a review recommendation to change

where changes need to rely on consensus rather

substantially the structure of a cross-faculty taught degree

than authority. This paper analyses how the process

in a way that would likely have significant impact on

maintained a purposeful trajectory towards change while

content as well as student-fee distribution. It focuses on

accommodating input from all participants and complying

two main aspects: the pedagogy-based decision-making

with institutional requirements.

and the strategy-based decision-making. By the former we mean decisions that are made primarily on pedagogic

The context of change

grounds: improved student learning, retention, course satisfaction, curriculum development, course coherence

As one of a small number of generalist undergraduate

and so on. By the latter we mean decisions that are based

degrees at the University of Melbourne, the Bachelor

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Blurred boundaries Andrys Onsman & Clare Newton

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of Environments has ten majors which bring together

and departments and bring a coherent perspective.

disciplines that deal with the built, natural, social and

This approach, it was envisaged, would allow a broad-

virtual environments in professions such as architecture,

based collaborative process to yield practical results in

civil systems, construction, environmental engineering

a relatively short time. Participants would not only bring

systems,

environmental

their personal expertise to bear, they would also present

science, surveying, landscape architecture, landscape

the collected expertise from each school, department

management, property and urban design and planning.

and faculty.

environmental

geography,

It is unusual in that it is taught by staff from disparate

The success of the strategy depends on consensus

faculties. Four faculties were involved, reducing recently

being reached. To that end, the discipline experts invited

to three faculties with the amalgamation of two. The

to contribute to process were the academic leaders

structural, economic and political divisions between

of each of the disciplinary majors represented in the

these faculties have in the past tended to influence

degree. For some discipline leaders this was their first

change processes, particularly as the custodial dean for

detailed insight into the undergraduate degree because

the Bachelor of Environments is not empowered to make

more often than not they had a stronger teaching and

decisions that impact on the teaching staff and budgets of

learning presence at master’s level rather than in the

other contributing faculties.

undergraduate degree. While on the one hand that meant

In broad terms there were two aspects to be considered.

that they were not always entirely sure about the degree’s

First, three existing common core subjects were to be

curriculum and purpose; on the other hand it meant that

replaced by one alongside other modifications in response

course conceptions were not limited to the undergraduate

to student feedback. Second, the University has various

degree. By working primarily with academics not

processes in place to ensure that any major course change

personally focussed on teaching in the current degree it

meets quality assurance requirements. Further, there was a

was possible to think more strategically about the future.

limited timeframe in which to achieve structural changes

The on-going nature of institutional change in higher

to the course. Predicted propellants and retardants that

education makes it difficult to discern a procedural starting

had an impact on the process of engendering consensus

point, particularly when change is driven by exogenous

included institutional factors, procedural factors and

events as well as by endogenous processes (North, 1993).

pedagogical factors. In terms of University processes and

There is a case to be made that the process started

procedures, new subjects and curricular structure need

when the University decided to adopt the ‘Melbourne

to be approved, sanctioned and ratified at various levels.

Model’ that included a Bachelor of Environments with

A further time constraint is the date of publication of

compulsory common core subjects. For the purposes

degree guides. Proposed changes, after consensus has

of the current analysis we focus on the consultative

been reached by the faculties, can be held up at each of

process that occurred when the disciplinary leaders of

the three committees involved. If progress of a proposed

the built environment majors of the degree were formally

change is delayed for long enough, i.e., until after the due

invited to respond to the recommendations within a

date for Handbook entries, the change cannot in theory

2013 university led review into the degree including the

go ahead. Most strategies to effect fundamental change

development of a new single compulsory common core

aim to mitigate the impact of retardants by maximising

subject instead of three extant compulsory common core

the impact of propellants (Onsman & Barker, 2003). To

subjects. More directly, participants were asked to provide

that end, the approach adopted in this instance was to

expertise and subsequently to discuss the suggestions in

obtain expertise from participants; emphasise areas of

small, discipline based groups, with results disseminated

agreement; and iteratively refer those propositions back

for further refinement.The invitation deliberately avoided

to the participants with the aim of reducing extremes

any suggestion that the change over to a single subject

and reaching a workable consensus on how the proposed

was negotiable. Instead the endpoint of the process as

change can be enacted in a spirit of cooperation.

well as the reasons for the change and the iterative aspect

The expert participants

of the process were clearly articulated: to devise a single compulsory common core subject that articulated the

A key decision in the process was to seek the expertise of

purpose of the degree, introduced the elemental skills

academic leaders from each discipline before assembling

that could be further refined in any of the majors, and

at plenary meetings, under the assumption that they

supported students in gaining an accurate understanding

would engage in dialogues within their specific schools

of what each of the majors entailed in order to make

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an informed choice about study pathways. This was

Discipline boundaries are made manifest within the

considered an essential aspect of the articulation – the

physical, political and economic structures of universities,

multi-disciplinary nature of the undergraduate degree.

which traditionally are institutions that cluster knowledge, academics and budgets into faculties (Rich, 2013). But

Multi-disciplinarity within a university context: the Melbourne Model

the resistance to research and teaching across discipline boundaries has traction within academia that cannot be solely explained by faculty-based structures. Discipline

The emergence of multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and

expertise, underpinning our understanding of knowledge

transdisciplinary undergraduate degrees,while not a recent

from early in the nineteenth century, assumes that it is

phenomenon per se, has become more evident over the

self-regulatory in terms of development and verification.

last decade or two.The generally accepted understanding

This assumption has facilitated an ensconced demarcation

of a multidisciplinary curriculum is one that presents the

of fields of knowledge: the so-called silos of disciplinary

disparate approaches to a topic of a number of disciplines

knowledge.

with the aim of students gaining multiple perspectives.

According to Weingart, ‘the essence of discipline

An interdisciplinary curriculum aims for students to

formation and evolution is self-referential communication’

integrate knowledge, skills and attitudes from multiple

(2010, p. 8). Each discipline develops tools and language

disciplines around a specific question, topic, problem or

for researching and representing knowledge that tend

idea. A transdisciplinary curriculum aims to have students

to restrict effective communication across discipline

create capacity to transcend or disrupt the boundaries of

boundaries. Universities generally remain places where

disciplinary knowledge: ‘Transdisciplinarity … involves

disciplinary knowledge is highly valued and rewarded.

a comprehensive framework that organises knowledge

Bolitho and McDonnell (2010) in their study on

in a new way and is based on cooperation among

interdisciplinarity reported that interviewees spoke of the

various sectors of society and multiple stakeholders to address complex issues around a new discourse’ (Aneas, 2014, p. 4). The main reason why there

is

an

overarching pre-eminence of

A transdisciplinary curriculum aims to have students create capacity to transcend or disrupt the boundaries of disciplinary knowledge...

increased

demand for profession-tied degrees that move beyond the traditional disciplinary fields is the growing realisation that disciplinary knowledge has become unnaturally endogenous. As a

their own disciplines.

All researchers referred repeatedly to issues with the University’s faculty structure and excellence-based rationale, and all highlighted that the problem of publishing is acute. The pressure of the ERA [Excellence in Research for Australia] is unremitting and interdisciplinary work tends not to be associated with the highest impact journals (Bolitho & McDonnell, 2010, p. 5).

result of disciplines setting their own boundaries on whatever pool of knowledge they claim expertise over,

Newton (2010) argues that interdisciplinary research

they are now increasingly corralled by the boundaries

is hampered, not just by faculty structures resulting in,

they have set (van Assche, 2003). As Einstein is reputed

difficult to negotiate, social, political and financial divisions,

to have said, the problems of the world cannot be

but also by epistemological gaps. Conversations across

solved by the same mind-set that created them. The

discipline boundaries can be sites of confusion, blind

latter is particularly relevant to the disciplines that have

spots and misinterpretation with embedded assumptions

relevance to the study of the environment (Henderson,

and knowledge getting in the way of communication

2012), some of which are those attempting to create

(Wagner, 1993).

interdisciplinary curricula: architecture (Comninos et al.,

There is, however, an increasing acceptance that

2010), engineering (Olson, 2013; Tryggvason & Apelian,

complex problems require transdisciplinary solutions

2011) and surveying (Levin et al., 2010). In the main

and professional practice within the built and natural

however, discipline academics are reluctant to devolve

environments recognises the limitations of ‘siloed’

professional authority, a stance that is problematic given

professional knowledge. Addressing issues such as

transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary curricula require

global warming, urbanisation, accommodating ageing

an acceptance that any of the participants’ disciplinary

populations and poverty and starvation due to land

authority might be contested.

degradation

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

requires

transdisciplinary

collaboration.

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Even smaller projects within the built environment

systems,

engineering

normally require a complex negotiation between multiple

systems, environmental geographies, politics and culture,

professionals in order to be turned from a design idea

environmental science, geomatics, landscape architecture,

into a built reality (Buchanan, 1992). To that end, the last

landscape management, property and urban design and

decade or so has seen an increase in what might broadly

planning were gathered into a single program. One way

be called transdisciplinary degrees. While there remains

in which the disparate disciplinary majors of the degree

a good deal of contestation about the efficacy of such

were to be made into a coherent and cohesive whole was

degrees amongst both employers (Shellenbarges, 2010)

to start with compulsory common core subjects, in which

and academics (Berndtson, 2013), there is an apparent

the philosophy and intent of the degree would be made

zeitgeist particularly in courses that deal with the natural,

clear to students.

shaped and built environments (Winner & Champion,

According to the Bachelor of Environments Report

2012; Tress, van der Valk & Fry, 2003) which sees

of First Year Working Group (2006), the first year of

transdisciplinary collaboration as increasingly inevitable.

the Bachelor of Environments was initially conceived as

Reflecting the circumjacent society, the University of

having two compulsory common core ‘Environments’

Melbourne was the first in Australia to restructure its

subjects: Natural and Reshaping, and four electives

undergraduate degree programs as a small number of

chosen from mapping, constructing, designing, governing

generalist degrees, each of which could lead to a range

and urban. To complete the first year of the degree, the

of postgraduate programs. Marketed by the University as

remaining two subjects of the eight taken by first year

the ‘Next Generation’ degree structure, it is more widely

students were to be ‘breadth’ subjects, i.e., subjects from

known as the ‘Melbourne Model’ (Devlin, 2008; Devlin

other degrees. In essence this structure precluded majors

& Davies, 2007). From 2012, the University of Western

from introducing disciplinary knowledge until second

Australia likewise also transformed its degree structures.

year, ensuring common breadth among all students.

The University of Melbourne’s original restructuring

The degree began in 2008 with basically this structure.

proposal had only two undergraduate degrees – Arts

As is usual, the course was subject to on-going quality

and Science – but by the time the new structure was

assurance and review processes.

implemented in 2008 that number had, for pragmatic reasons, more than doubled. Nonetheless it was a radical shift: nearly one hundred undergraduate degrees were

The course review process

compressed into five: arts, biomedicine, commerce,

Review 1

environments, and science with four further specialist

The Bachelor of Environments was reviewed in 2009,

degrees remaining: agriculture, fine arts, music and

with a focus on the first year of the degree. The review

oral health. Of relevance to the process of curricular

was led by three academics representing three of the four

development is that the model anticipated the main

faculties teaching into the degree. It noted a perception

undergraduate degrees would be broad-based and

amongst students, and academics teaching the later years,

interdisciplinary, designed to produce well-rounded

that first year subjects were largely irrelevant to their

graduates capable of both employment and further study.

majors, which seemed to indicate that students were

The Bachelor of Environments

primarily concerned with their chosen major without understanding that the degree’s breadth was intended

The Bachelor of Environments made the largest break

to provide them with cognate skills and knowledge that

with the traditional degree structure. While arts, science,

complemented their major.

commerce and even biomedicine are familiar entities to

According to the Report

of

the

Bachelor

of

potential students, the Bachelor of Environments was an

Environments Report of First Year (2009), the panel

unusual grouping of disciplines from a seemingly disparate

recommended, among other things, that:

range of faculties, which may go some way to explaining

1. The first year of the degree should consist of one

why both anecdotal and survey evidence suggest that it

core subject, five electives and two breadth subjects.

was the least clearly understood of the undergraduate

2. Reshaping Environments should be developed as the

degrees. Often confused with environmentalism rather

sole core subject of the degree. It should be taught

than the natural, the shaped and the built environments,

only (or primarily, depending on mid-year entries and

there appeared to be a need to clearly articulate how

repeats) in the first semester to capture the majority

and why its disciplinary majors of architecture, civil

of students as they arrive at the university (p. 8).

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These recommendations were not enacted, and the

already electing to take Urban Environments. According

program continued unchanged with two compulsory

to student feedback the change did little to overcome the

common cores. That no changes were made at this time

persistent perceptions that the degree lacked cohesion;

may seem surprising given the extent of feedback from

that first year was fundamentally irrelevant to second and

the many stakeholders involved. Changes which have

third years and that the common cores did not adequately

financial and pedagogical implications are difficult to

prepare students for progress in the degree, regardless of

negotiate through consensus and, at that time, it was

which major they chose.

decided keep the degree unchanged.

Review 3

Review 2

A third review of the degree was conducted in 2013

The degree was internally reviewed for a second time in

(Bachelor of Environments Course Review Report,

2011. Reflecting on three years of operation, the report

2013) as part of a normal cycle of university-led review

noted that the degree had seen a 45 per cent growth

of undergraduate degrees. Rather than again being

in student numbers since its inception, attracting both

conducted by staff from within the faculties involved,

local and international students. It noted that nearly half

the review was instigated by the University’s Provost and

of enrolled students had nominated architecture as their

chaired by a deputy vice-chancellor. In brief, the report

preferred major. It again noted a perception amongst

again recognised the difficulties and recommended the

students that first year subjects were irrelevant to second

development and articulation of a shared and cohesive

and third year study. Significantly, the report also again

vision for the degree; that the number of majors be

noted that no discernible cohesion among the first year

reduced, and more by implication than decree, that the

subjects had been achieved.

number of compulsory subjects be reduced.

The Bachelor of Environments Curriculum Review

The response to this review was significantly different

Preliminary Report (October 2011) suggested that the

from that to the previous two. With it effectively

two compulsory common core subjects be amalgamated

confirming the findings of the first two internal reviews,

into one called Into Environments which was to be ‘an

the Provost proactively encouraged the participants to

impressive and highly stimulating portal subject to the

overcome the stumbling blocks that were hindering

degree’ to be ‘taught by authoritative, leading academics

changes and to that end proposed a development

in relevant disciplines’ and ‘highly relevant, topical and

structure of two parallel ‘discussions’, one dealing with

sufficiently exciting to be a “must-do” subject’ (p. 19). The

the natural environment and the other dealing with the

reason for proposing a single compulsory common core

built environments: the Dean of Science was invited to

subject was that the ‘panel could not identify a subject

lead the natural environment review and the Dean of

that introduces the degree program to articulate the

Architecture, Building and Planning to lead the built

interdisciplinarity of all the first year subjects and their

environment review with Engineering involved in both

relationships to the subsequent majors’ (p. 19). However,

discussions.The intention was to merge the discussions at

by the time the Bachelor of Environments Curriculum

a later stage.Although the Provost, Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Review Final Report was presented in November 2011, the

(Academic) and custodial Dean were in agreement that

recommendation for a single core subject was removed,

changes were needed to improve the student experience

as a result of pressure from academic entities that stood

of the Bachelor of Environments, this divided structure

to lose substantial intellectual and financial involvement

was adopted for strategic reasons to enable the Faculty

in the degree if their input into the first year program was

of Science to focus on finding solutions to increase

reduced. Instead the Final Report unexpectedly proposed

the number of students selecting physical sciences in

adding the new subject Into Environments as a third

preference to the biological sciences. As degrees have

compulsory common core subject to be taught alongside

no quotas for their majors, science students have been

Reshaping and Natural Environments.

tending to select majors that lead to medical professions.

Further over-riding the initial recommendations, the

In essence all three reviews highlighted areas for

proposed new subject, to be called Into Environments,

improvement particularly around clarity of purpose.

was rejected in favour of an existing subject, Urban

One further administrative factor needs to be identified

Environments, which became the third compulsory

before an analysis of the change process can be accurately

common core subject in 2013. This was a logistically easy

presented. By the middle of second year students have

change to accommodate as 80 per cent of students were

chosen one of ten majors. There are no quotas so students

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are free to choose whichever major they prefer offered

a preparatory stage during which the need for change

by three faculties – the Faculty of Architecture Building

is articulated, support for change is mobilised and

and Planning, the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty

leadership functions in the change process are assigned.

of Science. Based on 2012 figures, 10 per cent elected the

The second stage, ‘Implementation’, presents the change

three majors currently led by Science and nearly 14 per

to the environment, seeking in situ support, gathering

cent selected Engineering majors.Three quarters selected

resources and suggesting restructured workflows. In the

majors offered by Architecture, Building and Planning

third stage, ‘Institutionalisation’, the change is normalised

(Architecture 45 per cent; Property 12 per cent, Urban

and integrated into the value system and culture of the

Design and Planning 8 per cent). This is not surprising

organisation.

given students can choose pathways into the engineering

As outlined above, during the mobilisation stage the

and science majors through other degrees whereas the

need for change was articulated in the context of the

five majors offered by Architecture, Building and Planning

reviews and student commentary; leadership functions

can only be taken in the Bachelor of Environments.

were assigned and support was garnered. However,

What is perhaps surprising is that Architecture,

agreement on the nature of the change was not reached.

Building and Planning academics were responsible for

The draft Project Plan for the Implementation of the

less than 10 per cent of the original two core subjects

2013 Bachelor of Environments Review (Huppatz,

increasing to 25 per cent when three first year subjects

2014) included amongst its goals ‘reducing the number

became core. This imbalance partially explains student

of core subjects’, (Huppatz, 2014; p. 1). More specifically,

concerns regarding first year. In plain terms, when the

another internal document, B.Envs Curriculum review

Bachelor of Environments was instigated, academics from

– Discussion Paper, produced by the Bachelor of

the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning were

Environments Reference Group recommended the

generally uninterested in taking up the coordination of

introduction of ‘one foundation subject that all students

first year core subjects. As a result, the core subjects have

undertake in their first semester instead of three required

been primarily taught by staff from those of the degree’s

subjects across the first year’ (Recommendation 4a). It

discipline majors that attract fewest students. In 2013, staff

described the subject in some detail:

from disciplines that collectively accounted for around 10 per cent of the elected majors taught 65 per cent of the three required first year cohort. With over 2,000 students in the degree, the funding flows from student loads are substantial and any disturbance to the status quo is likely to lead to a significant reduction in income for some

Students in the degree would undertake one 12.5 point compulsory foundation subject in the first semester. In addition to interdisciplinary academic content, the foundation subject will contain material relating to academic skills that will assist students in the transition from high school to university. (B.Envs Discussion Paper, p. 3)

faculties and an increase for others. In summary, the changes recommended by the

The reasoning for the change is primarily pedagogy-

University were based on pedagogic grounds, but could

based, both internal to the subject and in terms of the

only be made manifest with significant impact to income

subject contributing to the whole degree. To make that

distribution between faculties. The decision to separate

clear, the paper goes on to state that the ‘change to one

the change process into a built environment stream and a

foundation subject will free up elective options of the

natural environment stream helped (whether intentionally

students’ (p. 4) and argues that the consequent room in

or accidentally) to ensure discussions continued to focus

the first year of the degree would allow more disciplinary

on curriculum and learning until an appropriate level of

major input. The suggestion aims to address student

cohesion and clarity was reached.

feedback that indicated a perceived lack of academic relevance of the first year.

Process and analysis

The paper follows the Built Environment stream of the process, which comprised subjects delivered by the

Institutional change is generally considered to occur

Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning and the

in stages (Kezar & Eckel, 2002; Prochaska et al., 2001;

Faculty of Engineering. In the first stage of the process,

Prochaska, 2000). While there is ongoing disagreement

disciplinary experts and stakeholders involved in the

about the exact number involved, at least three stages are

degree were consulted.Their opinions were amalgamated

discernible in the process (Kezar & Lester, 2009; Kezar &

into a discussion paper which was then debated and

Elrod, 2012).The first stage,‘Mobilisation’, is fundamentally

refined over a series of Steering Group meetings attended

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by disciplinary leaders for each major.These meetings were

the decision to split the process into two streams allowed

designed to canvas opinion, amalgamate expertise and

two conflicting resolutions to develop, which ultimately

consolidate a purposeful progression to the manifestation

were only reconciled through compromise at the decanal

of the agreed change. The evolving contributions

level of administration.

were documented and discussed at the meetings, and

As noted by de la Harpe & Thomas (2009), securing

consequent resolutions brought back to departments

fundamental

and schools, to be endorsed at subsequent meetings.

approaches and pedagogical beliefs is a very challenging

change

In general terms, this is in Prochaska’s terminology the

process because it relies heavily on participating

Implementation stage. Meeting item the

5a

1/14 records

that to

‘introduce one foundation that

all

diverse

disciplinary

academics being willing and notes

recommendation

subject

across

students

will undertake in their first

The universal self-conceptualisation of the participants as professionals and disciplinary leaders rather than educators is understandable, and perhaps justifiable, ... as well as disconcerting ...

able to do the work required in the context of their disciplines. Often the focus is placed on strategic change rather

than

pedagogic

change

(Blackmore

semester instead of three

Kandiko,

2012),

required subjects across a

observed

in

as

the

& was

current

year’ was endorsed. Further definition of the subject was

process. Trowler (1998) argues that curriculum change is

also suggested:

inevitably value-laden and in the case of interdisciplinary

… the core first year subject might use the city of Melbourne as a case study in order to introduce students to the big issues within our built, social, natural and virtual environments. The subject would help students understand the nature of each of the majors and how disciplines collaborate within industry. The subject would also introduce students to academic life and study.

curriculum change, the process is likely to be, in Ball’s (2003) terminology, ‘ontologically’ challenging. Hence it is extremely important to the process that participants understand and communicate the rationale for it (James & McPhee, 2012; Sykes et al., 2012).

Discussion

The notes were ratified as an accurate record at Meeting 2/14. The notes from the second meeting record the

It was noticeable that most if not all participants used

Engineering Working Group questioning the timetable

their discipline’s practical and theoretical knowledge

for the change; challenging the directive from the Provost

as primary references. Architects referred to the

that the change be implemented in time for the next

profession of architecture, engineers to the profession

academic year.

of engineering and so on. Until prompted, and often not

Meeting 3/14 notes record that the only item

even then, participants did not refer to the disciplinary

concerning the introduction of a single common core

knowledge of the profession of teaching. Yet each one of

foundation subject, tentatively titled Making Melbourne,

the participants was in terms of a profession, primarily

was that teaching into it will need to be ‘negotiated across

a teaching academic rather than an architect, engineer

the faculties perhaps in rough proportion to majors. For

or planner. The universal self-conceptualisation of the

example, teaching income and input might be split 20 per

participants as professionals and disciplinary leaders

cent Science (two majors), 60 per cent APB [Architecture,

rather than educators is understandable, and perhaps

Building and Planning] (five majors) and 20 per cent

justifiable, as most see their role as preparing their

MSE [Melbourne School of Engineering] (two majors)’

students for work after study, as well as disconcerting in

assuming the number of majors would drop from ten

that less consideration was initially given to the role of the

to nine. That such level of detail is recorded without

proposed new subject in the process of learning.

contestation indicates that both parties – Architecture,

In

the

higher

education

sector,

professional

Building and Planning and Engineering – had reached

identification with a discipline other than Education can

agreement that the change to one foundation subject

lead to barriers in adopting a collaborative approach

would go ahead.

to change (Clark, 2011). Rather than considering the

The approach to managing the change process seemed

pedagogic benefit of the proposed change, academics

to have been proven effective and efficient for this

tend to focus on potential benefit and detriment to

particular sub-process of the broader process. However,

their

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

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disciplines, faculties, departments

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or themselves (Amey & Brown, 2004; Clark, 2004). Nonetheless, the amount and depth of resistance was greater than was expected, and to some degree the resolution of a number of contentious issues was achieved by way of direct intervention by the University’s top level of administration, specifically the Provost and the Dean of the custodial faculty, rather than through the consultation process having reached consensus. Three broad factors were identified. First, participants tended to see the proposed change as ‘territorial’, with a distinct possibility of loss. Second, participants referred to their fields of study/practice rather than pedagogy for argumentation.Third, reasoning based on pedagogy, both in terms of principles and research, was observed only after specific prompting. Pedagogically the indecision reflects uncertainty about what the purpose of core is. Institutional records indicate a variety of conceptualisations of what compulsory common core subjects ought to achieve, ranging from remediating an assumed lack of capacity amongst commencing students to subverting an assumed dichotomy between natural and reshaped environments. At the heart of the uncertainty seems to be a lack of definition as to whether the transdisciplinarity championed by the degree is to be attained deductively or inductively. In summary, although the terms of reference for the change process were predominantly pedagogybased, the argumentation throughout the process was predominantly politically orientated. The decision to fragment and iteratively seek more nuanced input in order to reach consensus among the Built Environment discipline leaders was demonstrably successful even if that consensus subsequently proved to be at odds with the recommendations reached by discipline leaders within the Natural Environments. Consequently, the final resolution between both streams was resolved at Provost level in consultation with the participating Deans. Andrys Onsman is the Learning and Teaching Advisor, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne, Australia. Clare Newton is the immediate past Director, Bachelor of Environments, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne, Australia.

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van Assche, K. (2003). Understanding the nature of disciplinary boundaries as a reason for success in interdisciplinary research, in G. Tress, A. van der Valk, & G. Fry. Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary landscape studies: potential and limitations. Delta Program, Alterra Green World Research, Landscape Centre.

Olson, S. (Ed.). (2013). Educating Engineers: Preparing 21st Century Leaders in the Context of New Modes of Learning: Summary of a Forum. National Academies Press. Onsman, H., & Barker, C. (2003). The uncertain art of management. McGrawHill, Australian Institute of Management. Prochaska, J. (2000). A transtheoretical model for assessing organizational change. Families in Society, 81, 76–84. Prochaska, J., Prochaska, J., & Levesque, D. (2001). A transtheoretical approach to changing organizations. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 28, 247–261. Rich, D. (2013). The changing political economy of higher education: public investments and university strategies. Journal of Public Administration, 48(3), 429-454.

Wagner, J. (1993). Ignorance in educational research or, how can you not know that? Educational Researcher, 22(5), 15–23. Wiengart, P. (2010). A short history of knowledge formations. In R. Frodeman, (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity, Oxford University Press. Winner W. & Champion, E. (2012). Embedding Environmental Academic Programs in Higher Education: Rebuilding Environmental Sciences at North Carolina State University, Sustainability: The Journal of Record, 6(6), 327–332. Internal University of Melbourne Reports: Bachelor of Environments Report of First Year Working Group, 2006. Bachelor of Environments Curriculum Review Preliminary Report, October 2011.

Shellenbarges, S. (2010) ‘Can’t pick a college major? create one’, The Wall Street Journal, 17 November.

Bachelor of Environments Curriculum Review Final Report, November 2011.

Sykes, C., Freeman, M., Simpson, L., & Hancock, P. (2012). Improving learning and teaching through a multi-institutional, discipline-specific project. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 32(2), 173–184.

Bachelor of Environments Curriculum Review of the Built Environments Majors, 2014).

Tress, G., van der Valk, A., & Fry, G. (2003). Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary landscape studies: potential and limitations. Delta Program, Alterra Green World Research, Landscape Centre. Trowler, P. (1998). Academics responding to change: New higher education frameworks and academic cultures. Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.

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Bachelor of Environments Curriculum Review, 2013.

Bachelor of Environments reference Group Meeting Notes, 2014. University of Melbourne, Course Experience Questionnaire results, 2014. University of Melbourne, Student Evaluations, Semester 2, 2014.

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Ghosts in the machine Incarcerated students and the Digital University Susan Hopkins University of Southern Queensland

Providing higher education to offenders in custody has become an increasingly complex business in the age of digital learning. Most Australian prisoners still have no direct access to the internet and relatively unreliable access to information technology. As incarceration is now a business, prisons, like universities, are increasingly subject to economistic pressures and priorities. Historically Britain’s penal colony, (post)modern Australia is following the United States toward a post-Welfare Penal state. Without specialised support and materials, incarcerated students may pay the price of converging neoliberal reforms. This paper aims to raise awareness among Australian academics of the challenges faced by incarcerated students in changing socio-political and economic climates. Keywords: incarcerated students, prison education, penal state

Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage. Richard Lovelace (1642)

generally not conducive to the successful completion of higher education programs. Behind prison walls, students are particularly vulnerable to the economic, technical and political rationality of neo-liberalism, which promotes

Stone walls, iron bars and hardware

the digitisation of mass education, the vocationalisation of higher education, the shift to a post-Welfare punitive

While stone walls and iron bars do not a post-Fordist

state, higher levels of social inequality and the populist

prison make, incarcerated students remain disadvantaged

dehumanisation of outsider groups.

by their imposed isolation from networked digital

In particular, this paper discusses the obstacles and

communication technologies. The majority of Australian

constraints faced by incarcerated university students in

prisoners have no direct access to the internet which

light of the increasing integration of electronic learning

not only frustrates their access to higher education but

or eLearning in Australian higher education. The data

leaves them inadequately prepared for re-entry to the

and motivation for this paper derives from teaching

twenty first century information society and economy.

incarcerated tertiary preparation students, both at

Previously, prisoners undertaking university study could

a distance and face to face. The aim of this paper is to

rely on hard copy, paper course materials which were

raise awareness among academics regarding the multiple

printed and posted out by distance education providers.

barriers and practices that adversely affect prisoners

However, with the ascendency of eLearning, tertiary

who choose to study and to offer suggestions on how to

study has moved online and increasingly out of reach of

better support incarcerated students. On another level,

prisoners who do not have reliable access to networked

this discussion also highlights the limitations of official

computers. In many cases, the digital revolution has

discourses of ‘access’ against the landscape of neoliberal

exacerbated the marginalisation of incarcerated students.

reform in both prisons and universities. The increasingly

Despite public misconceptions about ‘doing time,’

precarious position of incarcerated students reflects the

the management of time and technology in a prison is

contradictions and complexities of ‘democratised’ and

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digitised higher education within a political climate of

66 per cent of prisoners have been imprisoned previously

economic rationalism and prison privatisation.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014; Smith 2014). Could improved access be a factor in recidivism?

Ghosts inside the digital learning machine

If they have access to an education officer (not all incarcerated students do) Australian prisoners must put

Incarcerated learners are in the main a doubly

in a request to have online educational materials printed

disadvantaged subgroup of low socioeconomic status,

for them (where this is permitted or possible). Mobile

isolated and marginalised students. In part this is because

phones, storage media and internet enabled tablets are

Australia’s use of incarceration reproduces and reinforces

typically barred from Australian prisons. While some

social and economic inequalities related to race and

universities provide distance education students with

social class. As Reiman & Leighton (2010) succinctly put

multi-media course resources on compact discs, not all

it, in their influential review of the American criminal

incarcerated students have access to a computer.Access to

justice system, ‘the rich get richer and the poor get

books and computer hardware may be difficult, especially

prison.’ With more than 10.2 million people held in penal

in “secure” or high security units, due to restrictions and

institutions throughout the world (ICPS, 2013) we are

limitations on movement, time, space and technology

moving toward what De Giorgi (2006) calls a new age

within the prison. Whereas Scandinavian countries

of ‘great confinement’ and its new forms of post-welfarist

employ a rehabilitative rather than punitive approach,

social regulation. The United States is leading the world

Australia seems to be following the American model of

in incarceration rates with 698 prisoners per 100,000

increased and interconnected incarceration, isolation

citizens (ICPS, 2013). As in the United States, Australia

and privatisation, with higher education increasingly

increasingly deploys mass incarceration as a way of

displaced by vocational training.

dealing with racial minorities and dangerous members of the working class and underclass, to the point where

Australia – the penal state

prison overcrowding is now another significant burden incarcerated university students must bear.

The Australian prison population has recently hit a ten

Australian prisoners are typically poor, uneducated

year high, with 33,791 people in adult corrective services

and unemployed at the time of incarceration (Australian

custody, and incarceration rates rising, especially for

Bureau of Statistics, 2014; Bedford, 2007; White &

women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Perrone, 1997; White & Graham, 2010; Vinson, 2004,

(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014). The national

2007; see also Reiman & Leighton, 2010) and are likely

imprisonment rate is now 185.6 prisoners per 100,000

to stay that way without adequate support for further

adult population – which is almost three times higher

education. Education is key to effective prisoner

than in Scandinavian countries (Australian Bureau of

rehabilitation and successful social reintegration (Audit

Statistics, 2014; International Centre for Prison Studies,

Office of New South Wales, 2006; Smith, 2014). Indeed,

2015). Incarceration rates are even higher in Queensland

given the potential for discrimination against those with

at 192.9 prisoners per 100,000 adult people – the

a criminal record in increasingly competitive labour

highest imprisonment rate since 2004. Over 90 per cent

markets, it is especially important that prisoners receive

of Australian prisoners are male, while Aboriginal and

fair and comparable access to higher education while

Torres Strait Islander people comprise over one quarter

incarcerated.

(9,264 or 27 per cent) of the total prisoner population

Unfortunately, prisoner access to technology and

(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014). The female

tertiary education varies greatly across the nation’s six

imprisonment rate has however more than doubled

states, two territories and over one hundred correctional

in recent years (Australian Institute of Family Studies,

centres. Unlike many Scandinavian countries, where

2015). The most common offence for which both men

internet access is provided for educational purposes,

(21 per cent) and women (20 per cent) were in custody

Australia does not provide prisoners with direct access

was acts intended to cause non-fatal injury or harm to

to the internet. In Norway, where students have better

another person, where there is no sexual or acquisitive

access to higher education and access to internet enabled

element (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014). Australian

computers in their cells, the recidivism rate is 20 per

governments are planning more prisons despite the

cent (Smith 2014). Recidivism rates are much higher in

fact it costs around A$174 a day to keep a prisoner

Australia at 59 per cent and in Queensland two-thirds or

behind bars (Audit Office of New South Wales, 2006)

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and there is actually little evidence that criminalising

and community support is a better long term solution to

more behaviours and increasing sentences actually deter

crime than building more prisons.

crime (Ritchie, 2011).

Here in Queensland, the news media is currently

Reflecting on the ‘carceral boom’ or ‘the great penal

accessing freedom of information legislation to identify

leap backward’ of the United States,Wacquant (2005) and

the number of ‘convicted killers’ located in (typically low

De Giorgi (2006) suggest there has been a wholesale shift

socio-economic) suburbs such as Ipswich and Logan.

from the welfare state to the penal state. Supposedly, the

Media and public agitation for longer sentences and less

object of this new post-Fordist penology is not actually

parole, both reflects and reproduces neoliberal punitive

crime prevention, but rather to manage risk by isolating

policy. It also supports the neoliberal agenda not just by

and incarcerating social groups perceived as inherently

discrediting the Welfare state, but by dehumanising those

dangerous, such as the poor, immigrants and people of

who depend upon it.

colour, through mass incarceration of the underclass and

Calls for getting tough on criminals often reach

mass detention of ‘illegal’ immigrants (De Giorgi, 2006;

fever pitch when particularly heinous and violent

Wacquant, 2005). Overcrowding in Queensland prisons,

crimes are reported in the media. In the interests

Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, including

of

children in detention, and the alarming fact that

through sensationalist and morbid crime reporting, the

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprise

mainstream media typically misrepresents the nature of

over one quarter of Australia’s prisoner population

crime and punishment. (See the recent American film

(Australian Bureau of Statistics ABS, 2014) lend some

Nightcrawler (Fox & Gilroy, 2014) for a popular culture

credence to this argument. This shift from the welfare

exploration of these themes). Moreover, conservative

state to the penal state has also been accompanied and

commentators, journalists and politicians who profit from

supported by the related shift from rehabilitation to

playing to public fears about crime, contribute to a moral

punishment implicit in public discourses around ‘getting

panic and dehumanising discourse around convicted

tough’ on crime and criminals.

criminals. When high profile perpetrators are transported

attracting

audiences

and

advertising

revenues

to maximum or high security prisons, Australia’s tabloid

Of ‘monsters’ and men: the dehumanisation of prisoners

news media is typically already there, with perverse morality tales about locking up ‘monsters’ and ‘throwing away the keys.’ Complex human beings, responding to

Australia’s current conservative federal government likes

difficult social and cultural contexts, are (mis)represented

to ‘talk tough’ about stopping boats, stopping crime and

in this discourse as inherently, irredeemably ‘evil’ deviants

stopping the ‘age of entitlement’. A common complaint

or delinquents.

in populist debate is that prisoners are actually being

Women in protection units in particular, are frequently

rewarded for crime with access to free meals, housing,

demonised in our society as both the perpetrators and

medication, electricity, exercise equipment and education.

victims of abuse, especially if they don’t fit easily with

Much of the media outcry is also premised on the belief

gender roles and stereotypes of submissive femininity. In

that prisoners access a better standard of living than

many cases however, their life ‘choices’ and chances are

their victims. Considering their victims may come from

driven by factors they cannot control and did not choose.

the same socio-economic underclass, currently facing

It is worth noting for example that characteristics of

further welfare reforms, sadly this may well be true in

female prisoners typically include histories of childhood

some cases. Nonetheless, there are significant benefits to

sexual abuse and re-victimisation as adult victims of

society as a whole in breaking the cycle of incarceration

sexual assault and domestic violence (Australian Institute

and disadvantage. Even from an economistic ‘burden to

of Family Studies, 2015). Even more than male prisoners,

the state’ perspective, the cost of continued incarceration

female prisoners suffer from poor mental health,

far outweighs the costs of higher education provision.

substance abuse issues and low educational attainment

Although both Liberal and Labor governments have

(Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2015).Of course

profited from aggressive law and order campaigns which

all citizens have some agency and individuals must be

cultivate the perception of being ‘tough on crime’, in

held accountable for their actions and (bad) decisions.

reality harsher sentencing actually does not work in

However, society must be accountable too, if offenders

terms of deterring crime (Ritchie, 2011). Putting money

emerge from prison even more isolated and marginalised

back into public education, public housing, social welfare

than when they went in.

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management systems (like Blackboard), web course tools, online social forums, electronic course evaluation surveys and online peer support networks. Prisoners’

As in the United States, incarceration is an expanding

relative invisibility extends to national educational equity

and increasingly privatised business in Australia. While

and access policy and discourse. As Bedford (2007, p.

the United States has the highest number of prisoners

126) pointed out in his study of Australian prisoners’

held in privately operated (corporate) prisons, Australia

educational disadvantage, ‘Prisoners, per se, have never

actually has the highest proportion of prisoners (19 per

been identified as an educationally disadvantaged group

cent) in privately operated prisons in the world (Mason,

in Australian national educational policy formulation or

2013). Australia’s first private prison was established in

implementation.’ Where prisoner education is mentioned

the state of Queensland in the 1990s and today 24 per

at national public policy level it is typically framed in

cent of Queensland prisons are

privately

operated

(Mason, 2013, p. 6). Victoria currently has the highest proportion of privatisation at 33 per cent, however this lead is likely to be overtaken by Queensland as

the economistic language

Prisons are historically secretive, isolated places and relatively little is known about the everyday experiences of our own incarcerated students in the context of these shifting tides of privatisation, and digitisation.

the Queensland Commission

of rebuilding wasted human capital,

often

through

vocational training. Prison education is at the sharp end of the neo-liberal trend toward

reinterpreting

all education as learning measurable practical skills

of Audit (cited in Alexander

for employment.

& Martin 2013, 32-33) recently recommended that, ‘the

Despite having experienced multiple and severe

management of all correctional facilities in Queensland’

social and economic disadvantages, individual Australian

should be opened to a ‘contestable market’ to ensure

prisoners are not eligible to access the same publicly

‘value for money.’ Australia-wide there are eight corporate

funded allowances available to members of other equity

or private prisons currently operating, managed by GEO

groups (Bedford, 2007). Although prisoners are paid for

Group Australia, Serco Australia, G4S, and GSL Custodial

their labour, it is not enough to cover the costs of studying

Services (Alexander & Martin 2013, 32).

for a degree. While privatised prisons in Australia support

This privatisation trend is linked to the global

self development and education in principle, in practice

ascendency of neoliberal ideology over the past twenty

there may be fundamental contradictions between

years and cutbacks to the public sector and state

utilitarian profit motives and the more humanistic goals

services generally. Prisons are historically secretive,

of higher education. Hence contemporary prisons, like

isolated places and relatively little is known about the

contemporary universities, are cloaked in contradictory

everyday experiences of our own incarcerated students

discourses and practice architectures. They speak

in the context of these shifting tides of privatisation,

the language of openness, access and educational

and digitisation. We do know that incarcerated students

opportunities within the limits of economic rationalism

are at risk of being left behind in the network society.

and neoliberal institutional practices.

Moreover, an increasing emphasis on vocational training

Australian

prisons

operate

in

accordance

with

has collided with the digitisation of tertiary courses to

international human rights conventions under legislation

further limit access to higher education for prisoners.

and principles which provide access to education as a

Certainly incarcerated students today face a unique set of

basic human right. In principle, both private and state run

challenges which need to be discussed further.

facilities value education as a cornerstone of successful social integration, rehabilitation and re-entry. In practice

Incarcerated students: Invisibility and exclusion

however, incarcerated students may not receive the time, space and technology necessary for equitable or comparable participation in higher education. Moreover,

Due to their imposed isolation and disconnection,

neoliberal and utilitarian approaches to education

incarcerated students are the virtually invisible and

typically frame higher education, in the humanities

silent tertiary population subgroup of the eLearning

especially, as a luxury rather than a realisation of human

age, unavoidably absent from emails, electronic learning

rights. The competing priorities of the (post)modern

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prison are perhaps most evident around access to higher

diverse learners, relatively few are aware of the extreme

education and access in opposition to security. While

and multiple barriers faced by incarcerated students.

correctional centres must attend to their core business

Ironically, most lecturers in law, psychology and

of maintaining order and control, these same security

criminology have not actually visited or even spoken

measures have undoubtedly made access to technology

to their incarcerated students and do not know them

enhanced learning within prisons complex and difficult.

as individuals negotiating a very complex and difficult

Like

other

Australian

students,

undergraduate

learning environment. University lecturers are often not

incarcerated students have access to the federal

fully aware that they have enrolled incarcerated students

government’s Higher Education Contribution Scheme

in their courses unless they are contacted by a corrective

(HECS) which allows them to defer the cost of their

services education officer (in those instances when the

higher education fees and pay later through the taxation

incarcerated student has some access to an education

system if and when their income reaches a threshold

officer to speak on their behalf). Incarcerated students do

level. Although this scheme allows low socio-economic

not fit easily into the ‘equity and access’ approaches of

background students to enter the university system

most tertiary student services. They are mostly male and

while incarcerated, it does not cover the prohibitive

suffer a form of social and cultural dislocation, although

costs of text books, printing or hiring a lap top from

not always from non-English speaking backgrounds.

the correctional centre. This means many incarcerated

Incarceration is not technically a disability, although

students from low socio-economic backgrounds who

many incarcerated students struggle with mental health

start an undergraduate course will find it difficult if not

issues. Unlike other remote distance education students,

impossible to complete without financial support from

incarcerated students without direct access to the internet

sympathetic family members. It also means they acquire

cannot participate in online support forums, electronic

a debt which they will eventually be required to pay back

orientations or electronic assignment submission. In the

if employed upon their release. Incarcerated students are

main, incarcerated students are invisible and silent in the

aware their study materials are not always comparable to

digital university – they are as ‘ghosts’ in the machine of

those available to students outside prison and are often

mass, post-secondary education.

frustrated by the lack of direct and instant email access

Of course, in the context of neo-liberalist reforms of

to lecturers and by broken links or blank spaces where

the tertiary sector, wherein the passion for individualised

internet links, YouTube videos and other multi-media

learning can be easily overtaken by demands to work

resources should be. They are also frequently frustrated

longer and harder across larger groups and multiple

by long delays in receiving university course materials,

forums, overworked teachers can hardly be blamed for

only to find these materials are not always appropriate or

overlooking their absent incarcerated students. Ryan

adaptable to an offline study environment. Lecturers may

(2012)

require wide reading and research skills without realising

academics, reeling from relentless performance pressures,

that accessing university library books and journal

to exhausted and overcommitted ‘zombies,’ sapped of

articles from a prison is often a difficult and lengthy

the energy for innovation and activism. While modern

process. Even the most highly motivated incarcerated

academics may be subject to ‘zombiefication’ (Ryan 2012)

students may find their education programs interrupted

from overwork and increased surveillance, it is nothing

from unpredictable lock downs and transfers between

compared to the neoliberal control technologies endured

centres. Along with many other burdens, prisoners will

by their incarcerated students.To extend the horror stories

carry a HECS debt, if they fail to complete and leave it too

further, prisoners have been labelled and stigmatised in the

late to withdraw from their undergraduate course. Still,

wider culture as society’s ‘monsters’ and this perception

many prisoners who start out determined and optimistic

undoubtedly makes it difficult for real incarcerated

often give up because studying undergraduate university

students to claim the unfamiliar and privileged identity

courses while incarcerated is increasingly difficult and

of university student, and all the benefits that go with it.

frustrating.

Moreover, incarcerated students are most vulnerable to

satirically

compares

conforming Australian

various technologies of control imposed by neo-liberal

A prison tour: The pains of imprisonment

policies and priorities. In a punitive, competitive postwelfare state, wherein economic participation requires

While most academics are familiar with tenets of

educational credentials and digital access, prisoners are

inclusive pedagogy and strive to meet the needs of

right to ask: who will be there for them?

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Undoubtedly creating alternative learning tasks and

the resources of their family. Incarcerated students are

assessments for disconnected incarcerated students

very often highly motivated, tenacious and adaptable

adds further to heavy academic workloads. The complex,

individuals, they have to be to get through a degree behind

slow and difficult business of teaching incarcerated

bars. Nonetheless, there are limits to how self-managing,

tertiary students also does not fit easily into most modern

mobile and entrepreneurial a student can be while

university business models. Within a mass, postsecondary

incarcerated by the state! Universities (and governments)

education machine, shaped by rationalisation and

need to step into the breach to close the gap for the most

monetarisation (Ryan, 2012), incarcerated students may

marginalised of students, the incarcerated, as they would

be seen to represent an expensive problem. It takes

for any other disadvantaged group.

time and money after all, to handle exceptions, develop

As most prisoners have not completed year 12

alternatives and provide appropriate specialised materials

secondary schooling, they tend to come to tertiary

and pathways.

study through tertiary preparation pathway (TPP) or

Part of the problem for incarcerated tertiary students

bridging courses offered by universities through distance

is that access and support varies greatly from prison

education.These TPP courses typically still supply printed

to prison, provider to provider and course to course.

materials along with embedded, holistic and specialised

Some incarcerated students have access to their own

support for incarcerated students. That is not always the

lap top, while others must book a session on a shared

case however when incarcerated students graduate to

PC in the library, at times when they have permission

undergraduate study. Again it can be down to ‘luck of the

to move between blocks. Although access to technology

draw’ and the choice of discipline as to how sensitive

is more often more limited in ‘protection’ and other

undergraduate lecturers are to the needs of inmate

high security units, it can be down to ‘luck of the draw’

students. Minimum standards of communication and

whether incarcerated students receive the advice

course materials should be consistently extended to the

and resources they need to complete their course,

teaching of all incarcerated students at all universities,

assuming they have chosen a course they can complete

with course coordinators fully aware of incarcerated

in prison in the first place. Courses that require field

students and informed of their particular needs. Educators

work, practicum or residential on campus attendance

who support incarcerated students must in turn be

cannot be successfully completed while incarcerated.

clearly and consistently supported, with time, resources

Similarly, students may not be permitted to undertake

and training. Providing alternative learning experiences

some Information Technology and Chemical Engineering

could, for example, entail providing course resources

courses due to the potential threat to prison security

on a CD/DVD to incarcerated students, although it also

and internet access issues. Incarcerated students tend

requires recognition that in some instances incarcerated

to gravitate toward business, arts, human services and

students in some units will not have reliable access to a

law. Due to professional registration requirements, such

computer at all and will still need hard copy study books

as criminal history checks, incarcerated students may

and printed texts. Where possible and where acceptable

be discouraged from undertaking some courses such

to the state correctional departments, universities should

as education and medicine. There is a fine line however

also support academic and support staff visiting and

between career advice which is realistic and that which is

tutoring their incarcerated students.

discriminatory, especially against a backdrop of increasing

At the moment and at the very least, university

vocationalisation wherein prisoners may be discouraged

teachers and course developers need to consider the

from undertaking higher education altogether and

needs of incarcerated students, who are mostly still

directed instead toward more ‘realistic’ trade certificates.

offline, when choosing digital sources, digital texts and

The limited and ad hoc support many incarcerated

digital methods. Incarcerated students also require more

students receive, from both prisons and universities,

flexible assessment due dates and institutional flexibility

would

perhaps

generally to allow for unanticipated and unpredictable

discriminatory if applied to other equity groups in other

disruptions to their study schedule, such as offender lock

educational contexts. In an information age, incarcerated

downs and transfers or turn-over of education centre staff.

students clearly need current, consistent and appropriate

Many incarcerated students cannot afford textbooks and

information and tailored pathways from universities.They

face long delays when ordering library books and course

cannot be left to their own limited and often uninformed

materials through the mail. Hence universities should

‘choices’ and thrown back upon their own resources, or

supply textbooks for popular courses to prison libraries

be

considered

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or at least hold adequate copies of required texts at their own libraries for the designated use of incarcerated

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Prisoners as people, clients as students, teachers as change agents

students. Even English dictionaries are in short supply at some centres and appreciated by incarcerated students.

Of course, it ought to be recognised that many university

Many incarcerated students in private prisons will

academics and operational support officers are currently

also be required to work designated hours in industry,

working hard to design and deliver a comparable

with limited time to study after hours. On top of this,

and equally accessible learning experience for their

incarcerated students commonly deal with drug and

incarcerated students in the new digital environment.

alcohol dependency issues, depression/anxiety and poor

Similarly, committed and dedicated education officers

physical or mental health which may require medication

around Australia are printing course materials, emailing

which makes it difficult for them to concentrate.

lecturers and facilitating access to higher education for

Of course these are obstacles, barriers and constraints

prisoners every working day. Progress has been made

which may also be experienced to some degree by low

in addressing the digital disconnection of incarcerated

socio-economic background students on the outside as

students. The problem is educators are at times losing

well. This leads to another issue incarcerated students

ground to the shifting tides of monetarisation, privatisation

face which is implicit discrimination and stigmatisation.

and vocationalisation in both prisons and universities.

University staff are not necessarily immune from the

Without adequate intervention and against a backdrop

widespread assumption that incarcerated students are

of neoliberal reform, the incarcerated student appears

somehow less deserving of scholarships, resources

as the captive ‘canary in the coalmine,’ indicative of the

and attention than other tertiary students. A common

unintended effects of wholesale digitisation. For better

misunderstanding is that prisoners, unlike other distance

or worse, the incarcerated student remains the antithesis

education students who must balance family, work and

of the neoliberal ideal of the constantly connected and

study commitments, have ‘all the time in the world’ to

mobile citizen.

study while sitting in their cells. In reality, many prisons

While course enrolment numbers look good on paper

are typically noisy, crowded and sometimes hostile

for the more progressive and image conscious post-Fordist

environments not conducive to study. Prisoners are also

prisons, and for the universities that supply them with

often subject to compulsory behaviour modification

courses, the real challenge is getting incarcerated students

training, transfer and court dates which can derail their

successfully through these courses by supporting their

tertiary study schedules and make it difficult to pick up

transitions through and beyond study. Encouraging

where they left off. In private prisons some incarcerated

vulnerable individuals to enrol and leaving them to

students may spend their days working in industry and

flounder without adequate resources is setting them up to

their evenings too tired, distracted or medicated to study

fail (again), doing more harm than good. Where a tertiary

effectively.

course is offered, course coordinators must work closely

A holistic and humane approach to tertiary teaching

with prison administrations to meet students’ educational

recognises that students are emotional beings who need

needs. Prisons are deliberately difficult places to penetrate

encouragement and support, not just technological

and it takes some understanding, knowledge, patience

access and basic skills. It is ideal if some of this support

and perseverance to negotiate the various restrictions and

can be provided face to face, person to person, in real

administrative procedures required of academics who

time. Incarcerated university students in particular often

wish to enter.Teachers should also expect finger printing,

struggle with pre-existing mental health issues (Australian

criminal history checks and x-ray surveillance before

Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012) and the added

visiting incarcerated students. However, universities

psychological distress that may arise from isolation

and academics must continue to build relationships

from family and community, overcrowding, bullying and

and partnerships with correctional centres and with

harmful influences from other prisoners. Moreover, if

individual correctional centre education officers, in order

‘the high rate of mental health disorders in prisoners may

to adequately support incarcerated students. Incarcerated

reflect, among other things, a lack of adequate diversion

tertiary students need reliable, consistent and current

options in the community’ (Australian Institute of Health

access to information and information technologies

and Welfare, 2012) it is likely this is another contributing

and universities have a key role to play in this process.

factor brought about by cuts to the welfare state.

In a (post)modern networked society even temporary disconnection from digital networks can lead to chronic

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social exclusion. Working around security constraints to educate prisoners is increasingly time consuming and expensive, but wasting their potential as students and citizens will be more expensive in the long run for society as a whole. Incarcerated students also need academics who are responsive, committed and empathetic teachers, willing to support all students fully, at a distance and, where possible, face to face. Despite the tyranny of distance, time and performance measures, it is important to remember that all students are more than bits on a screen, digitised grist for the institutional mill, or worse, ghosts in the machine. Like other stigmatised and marginalised individuals, incarcerated students ask first to be seen and to be seen as whole persons. As much, if not more, than any other underrepresented group, incarcerated students deserve the immeasurable benefits of higher education.

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References Alexander, M. & Martin, D. (2013). Queensland Prisons Report. Queensland, Australia: The Catholic Prison Ministry and Prisoners’ Legal Service Inc. Audit Office of New South Wales / New South Wales Auditor General. (2006). Prisoner Rehabilitation. Department of Corrective Services. Audit Office: New South Wales, Australia. Retrieved from, http://www.audit.nsw.gov.au/ ArticleDocuments/138/151_Prisoner_Rehabilitation.pdf.aspx?Embed=Y. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2014). Prisoners in Australia. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/PrimaryMainFeatures/4517.0?Ope nDocument. Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2015). Addressing Women’s Victimisation Histories in Custodial Settings. Retrieved from https://www3.aifs. gov.au/acssa/pubs/issue/i13/i13b.html. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2012. Mental health of prison entrants. Retrieved from http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx? id=10737422198&libID=10737422198. Bedford, T. (2007). Education and Incarceration: An Interpretive Study of Prisoners’ Narratives. (Doctoral dissertation, Faculty of Education, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia).

Structure vs agency

De Giorgi, A. (2006). Rethinking the Political Economy of Punishment: Perspectives on Post-Fordism and Penal Politics. Hampshire, UK: Ashgate, Hampshire.

It is important that public discourse around prisoners

Fox, J. (Producer), & Gilroy, D. (Director). (2014), Nightcrawler [Motion Picture]. USA: Bold Films.

is not driven by simplistic, sensationalist narratives of revenge. It is also important that the academic conversation around reducing recidivism is not hijacked by an economistic focus on ‘human capital.’While mastery of trade and technical skills is important, it may be more important in these uncertain economic times to provide skills in critical thinking and reflection on the social world.The first step in facilitating successful rehabilitation is recognising the ‘offender’ as a human being negotiating social, cultural and political contexts. Teaching in prisons can be a confronting but transformative

experience.

I

recall

for

example,

introducing a group of incarcerated students to the sociological concepts of structure and agency. Listening to these students talk through the relevance of these ideas in their own lives, I was reminded of the empowering potential of education. There are some things we cannot choose, like the dead weight of the past. But even in a prison, especially in a prison, there is still the potential for social change and self-determination. Susan Hopkins is a lecturer within the Open Access College of the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia, and teaches tertiary preparation students, including incarcerated students.

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International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS). (2013). World Prison Brief. Retrieved from http://www.prisonstudies.org. Mason, C. (2013). International Growth Trends in Prison Privatization, Washington, US: The Sentencing Project. Reiman, J. & Leighton, P. (2010). The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Ideology, Class and Criminal Justice, Boston, US: Allyn & Bacon. Ritchie, D. (2011). Does Imprisonment Deter? A Review of the Evidence, Sentencing Advisory Council, Melbourne, Victoria. Retrieved from https://www. sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/publication-documents/Does%20 Imprisonment%20Deter%20A%20Review%20of%20the%20Evidence.pdf. Ryan, S. (2012). Academic Zombies: A Failure of Resistance or a Means of Survival? Australian Universities’ Review, 54 (2), 3–11. Smith, M. (2014). Can Prisoners Receive Quality Education without Access to the Internet? Right Now: Human Rights in Australia. Retrieved from http:// rightnow.org.au/topics/education/can-prisoners-receive-quality-educationwithout-access-to-the-internet/. Vinson, T. (2004). Community Adversity and Resilience: The Distribution of Social Disadvantage in Victoria and News South Wales and the Mediating role of Social Cohesion, Richmond, Victoria: Jesuit Social Services. Vinson, T. (2007). Dropping off the Edge: The Distribution of Disadvantage in Australia, Richmond, Victoria: Catholic Social Services Australia and Jesuit Social Services. Wacquant, L. (2005). The Great Penal Leap Backward, in J. Pratt, D. Brown, M. Brown, S. Hallsworth and W. Morrison (Eds), The New Punitiveness: Trends, Theories and Perspectives, 3–27. Devon: Willan Publishing. White, R. & Perrone, S. (1997). Crime and Social Control. Victoria: Oxford University Press. White, R. & Graham, H. (2010). Working with Offenders: A guide to concepts and practices, New York: Willan Publishing.

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Is the university system in Australia producing deep thinkers? Warren W Lake & William E Boyd Southern Cross University

Teaching and learning research since the 1980s has established a trend in students’ learning approach tendencies, characterised by decreasing surface learning and increasing deep learning with increasing age. This is an important trend in higher education, especially at a time of increasing numbers of older students: are we graduating more deep learners? In revisiting these trends, our study elaborates on the past model by using the revised two-factor questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F). The current study suggests that trends in the shift between surface and deep learning approaches are more related to other factors rather than to age per se. Importantly, school leavers do not exhibit significantly weaker trends towards deep learning approaches than do mature-age students. Keywords: surface learning, deep learning, university teaching, mature-age students

Introduction

that for Australian post-secondary (university and college of advanced education) students, there was an age

University students, along with all members of the

relationship for both a declining propensity for surface

university community, have to respond increasingly to

learning and an increasing propensity towards deep

the changing nature of university life. Recent studies

learning. It was argued that older students are more likely

record, for example, increasing numbers of students

to learn concepts at university at a deeper level than

studying full time while working part time and studying

their younger counterparts. Gow and Kember (1990), for

off-campus and/or on-line (Allen & Seaman, 2010; Hall,

example, highlighted that older students are less likely

2010). Importantly, mature-age students, that is, those

to adopt a surface approach to learning and more likely

over the age of 25, represent approximately a quarter of

to implement a deep approach compared to younger

all university students in Australia (Chesters & Watson,

students. Such studies thus supported the idea that age

2013). In the new generation of universities, (such as

is an important factor in determining what approach

ours and other regional universities) mature-age students

a student will take towards their learning. It may be

account for around a half of all students. The effects of

argued, therefore, that with an ageing university student

these changes on how students learn are important, and

population, there is a sector-wide increase in deep

may be a significant factor when it comes to university

learning graduates.

participation by older students and the quality of graduates from universities.

Here we consider the implications of such a view, testing it against more recent data captured using the

Seminal studies from the mid-1980s and the 1990s

revised two-factor study process questionnaire, gained

(for example, the study by Biggs, 1987) demonstrated

from a student cohort with a broader age distribution

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than was available to researchers such as Biggs. As

and the university sectors (853 students), focussed on

universities become increasingly required to produce

students enrolled in arts, education and science courses.

work-ready graduates (Eraut, 1994; Orrell, 2004; Hughes

He reported that surface approach scores for both full-time

et al., 2013), it may be expected that, given the scholarly

and part-time students in both educational sectors dropped

nature of university education, part of that work

steadily from the age of eighteen to the mid-twenties, then

readiness should be the development of the ability for

stabilised until the age of thirty-nine years, after which the

deep thinking. Assuming a student’s preferred approach

scores dropped. In contrast, deep and achieving approaches

to learning is a reasonable predictor of their tendency

reach a minimum at age twenty-two, increasing in what

towards deep thinking, an examination of age-learning

Biggs calls a ‘strong linear fashion’ thereafter.

approach relationships and the patterns of graduation by

In a later Australian study, at the same university as the

age provides valuable insight into the potential habits of

current study (Southern Cross University – SCU), and

university graduates in Australia.

also using the Biggs’ SPQ, Regan (1996) confirmed Biggs’ findings. She identified a relationship of age and learning

1980s and 1990s – Biggs’ Study Process Questionnaire

approach, and highlighted the links between mature-age students and higher deep approach scores compared with younger students, and between lower surface

Here we examine the relationship between degree

learning approach mean scores for mature-age students

completions at Australian universities and data from

and higher scores for younger students. It should be noted

Biggs’ studies of student learning approaches using his

that, while charting the Biggs (1987) and Regan (1996)

Study Process Questionnaire (SPQ). This survey tool

data together might allow for a comparison of the data

was validated in the 1980s and 1990s, and has become

sets from Australian Universities, Biggs (1987) does not

a standard for such studies. The tool is predicated on

report adequate raw data to allow for such a comparison

identifying the degree to which a student adopts surface,

of age profile groups.

deep, or achieving learning approaches. Broadly speaking,

More recently, also working with Australian higher

a deep approach to learning involves the use of strategies

education students and also using Biggs’ SPQ, Zeegers

and the adoption of motives which are common to

(2001) supported the idea that the age of a student has

students who strive to understand concepts at a deep

a significant impact on scores recording their learning

level, and for a surface approach, strategies and motives

approaches. Zeegers reported that older students

that are common to students wishing to do only what is

commonly achieve a higher mean score on the deep

required to pass a course.An achieving approach involves

approach and a lower mean score on the surface approach

a student using and adopting strategies and motives

than do younger students, describing this situation thus:

that allow the student to obtain target grades and other

‘The division of students based on school-leaver status

rewards by estimating the learning effort required to

and participation in all the SPQ trials showed that student

achieve a particular grade.

age has a significant impact on SAL [student approaches

A question that is as relevant now as it was in the past

to learning], with older students generally displaying a

is whether mature-age graduates have a higher likelihood

higher deep approach and achieving approach and a

of completing their degree with a deeper approach

lower surface approach’ (Zeegers, 2001, p. 126). Zeegers

to learning than students who entered university

divided students into two age groups, recent school leavers

immediately or very shortly after completing school

and non-school leavers, noting that the latter cohort

education. This leads to another important question,

consistently achieved higher scores for the subscales that

that is, whether graduates are finishing university at a

measure the achieving strategy, the deep strategy and the

time when the surface approach to learning remains the

deep motivation.While Zeegers found that only one of the

dominant tendency. For universities, the answers to such

five trials in his study indicated a statistically significant

questions may influence curriculum and pedagogical

difference in terms of surface approach between the two

choices as efforts are made to improve learning outcomes

groups (despite mean scores being consistently higher),

for all students. In order to address such issues, it is worth

there was a statistically significant difference between

returning to Biggs’ original studies.

the two groups in all but one of the five trials for both

Biggs (1987) published a study based on completed

deep and achieving approaches, implying that the deep

SPQ returns from 2,365 students from both the (then)

learning approach has a tendency to change with age.This

College of Advanced Education sectors (1,512 students)

pattern, Zeegers argues, indicates that ‘older students are

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Table 1: Australia-wide Bachelors award completions, 2012 Age group

Number of completions

Age group

Number of completions

18

359

26

5,284

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7,355

27

3,888

20

25,236

28

3,125

21

36,007

29

2,449

22

29,881

30-39

11,755

23

20,288

40-49

5,343

24

11,679

50-59

1,759

25

7,448

60+

316

Biggs Surface Approach

Source: ABS, 2013.

more willing or able to commit themselves to the use of learning strategies which require a greater effort on their part … [and that] older students use more elaborate study approaches and are in general more committed to their study’ (pp. 126-127). The evidence for this, according to Zeegers, lies in older students scoring higher Grade Point Averages (GPA), completing more units of study, and achieving higher completion rates. To bring these findings into a contemporary context – that is, to consider how such patterns apply to contemporary cohorts of higher education students – the most recently available Australian Bureau of Statistics

Biggs Achieving Approach

university completions data (2012) provide a relevant indication of graduate completions in Australia (ABS, 2013; Table 1). Plotted against the patterns of age-related tendency towards surface or deep learning approaches are derived from Biggs’ data (Figure 1), the graduate numbers provide a telling picture of the tendency of graduates in terms of their learning preferences. This is worthy of discussion for both universities and employers.

Patterns of learning approach, student age and graduation age In learning terms, Biggs’ data show a reasonably notable

Biggs Deep Approach

drop-off in surface learning scores after the age of 20,a trend that is paralleled with a drop-off of achieving approach scores. The rise in deep learning scores with age is less evident. While this evidence implies an early persistence of achieving and surface approaches, the uptake of deeper learning approaches is slower. Importantly, even at present, with the growing proportion of mature-age students attending higher education, the peak of graduations occurs around the age of around 21-22. This is an age that corresponds with Biggs’ patterns of the onset of declining

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Figure 1. Measures of learning approach scores from Biggs (1987) (columns against SPQ scale) by age, against annual award completions (full line) derived from ABS data. The age groups used replicate the groups used in the ABS data, and thus the Biggs data for >23 year old were averaged for the age ranges 23-26, 27-39 and 40-60+.

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The older version of the SPQ tool uses three main subscales (Deep, Surface, and Achieving), whereas the new SPQ (2F-R-SPQ) has only two main scales (Deep and Surface). This is why the data sets arising from Biggs’, Regan’s, and our studies are not directly comparable, despite the comparability of the patterns identified in each study. Biggs et al. (2001), in his revision of the SPQ tool, states that ‘using

Figure 2. Age-frequency distribution of respondents to the 2013 Study Process Questionnaire survey

confirmatory factor analysis, the SPQ can most conveniently be described in terms of two factors:

surface and achieving approaches, and the start of a slight

deep and surface, with achieving motive and strategy

rise in deep learning approach. On the face of it, Biggs’ data

subscales aligning themselves on both factors’.

also imply that the greatest number of graduate degree

Our focus was to reinvestigate the link between age and

completions occurs at an age where deep approach is

the type of learning approach taken in light of the changes

on average lower than in older age groups where fewer

in student composition of universities since interest in

degree completions occur. Similarly the greatest number

learning approaches was at its peak in the 1980s-1990s.

of degree completions also occurs when surface approach

This new work contributes to the earlier studies in which

is higher compared to older age groups.

older students were suggested to be more likely to take

Does this mean that Australian universities are

a deep approach to learning. The relevance of this study

graduating a cohort of surface learners? Before accepting

stems from the fact that our university is typical of the

such a conclusion, it should be noted that Biggs’ student

newer generation of Australian universities, in that it has

cohort was dominated strongly by school leavers, i.e.

a higher than average proportion of mature-age students

the 18-year-olds to those in their early 20s, and that the

(approximately a half of all students) compared to the

patterns identified in that work are largely only relevant

many other major universities in Australia; the national

to this younger student cohort. Although we do not have

average is now around a quarter of enrolments. Our study

the exact numbers of students from each age group, Biggs

was undertaken at Southern Cross University, and involved

(1987, p. 93) does state that, ‘age effects are difficult to

a self-selecting group of students across the university

assess in view of the fact that samples of older students are

who completed an anonymous online survey, distributed

increasingly selective’. Biggs’ data do not have much to say

to all students at the university, on the Qualtrics platform.

about the behaviour of mature-age students. The research

Students responded from across the disciplines, and

was conducted before the time of growth in mature-age

included students from the Schools of Education, of

enrolment in Australian higher education. Furthermore,

Law & Justice, of Health & Human Science, of Business,

Biggs’ conclusions arose out of an approximately two to

of Arts & Social Science, of Tourism & Hospitality, and

one response rate from university and college of advanced

of Environment, Science & Engineering. The survey

education students. The degree to which Biggs’ data can

comprised 20 study process questions, based on Biggs’

now be applied to the contemporary Australian university

original survey, plus additional questions regarding age,

system needs to be tested.

gender and current GPA. The return of 560 students represents around five per cent of the targeted population,

Revisiting the model of age-related student learning approach

and compares favourably with Biggs’ 853-strong university student return. Importantly, the age-frequency values are more evenly distributed across the range from school

More recently (2013), we revisited this issue of age

leavers to mature-age students (see Figure 2).

relationship to learning approach using a revised version

Our data are presented in Figure 3 as SPQ scores versus

of Biggs’ original (1987) Study Process Questionnaire (i.e.

age group, plotted with the 2012 ABS graduate age data.

Biggs et al., 2001).

The pattern of values by age appears to represent two

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distinct cohorts of students, separated around the age of

There are many variables potentially affecting students’

25. The younger (18 to 25 years old) and older (over 25

engagement with learning. It has been suggested, for

years old) groups exhibit similar patterns in the change

example, that students’ secondary education has an impact

in learning approach, namely that the surface learning

on their approaches to learning (Harper & Kember, 1986).

approach score declines through time, and that the deep

The reasonable similarity between the under 25 year old

learning approach score increases through time. These

and over 25 year old groups suggests that the changes are

are not necessarily unambiguous declines and rises. In

related to progress through the three or four years of a

an echo of Biggs’ data, the patterns suggest that it may

degree course. The trends are likely to be weakened by

be easier for students to gain and/or teachers to support

having students enrolling at all ages, and many enrolling

a reduction of a surface learning approach, than it is for

part-time (60 per cent at our university), and therefore

the adoption of a deeper learning approach. Furthermore,

taking longer to complete their degrees. This would

it appears that while the overall patterns are similar for

provide a running averaging of scores. Further issues may

the 25 and under and over 25 year old cohorts, the older

be related to the specific demographics of our cohort,

groups appear to start with a greater propensity towards

perhaps more typical of the new generation and regional

surface learning and less propensity towards deep

universities, issues such as the low SES enrolment (26 per

learning than the younger group.

cent at SCU) and first in family enrolment (just under 70 per cent at SCU). Overall, however, while the study has followed previous research in its assumption that the key patterns are age-related to some extent, it appears that the changing tendencies may be better explained as being stage related.

Discussion Although a student’s first year at university has been shown to provide a solid basis for academic success (Burton et al., 2009), many first year students attending Australian universities – whether coming directly from

Lake & Boyd Surface Approach

secondary school or entering as mature-age students – are considered ill-prepared for tertiary education; many students are ‘… uncertain of what was expected of them’ (Krause et al., 2005, p. 66). Conventionally, this has been couched in terms of contrast between school leaver and mature-age entrants. It is claimed that uncertainty exhibits itself amongst first year students as low motivation towards their studies (McInnes et al., 2000). On the other hand, as Zeegers (2001) claims, the older a student, the more willing or able he or she is to commit to the use of elaborate but effective learning strategies that, by their very nature, require greater effort. Furthermore, older students have a greater ability to commit to their studies, and are more successful in completing their degrees

Lake & Boyd Deep Approach

(Zeegers, 2001). Such learning characteristics of older students may be attributed to three factors: motivational factors; the impact of secondary education; and the role of life experiences (Harper & Kember, 1986; Zeegers, 2001). Such arguments reinforce the notion that age plays

Figure 3. Measures of learning approach scores from the 2013 SPQ survey (columns against SPQ scale) by age, against award completions, derived from ABS data.

58

a significant role in a student’s tendency towards approaches to learning (i.e. Biggs, 1987; Regan 1996). Nevertheless, there are many other factors that influence

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a student’s approach to tertiary studies. Zeegers (2001)

Bill Boyd is the Professor of Geography at Southern Cross

argues that both age and their tertiary experience are

University, Lismore, Australia.

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likely to have an impact on a student’s learning. Richardson (1995) determined that the mode of university entry has a major impact on the students’ approach to learning, although he argued that a school leaver entering directly into university seems to be less motivated towards a meaningful or achieving approach compared to students who take a break between high school and university, even a break of just one or two years. Supporting this idea, Martin (2010) more recently suggested that participation in a gap year allows for resolution of motivational deficits between high school and university. From our studies, rather than reflecting the importance of age per se, this suggestion would allow a student to enter the same cohort at a stage when the change in balance between surface and deep learning approaches has commenced, perhaps resulting in better degree performance. If stage rather than age is the important variable, it is relevant to note the apparent difference between the magnitudes and rates of change of scores between the mature-age and usual age groups. Consideration of such patterns, plus issues of life stage as it relates to a student’s approach to university studies, suggests that further research would usefully build on the assumption of stage rather than age as the critical variable influencing the adoption of surface or deep learning approaches.

Our revisiting of the issue of learning approach reinforces the trend towards decreasing surface learning and increasing deep learning that Biggs identified in the 1980s and others since have supported. This is, of course, an important conclusion for an educational institute, especially one based on learning as scholarship rather than technical competence. However, our study elaborates on this model, and suggests that the trend is more related to other factors rather than to age per se. Importantly, the school leaver cohort (under 25-year-olds) does not exhibit a significantly weaker trend towards deep learning approaches than the mature-age cohort. Indeed both cohorts appear to behave in similar ways, despite their likely difference prior educational history, life experience and expectations of higher education. Warren Lake is a PhD candidate in the School of Environment, Science & Engineering, Southern Cross University, Lismore,

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics). (2013). Award Course Completions, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.innovation.gov.au/HigherEducation/ HigherEducationStatistics/StatisticsPublications/Pages/default.aspx. Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2010). Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010. Retrieved from http://olc.onlinelearningconsortium.org/ publications/survey/class_differences. Biggs, J. B. (1987). Student Approaches to Learning and Studying. Research Monograph. Hawthorn: Australian Council for Educational Research. Biggs, J., Kember, D., & Leung, D. (2001). The revised two-factor Study Process Questionnaire: R-SPQ-2F. The British Journal of Educational Psychology 71(Pt 1): 133–149. Burton, L.J., Taylor, J.A., Dowling, D.G. & Lawrence, J. (2009). Learning approaches, personality and concepts of knowledge of first-year students: Matureage versus school leaver. Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development 6(1), 65–81. Chesters, J. & Watson, L. (2013). Returns to education for those returning to education: evidence from Australia. Studies in Higher Education, 39(9), 1634–1648. doi: 10.1080/03075079.2013.801422. Eraut, M. (1994). Developing professional knowledge and competence. London: Taylor and Francis. Gow, L. & Kember, D. (1990). Does higher education promote independent learning? Higher Education 19(3), 307–322. Hall, R. (2010). The work–study relationship: experiences of full‐time university students undertaking part‐time employment. Journal of Education and Work 23(5), 439–449. Harper, G. & D. Kember (1986). Approaches to study of distance education students. British Journal of Educational Technology 17(3): 212–222.

Conclusion

Australia.

References

Hughes, K., Mylonas, A., & Benckendorff, P. (2013). Students’ reflections on industry placement: comparing four undergraduate work-integrated learning streams. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education 14(4), 265–279. Krause, K.-L., Hartley, R., James, R. & McInnes, C. (2005). The first year experience in Australian universities: Findings from a decade of national studies. Melbourne: Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne. Martin, A. J. (2010). Should students have a gap year? Motivation and performance factors relevant to time out after completing school. Journal of Educational Psychology 102(3), 561–576. McInnes, C., James, R. & Hartely, R. (2000). Trends in the first year experience in Australian universities. Retrieved from http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/ research/experience/firstyear_trends.html. Orrell, J. (2004). Work-integrated learning programs: Management and educational quality, in Carmichael, R. (Ed.). Proceedings of the Australian Universities Quality Forum 2004. Melbourne: AUQA Occasional Publication. Regan, J. (1996). First-year Southern Cross University students’ approaches to learning and studying: a replication study. Lismore: Unpublished M.Ed. Thesis, Southern Cross University. Richardson, J. (1995). Mature Students in Higher Education: II. An investigation of approaches to studying and academic performance. Studies in Higher Education 20(1), 5–17. Zeegers, P. (2001). Approaches to learning in science: a longitudinal study. The British Journal of Educational Psychology 71(1), 115–132.

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A new ‘ERA’ of women and leadership The gendered impact of quality assurance in Australian Higher Education Briony Lipton Australian National University

Quality assurance policies and practices are critical to the performance of Australian universities both in terms of national funding and international prestige and are redefining the future of the academic enterprise. Quality assurance is not merely the systematic measurement of quality. It is a political and heuristic process, which has significant gendered consequences for academic women in higher education. This paper problematises quality assurance measures such as the Australian Government’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative and reveals the tensions between neoliberalism and equality in a new era of higher education management. The embedded gender biases in research output reporting highlight a lack of commitment to academic women’s representation and leadership in academia. Since research performance plays such an intrinsic role in academic promotion, understanding the relationship between gender and assessments of research excellence is crucial to addressing the differences in male and female academic career trajectories and the paucity of women in academic leadership. Keywords: women, leadership, quality assurance, gender, Excellence in Research for Australia

‘ERA data is [sic] an ideal tool to guide strategic planning and investment, including aligning research strengths with industry, regional and national priorities to maximise the benefits of public investment in research.’ Australian Government, Excellence in Research for Australia ‘The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.’ Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider

experiencing the effects of a new era in higher education policy; of unprecedented student enrolment, a gradual decrease in government funding, and an increase in the marketisation of academic research. Deregulation of the higher education environment in Australia in favour of

corporatisation

and

performance-based

funding

models is highly visible and has increased competition amongst universities for funding and prestige. Quality assurance policies and practices are intrinsic to the operationalisation of the corporatised academy and are critical to the performance of Australian universities

Introduction

both domestically and internationally. Quality assurance measures are redefining the future of the academic

The Australian higher education sector has undergone

enterprise. One such auditing method is the Australian

significant operational changes over the last three

Government’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)

decades; indeed both public and private universities are

initiative. Established in 2010 as ‘an assessment system

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that evaluates the quality of the research conducted at

women in leadership positions. Whether, or not, the

Australian universities’, ERA is designed to manage quality

‘master’s tools’ can dismantle ‘the master’s house’ has been

(Australian Government, 2015). It is ‘a retrospective

at the heart of much feminist debate over the limitations

measure of research quality, volume, application and

of gender equity reform from within institutions. Quality

esteem aggregated into an overall performance rating’

assurance should have the capacity to integrate equality

with research quality compared against national and

measures on par with that of research excellence.

international benchmarks (Marsh et al., 2012, p. 85). It has quickly become an integral element of the changing

Methods

higher education landscape in how it informs government policy and determines the levels of government funding

This inquiry into the gendered dimensions of the systems

universities receive. ERA financially incentivises increased

that now govern universities is timely since universities

research excellence and productivity. However, the speed

are now preparing for the 2015 round of ERA reporting.

at which such quality assurance measures are adopted can

The Australian Research Council (ARC), the statutory

have significant negative repercussions for the academic

agency responsible for overseeing the ERA project,

endeavour if not critically analysed in its local context.

recently declared on its website that gender data is ‘being

Particularly in terms of what types of research constitute

collected for ERA 2015 to improve the ARC’s ability to

excellence, who produces such work, and what new

understand issues relating to gender and equity in relation

values are derived from such a process.What’s more there

to Australia’s university research landscape’ (Australian

has been little pause to question whether this market-

Government, 2015).The ERA 2015 Submission Guidelines

oriented environment and the quality assurance measures

states that:

that are shaping it are addressing the ongoing gender issue in Australian higher education; that of the paucity of academic women in leadership positions, and whether new managerialism and quality assurance are providing new opportunities or constraints for academic women. This paper problematises quality assurance exercises

Institutions will be required to submit gender data for each eligible researcher. Gender data will be used for reporting and analysis purposes only. Data will not form part of the evaluation process and will not be made available to peer reviewers or Research Evaluation Committees. (Australian Government, 2014a, pp. 7–8)

as reflected in ERA and reveals the tensions between neoliberal and equality projects in a new era of higher

While this news is a welcome advancement, it

education management. ERA is a gendered quality

necessitates further critical discussion of quality, gender

assurance measure; both in its inception and in the

equity and equality in research output measurements.

outcomes it produces. Quality assurance measures

The Australian Government’s ERA 2012 National Report

are inflected with political and heuristic biases that

(2012) does not disclose the gender composition of

unequivocally support a neoliberal corporatised higher

previous submissions. In the absence of such statistical

education agenda. In its current form, ERA is not an

data there is evidence that indicates gender discrimination

effective measure of the quality of Australian academic

and inequality in both the academic workplace and

research because it ignores the gendered differences

society more broadly, impacts upon the research careers

in research output. The omission of gendered (as well

of academic women and this results in women’s research

as raced and classed) social factors in such evaluation

output being less than that of their male counterparts.This

mechanisms has significant implications for the status

paper aims to generate a discussion on gender and quality

of women in academia. This inattention to the gender

assurance informed by both quantitative and qualitative

representation of research output in Australian higher

research. Consistent aggregated quantitative gender data

education comes at a time when academic research and

can provide a clear snapshot of gender differences in

the commercialisation of such research plays an intrinsic

research output; however, it is not just statistical evidence

role in the construction of leadership priorities and

but also about how such figures are socially and culturally

identities in the corporate, self-managed university. This

informed that is necessary for critical discussions on

paper also explores whether or not the objectives of

quality assurance and gender equality in academia. This

quality assurance could be redirected towards principles

paper does, however, critically analyse numerical data

of social justice, and whether an incorporation of equality

on the gender composition of the 2012 ERA Evaluations

into quality assurance measures such as ERA could assist

Committees, which was gathered from the ERA website

female academics and improve the representation of

and verified by each institution’s researcher profiles.

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While I concur with Morley (2014), Blackmore (2013)

and collective criticism against new managerialist

and others that ‘adding in’ women into such elite systems

practices and quality assurance measures is further

of knowledge production ‘is not an end in itself’ (Morley,

complicated by the individualisation of academic

2014, p. 124), this data in combination with qualitative

research. A call for greater accountability of academic

literature demonstrates how gender bias is evident at all

research, which prompted the development of ERA, is

stages in the quality assurance process and contributes to

ubiquitous with increased managerial and organisational

the paucity of academic women in positions of authority

power. As Smith reveals, quality assurance is ‘not about

and leadership.

rooting out under-performing departments; rather, it is to make academics “docile” in accepting expansion and

A new era of university management and quality assurance in Australia

the government’s definitions of quality’ (2008, p. 624). This control society of ‘capitalist realism’ traps us in the various manifestations of neoliberalism: the updated

Since the first full round of ERA reporting occurred in

ideas of liberal economics, of free trade, privatisation

2010 there has been limited critical discussion on the ways

and deregulation, all of which are underpinned by

in which ERA perpetuates gender inequality in Australian

the logic of capital (Skeggs, 2014; Newman, 2013).

universities. This is because to do so requires a radical

Notwithstanding, neoliberalism is a highly contested

disentanglement of the presumed purposes and values of

concept, it is nevertheless, as Clarke (2008) describes, a

academic work from the interests of neoliberalism. ERA is

‘promiscuous’ term, one which is ‘widely overused and

indicative of Australia’s engagement with the international

notoriously difficult to pin down’ (Newman, 2013, p.

higher education market. Quality assurance measures are

205). Neoliberalism appears almost resistant to criticism

deployed by a government that simultaneously seeks to

precisely because it has individualised and internalised the

reduce its financial commitment to, and also increase its

norms of capitalist logic and self-interest (Skeggs, 2014),

control over the recently corporatised higher education

making it difficult to articulate the origins of inequality.

sector (Harvey & Newton, 2004; Deem et al., 2008;

This is the rhetoric of a free market economy; it comes

Morley, 2003, 2014; Lafferty & Fleming, 2000). Defined

packaged with intensive managerial control practices

as ‘new public management’, or ‘new managerialism’,

(Lorenz, 2012; Deem et al., 2008). This individualising

this new form of corporate university management ‘is

discourse is complicated by its appropriation of the

characterised by public sector institutions adopting

mythology of ‘the academic good life’. The pleasures and

organisational forms, technologies, management practices

satisfaction of scholarly work and academic’s passionate

and values more commonly found in the private business

investment in research represents a critical example of

sector’ (White et al., 2011, p. 180). It is based on the

how the university workplace has been neoliberalised.

neoliberalist rationality that institutional competition and

Gill (2010) notes that, in many ways, academics are the

consumer preferences are more efficient mechanisms for

ideal neoliberal subject. Academics are concomitant

allocating resources than government interventions and

in the process of neoliberalising academic labour, and

regulatory frameworks. Measurements of research output,

the work ethic of the ‘ideal academic’ reinforces what

a valued commodity on the international higher education

Berlant (2011) describes as ‘cruel optimism’; that is that

economic market, are thus used to gauge productivity and

researchers’ relentless dedication to and investment in

performance (Deem et al., 2008; Grummell et al., 2009).

research and teaching does not allow them to challenge

An increased focus on the outcomes of quality assurance

or alter established structures but merely to accept and

reporting is altering the ways in which research ‘quality’

endure the inundation of academic work, and increasing

is measured and subsequently valued by those inside and

administrative responsibilities (Bagihole & White, 2011).

outside of the academy. Moreover, quality of research becomes not just a matter of whether academics publish their research, but about what they publish, where they

The political and heuristic biases embedded in quality assurance

publish it, and how often it is cited. The intensification of work and the mantra of ‘publish

Criticism

of

neoliberal

management

policies

and

or perish’ are endemic features of academic life and

practices that now underpin the Australian higher

a result of new managerialism and the underfunded

education sector are also fragmented and weakened by

expansion of universities (Gill, 2010; Morley, 2003;

the underlying politics of quality assurance. The notion

Reddan, 2008; Bolden et al., 2012). The lack of cohesive

that quality assurance is a political tool is not new.

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However, the majority of literature on quality assurance

in order to meet the needs of the prospective and

in higher education, both in Australia and internationally,

existing customer. In this corporatised higher education

concentrates on the technical aspects of the process

model, students and parents are repositioned as private

rather than unpacking embedded partialities inherent

individual consumers investing in their education,

in such measures. Neoliberalism perverts concepts of

expecting a return on their capital. As such, ‘considerable

‘efficiency’, ‘accountability’, ‘transparency’, and ‘quality’

resources are allocated to the effective packaging, selling,

for the purposes of profit and these redefined ideas are

and distribution of the “product” and images, slogans

then implemented and actualised by new managerialism.

and marketing campaigns are utilised to endorse the

The purpose of quality assurance is typically recognised

product and attract increasing numbers of consumers’

as accountability and improvement. The definition of

(Fitzgerald & Wilkinson, 2010, p. 26). Research excellence

accountability being used in quality assurance and new

is understood as being an important commodity in

managerialist discourse is derived from financial usage

this practice. Neoliberal principles of individualism,

and is in direct opposition with common understandings

competition, standards and improvement are embedded

of accountability as democratic and egalitarian (Lorenz,

into new managerialism, values, that Fitzgerald and

2012). Kate White et al. (2011) cite quality assurance

Wilkinson (2010) propose, run counter to values of equity,

measures as ‘a classic example’ of new managerialism in

collegiality, and cooperation.Accountability ‘is assumed to

operation. The

neoliberal

accountability

prerogative

appropriates

a

rationale

justification

as

social

for the implementation of quality assurance measures so

as

to

obscure

its

be an intrinsically desirable

Neoliberal principles of individualism, competition, standards and improvement are embedded into new managerialism, values, that ... run counter to values of equity, collegiality, and cooperation.

financial intentions. It also implies

an

goal, and nobody ever claims that one can have “too much” accountability – the pressure is always for more’ (Charlton cited in Lorenz, 2012, p. 617).

Thus,

arguments

against the need for more

unproblematic

‘transparent’ ‘accountability’

moral necessity and hence neutralises the political

to stakeholders go largely unchallenged and the political

characteristics of quality assurance. It is therefore not

motivations obscured.

difficult to understand how and why government

Quality assurance measurements such as ERA are

imposed quality assurance may have a particular agenda.

also based on an individual’s heuristic judgements and

Skolnik proposes that it is not ill-conceived to imagine that

definitions of what constitutes quality as well as political

higher education leaders could ‘define quality in a way

bias. Assessments of excellence are ‘far from being an

that best served their interests’ (2010, p. 9), particularly

exercise in disinvested and disinterested judgments’

if individuals and institutions are unable to challenge

it is ‘one of situated decision-making, reproducing

the implementation of such quality assurance processes.

the cultures from which it emanates’ (White et al.,

Lorenz highlights the paradox when he contends: who ‘can

2011, p. 181). Houston and Paewai (2013) assert that

legitimately stand opposed to “transparency”, or “quality”

the accountability argument for quality assurance is

or “accountability”?’ (2012, p. 625). The interactions of

biased towards those that design and implement such

power, knowledge and meaning shape quality assurance

measures, namely government and quality assurance

processes and support their continued operation despite

agencies. Theorisations of critical systems heuristics

ongoing criticism (Houston & Paewai, 2013).

can be used to better understand the aims and potential

The ARC makes explicit the Australian Government’s

scope of such projects. Quality assurance can be

justification for ERA when it states that ERA ‘data is an

understood as a series of systems. These systems require

ideal tool to guide strategic planning and investment,

the quality assurer to make decisions about the direction

including aligning research strengths with industry,

and implementation of quality assurance processes. As

regional and national priorities to maximise the benefits

a consequence, definitions of quality will be specific

of public investment in research’ (Australian Government,

to the assurer’s methodological approach, their values,

2014c). This explanation reveals the political motivations

and desired outcomes. Socially-driven quality assurance

behind the implementation of ERA. Public stakeholder

ensures the presence of heuristic elements, which limits

confidence in the ‘quality’ of Australian academic research

rather than improves issues surrounding such processes

is considered paramount to the quality assurance exercise

and measures.

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Thus quality assurance is not merely the systematic

yet it remains the standard and assumed model to attaining

measurement of quality.The unchallenged and perceived

formal leadership positions despite the significant

neutrality of quality assurance disguises its very power.

changes to the academic labour market (Grummell

Politics and the heuristic motivations behind those

et al., 2009; Chesterman et al., 2003; Bagihole & White,

ideologies are used to determine ‘the public allocation

2011; Morley, 2014). Previous qualitative and quantitative

of things that are valued’ (Skolnik, 2010, p. 3). ERA

research on women in Australian universities shows that

‘aims to identify and promote excellence across the

marital status, number of dependent children, elder care,

full spectrum of research activity in Australia’s higher

doctoral degree, academic rank, teaching over research,

education institutions’ (Australian Government, 2014).

workload, research collaboration, and research funding all

However, what constitutes quality in higher education

influence women’s career progression. Many women also

is not neutral or objective. It is imbued with value. A

experience multiple pressures in combination with overt

critical systems heuristic approach highlights that the

and concealed types of discrimination that consequently

narrowing of process possibilities that occur during the

have an impact on their professional and personal lives

design of quality assurance measures and the political

(Eveline, 2004; White, 2003; Broadbent et al., 2013; Dever

perspectives of the decision-maker disadvantage the

& Morrison, 2009; Probert, 2005, Bagihole & White, 2011).

activities being audited and hinder quality improvement.

Despite universities’ insistence on the centrality of equity

In recognising that quality assurance is a political and

and diversity to institutions’ practices, what is forgotten

heuristic process, it must be also acknowledged that

is the extent to which women must negotiate societal

these personal and political motivations are also inflicted

discourses and gendered barriers in order to compete on

with gender biases. New managerialism exacerbates

an equal footing with men. Women have been included

inequity and unequitable practices in its reproduction

in the academy and recognised in policy without any real

of top-down hierarchical power relations. It reinforces

change to existing gendered social structures.The barriers

patterns of inequality and is a ‘terrain deeply marked

are multiple and systemic (Morley, 2014; Pyke, 2013;

by gender and gendered boundaries’ (Fitzgerald &

Probert, 2005; White et al., 2011; Grummell et al., 2009;

Wilkinson, 2010, p. 25).

Bagihole & White, 2011)

The influence of gendered social factors on research output

academic

Broader gender inequalities continue to characterise employment,

academic

influence

and

excellence, and notions of the ‘ideal academic’ in Australian higher education. Fiona Jenkins in her research

Measure plays an integral role in the creation of value

on women in philosophy interrogates:‘if merit is based on

and the social construction of reality (Adkins & Lury,

achievement why is it, that talent and hard work are mostly

2012), and as such, it is crucial to understand the ways in

represented by white males?’ (2013, p. 81). Merit implies

which new managerialism both promotes and devalues

that the best person for the job should be appointed

the contributions of female academics, and how quality

in relation to his or her abilities and achievements,

assurance measures based on research productivity affirm

irrespective of status, gender or other facets of identity. It

dominant institutional narratives of ‘quality’ in research

is an ideological system for establishing and legitimating

and leadership as being masculine (Thornton, 2013;

hierarchy and inequality based on individual achievement.

Morley 2003). Gendered social factors also influence

It is supposed to replace inherited privilege as a means of

research output. Forty-four per cent of academic staff

allocating rewards, power, and resources and to establish

in Australia are female, yet women represent only 28

legitimate hierarchies and ensure excellence, but it is also

per cent of staff above senior lecturer level and only

a system of power. Merit prevents an interrogation of its

25 per cent of university vice-chancellors (Australian

systems through its naturalisation as an apolitical process.

Government, 2014b; Universities Australia, 2010). Women

In organisational logic, jobs and hierarchies are abstract

are by no means absent from the contemporary academy.

genderless categories. However, a theoretical descriptor

Yet women are far from achieving parity with men in

of a job only becomes tangible if there is an individual

professorial and formal leadership positions. The gender

to occupy the position. Acker states that ‘the concept

gap is even more noticeable between the levels of

of “a job” assumes a particular gendered organisation of

associate professor and full professor (Pyke, 2013). The

domestic life and social production’ (1990, p. 149). The

traditional linear career trajectory from assistant lecturer

universal ‘individual’ is, in social reality, a male. Thornton

to professor to executive dean is no longer the norm and

argues that:

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... the ideal academic continues to be constituted in the image of Benchmark Man. This normative masculinist standard favours those who are Anglo-Australian, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle-class, not elderly, espouse a right-of-centre politics and a nominal mainstream religion, if any. (2013, p. 128)

occupy lower-ranked positions masculinity always seems

This is because under the logic of capital, male bodies

be partially due to the greater proportion of men in the

are understood to have the most capacity to accumulate

sciences, for instance, where articles are more common

capital (Skeggs, 2014; Grummell et al., 2009). Merit is

than books (Bentley, 2011; Marsh et al., 2012). Publication

inflected with bias and integral to neoliberal corporatised

output differences could also reflect the gender

higher education. Women, and particularly women of

representation or culture of a particular discipline. For

colour, fall short against the ideal academic. Despite merit

example, in the sciences there is also an issue of being the

and equal opportunity, there remains a lack of diversity

first or last author on papers, in which women are rarely

amongst university leaders. Tanya Fitzgerald states that

the lead investigator or author (Wilson, 2012). Similarly,

‘women’s presence in the world of men is conditional

differences in research publication output may vary

to them being willing to modify their behaviour’ (2014,

amongst institutions. These gendered disciplinary and

p. 6). Many university equity and diversity programs

institutional differences are imbricated with pre-existing

aim to assist women to better navigate the prevailing

gendered social factors, which impacts on the research

higher education landscape, and to assimilate into the

output of academics.

to symbolise self-respect for men at the bottom and power for men at the top’ (1990, p. 145). Furthermore, disciplinary differences are also gendered. If publications are based on articles only, the gender difference would

overarching patriarchal structure. Grummell et al. (2009,

The bias in research output affects which researchers

p. 192) note that under this new highly individualised

have influence in both academia and in the public

neoliberal enterprise, old masculinities have been remade

domain. Female academics are more likely to experience

in order to ‘maintain hegemonic male advantage’. Feteris

career interruptions, which undermine their (perceived)

(2012), Fitzgerald (2014) and others observe that: ‘the

competitiveness and negatively impacts on their research

only path to success is for women to learn to become

productivity. As a consequence, women are also less

honorary men’ (Feteris, 2012). Institutions’ submissions

likely than men to apply for promotion; they form fewer

to ERA reflect a gender bias in research output, which

research collaborations and apply for fewer grants.

in turn influences perceptions of the worth and value of

Female academics, as they tend to work in fields that

research excellence.

are less likely to attract industry funding, are less likely

Gendered values around notions of the ideal academic

to be considered as working in national research priority

and what constitutes excellence in conjunction with

areas.These all influence women’s academic membership

ongoing gender inequalities result in women academics

and career progression (Ahmed, 2006; Bentley, 2011;

producing

gender

Feteris, 2012; Fitzgerald & Wilkinson, 2010; Luke, 1997;

representation may be quite similar when the rate of

Probert, 2005; White et al., 2011; Grummell et al., 2009).

publications is relatively low but previous research

Fewer publications equates with less opportunities for

demonstrates that at the apex, men continue to publish

promotion. Academic status is a symbolic representation

three times more than women and are more likely to

of academic influence and legitimacy. As a consequence,

represent the majority of top-tiered publications (Bentley,

‘a minority of highly productive researchers’ may indeed

2011; Wilson, 2012). Women’s underrepresentation in

account for ‘a disproportionate share of total publications’

higher education leadership is not about women’s lack of

(Bentley, 2011, p. 95).The quantification of research output

ambition or capabilities but ‘a consequence of the limited

is highly gendered and there is a need to interrogate

opportunities created in an environment of systematically

existing, taken-for-granted notions of measure and value as

gendered cultural, social and structural arrangements that

contributing to the continued paucity of academic women

inform women educator’s choices and possibilities relative

in leadership in Australian higher education. The lack of

to their male colleagues’ (Blackmore & Sachs, 2007, p. 13).

women in senior academic and leadership positions is

Women continue to over represent in stereotypically

both a factor and an outcome of female academics’ lower

‘feminised’ academic disciplines and in disciplines with

rates of publication in comparison to men and the ways

weaker access to industry and government funding and

in which quality assurance measures are gendered. These

underrepresent as editors of journals (Morley, 2014). The

gendered differences in research output should prompt

gender identity of jobs and occupations is continually

a re-evaluation of systems of measurement such as ERA.

reproduced in new forms. Acker notes that ‘even if men

Research audit exercises not only purport to evaluate

less

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‘quality’ but they also determine ‘worth’ and ‘relevance’

Evaluation Committees had equal gender representation.

of research in terms of its international currency. What

The gender bias in committee representation is clearly

constitutes ‘excellence’ is currently generated and

evident (see Table 1). Committee members were selected

inhabited by a predominantly male academic cohort

for being leaders in their fields; an academic leadership

(Fitzgerald & Wilkinson, 2010) and, as Jenkins notes, this

position, which denotes excellence, status, and respect.

gendered dominance acts as a ‘powerful mechanism

Quality assurance and assessments of quality are deeply

of affirmation of subsisting institutional arrangements’

political processes and the gender representation of ERA

(2013, p. 83).

Evaluation Committees reveals an imbalance of influence in the ERA quality assurance project.

The significance of gender representation in academic leadership

It is not merely the percentage of men and women on the ERA Evaluation Committees that should be of concern, but rather, what constitutes academic

Considering the gendered history of women’s careers,

knowledge, how it is produced and how it is measured. It

female academics’ experiences of discrimination, and the

has to do with the gendered assumptions that are made

imperviousness of gendered organisational structures;

about the academic enterprise when only men are visible

why, then, if at all, should women aspire to enter into

and are seen as producers, publishers and evaluators of

higher education leadership? Morley (2013a, 2014) raises

knowledge. Equality is achieved when power is shared

this valid question in her exploration of the affective

between men and women, when women get to also

dimensions of crafting and managing leadership identities,

participate in and shape the rules and traditions, so that

which is about who self-identifies, and is identified by

the foundations of the university organisation may be

existing power elites as ‘having leadership legitimacy’.The

based on the experiences, ideas and contributions of both

embedded gender biases in quality assurance measures

genders. The underrepresentation of academic women

such as ERA highlight a lack of genuine commitment

in Australian higher education is not simply about the

to academic women’s representation and leadership in

percentage of women. Blackmore (2013) proposes that

higher education.This is no less evident than in the gender

what is needed is a refocusing of the feminist gaze away

composition of the 2012 ERA Evaluation Committees. ERA

from numerical representation of women in leadership to

ratings are ‘determined and moderated by committees

a more nuanced understanding of the gender inequalities

of distinguished researchers, drawn from Australia and

experiences by women in academia, and how such

overseas’ (Australian Government, 2014c). The 2012 ERA

measurements of research performance informs notions

evaluations were undertaken by eight Research Evaluation

of university leadership. Nevertheless, without a critical

Committees broadly representative of disciplinary cluster

mass of women in influential decision-making positions

groups. While the gender of the Committee Chairs was

notions of quality and excellence and the measurement of

represented equally, only one of the eight Research

these are severely weakened.There is a need to look more

25

Table 1. Gender representation of ERA Evaluation Committees, 2012

Female 20 15

Male

9 4

9 2

10

4

2

4

10 5

14

14

14

0

10

12

14

12

Physical, Humanities Engineering Education Economics Math., Biological Chemical & & Creative & Enviro. & Human & Info. & & Biotech. Earth Arts Sciences Society Commerce Computing Sciences Sciences Sciences Female 4 9 2 10 4 2 4 Male 14 14 14 10 12 14 12

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closely at social relations of gender and power. Power

proposes that the nature, purpose and capacities of

itself must be theorised (Morley, 2013b) because in the

leadership, of educational systems, organisations, and

Australian academy there is both a gender imbalance and

educational reform need to be problematised in order to

an imbalance of power.

‘rethink their practices in more socially just ways’ (2013, p.

Even if the Evaluation Committees had equal gender

139). New managerialism and quality assurance measures

representation, quality assurance measures and new

play a significant role in determining the status of women

managerialism prevents critical engagement with the

in academia. What might it look like to redirect quality

social relations of gender and power, and this in turn

assurance towards principles of social justice? Alternative

affects how we theorise and practice leadership in

perspectives

academia. Since research performance plays such an

informed by feminist theory and principles of social

intrinsic role in notions of academic excellence and

justice need to be explored in more detail. There is no

indeed promotion, understanding the relationship

definitive answer as to whether this would unequivocally

between gender representation and research output

improve the representation of academic women in

is crucial to addressing the differences in male and

university leadership, and yet it is necessary to explore

female academic career trajectories and the paucity

the possibilities and limitations of reconceptualising

of women in leadership roles. Notions of the ideal

quality assurance measures from feminist and social

academic have a significant impact on what types of

justice perspectives.

of

leadership

and

quality

assurance,

academic endeavours are considered most meritorious

In her formative essay ‘The Master’s Tools Will Never

and indicative of excellence (Jenkins & Keane, 2014)

Dismantle the Master’s House’ (1984) Audre Lorde

and this influences not only the composition of ‘experts’

proclaims that it is not possible for feminists to truly

on ERA Research Evaluation Committees but it impacts

transform patriarchal hegemony from within institutions

on the representation of women in academic leadership

that sustain and perpetuate inequality. She asks: ‘what

positions more broadly. Academic performativity is a

does it mean when the tools of a racist patriarchy are

masculinist discourse (Smith, 2008), which significantly

used to examine the fruits of that same patriarchy?’ (1984,

influences normative understandings of university

p. 112). Lorde claims that operating within a patriarchal

leadership (Morley, 2013b). Quality assurance is an

structure offers limited parameters for change. With

operational tool for neoliberalising higher education

the advent of affirmative action, equal employment

that has facilitated and legitimated what Thornton

opportunity, and workplace diversity, universities can

(2013) describes as a remasculinisation of the university.

no longer be described exclusively as antiquated ivory

Women represent a discontinuity to what was once

towers of patriarchal hegemony. Universities are complex

an exclusively masculine domain (Morley, 2014).

institutions with an array of competing discourses at

Considering the ARC’s commitment to gender in 2015

play. They are, however, as Acker (1990) and Morley

ERA reporting, it is interesting to note that the ARC

(1999) reveal, gendered in their structural foundations

does not disclose (at the time of submission) the gender

as well as in their day-to-day operationalisation. It must

composition of the 2015 ERA Evaluation Committees.

be acknowledged that to reference Lorde in this context,

What can be discerned from the list of Evaluation

is to perhaps move away from the aims of her maxim.

Committee chairs is that in 2015 there is not even a

However, Lorde’s dialectical writings can nevertheless

fifty-fifty split in gender representation. Instead, six of

be applied to the gendered issue of quality assurance

the ten committees are to be headed up by a prominent

measures in Australian higher education. Using Lorde’s

male academic. In its current form, ERA is not a tool

metaphor, ERA can be understood as a patriarchal tool,

suitable for dismantling gendered university structures,

but more specifically, ERA is a tool of neoliberal corporate

nor will it support or facilitate women’s promotion and

new managerialism, which has significant gendered

advancement to senior decision-making roles.

consequences for women in higher education. It is a quality assurance measure that, in its current form, does

Towards a model of socially just quality assurance

not benefit women in academia. ‘The master’s tools’ is a complex descriptor that offers positive and negative connotations. It is a metaphor for exploring privilege,

Leadership is socially articulated and constituted by

power, and judgement. While Lorde’s statement might

a social and policy sphere that many women do not

appear to be a cliché or an overly simplistic binary, her

choose or even control (Morley, 2013a, p. 118). Blackmore

words are polysemic, and invite the need for a critical

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reflection on neoliberalism and gender equality in the

are often a horizontal sidestep away from centralised

present. Lorde is challenging reformist feminists toward a

executive leadership and positions of influence, which

more radical subjectivity.

may limit the impact such roles have on university strategy

In contrast, Luke argues that quality assurance ‘can be

and decision-making (Morley, 2013a, 2014; Grummell et

used strategically for a politics of transformation in the

al., 2009). Quality assurance projects remain committed

interests of women’ (1997, p. 434). Luke examines the

to management and control over processes and there

positive and negative consequences of quality assurance

is a persistent pattern of gender segregation in such

on women in academia, and reveals how the introduction

approaches. Horizontal and vertical forms of gender

of quality assurance in higher education in the early

segregation in organisations and gender divisions in paid

1990s made gender discrimination visible through formal

and unpaid labour are partly created through gendered

grievance processes and opened up boardroom doors to

practices and processes (Acker, 1990; Grummell et al.,

women’s participation in department committee meetings.

2009). There are distinct patterns of women clustering in

The advent of quality assurance enfranchised female staff

administrative and academic portfolios produced by new

and students on campus.The previous ‘no-systems culture’

managerialism, which Morley (2014) states, is a strategic

allowed sexism and misogyny to go unfettered. A lack of

incorporation of equity. Women’s leadership capabilities

any formal processes ‘legitimated a male professoriate in

are still considered to be ‘soft’ management skills and are

sovereign control of departmental fiefdoms’ (Luke, 1997, p.

not valued in a management culture strongly focused on

443).At this time, quality assurance was closely connected

research output. Women occupy more junior positions,

with the equity agenda in both the public service and

while promotional panels and interview committees are

higher education and Luke considers its mechanisms as

dominated by senior academic men (White et al., 2011).

an opportunity for ‘equity-orientated change management’

As such, women are systematically redirected away from

(1997, p. 437). Luke’s proposal has been expanded upon

pathways to influential leadership positions (Morley, 2014).

by the work of Morley (2003, 2005, 2013a, 2014) as well

In a recent stimulus paper on women and leadership

as by Blackmore and Sachs (2007), Deem et al. (2008),

in higher education Morley (2013b) highlights that a mix

and Bagihole and White (2011) and yet it is worth

of equity measures such as policies, quotas, targets, and

revisiting Luke’s original argument in conversation with

statistical monitoring is needed to improve the gender

more recent literature because it marks an interesting

representation of academic women in leadership. In

shift in understanding the capacity of quality assurance,

contrast, Grummell et al. (2009) note that for many gender

and was written just prior to a period of political and

issues, work-life balance and equal opportunity policies

economic change in Australia, which saw dramatic cuts

will have little effect if gendered moral assumptions of

to higher education funding, an increase in tuition fees,

care work are not problematised. Bagihole and White

and quality assurance reform measures not dissimilar to

(2011) suggest that female mentorship and role modelling

what is occurring in the present. Luke’s perspective can be

as well as a critique of leadership and the roles and

understood as a move away from Lorde’s statement on the

responsibilities of senior management are all positive

tools of patriarchy. Luke is proposing that quality assurance

examples of successful methods of intervention. However

could in fact be a tool for systemic intervention: quality

ambiguous and contradictory this proposal for socially

assurance for social justice. She rejects the monolithic

just quality assurance might seem, there is a potentiality

discourse of managerialism, corporatism and economic

in such measures. Luke is committed to the notion that

rationalism and urges a feminist review that would create

quality assurance and new managerialism presents an

alternate opportunities for women. Luke contests what she

opportunity for women to become change agents for

argues is the futile feminist stance that women reject the

the academic advancement of women. Indeed, Bolden

notion of subverting patriarchy from within institutions,

et al. (2012, p. 2) in their report on academic leadership

and cites the implementation of quality assurance as an

in the United Kingdom found that ‘individual academics

opportunity to make visible women’s contributions in

may become regarded as leaders when they are seen to

higher education.

fight for a common cause’. Such everyday interactions and

Quality assurance may indeed as Luke suggests present

practices can influence workplace cultures and change

new opportunities for women and offer a new paradigm

institutional norms and yet the global literature suggests

for understanding academic work. This burgeoning area

that women and men continue to be placed differently

of management has offered women new leadership

within the university and with differential access to

opportunities. However, these management positions

leadership opportunities (Morley, 2013b).

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While Luke’s optimism for the potential of quality

for all women’ (2010, p. 119). The gender segregation of

assurance as a feminist instrument for gender equality is

university professorial and leadership positions remains a

constructive, it nevertheless highlights that the privilege

feature, and affects the status of academic women in the

and power of external auditors, whom this system

Australian academy.

benefits, limits the autonomy and agency of universities to

Despite scholarly criticism and dissatisfaction with

change or challenge quality assurance measures. Houston

quality assurance in universities, quality assurance as a

& Paewai (2013) propose that incorporating more

new managerialist methodology prevails (Houston &

reflexivity into quality assurance measures could improve

Paewai 2013; Morley, 2003; Reddan, 2008). This in itself

quality assurance outcomes. However, they concede that

reaffirms the status (or lack thereof) of gender equity in

there are slim chances for change. When gender equity is

quality assurance. The gender equality agenda is sidelined

construed as an optional ‘add-on’ divorced from the aims

as universities orient themselves towards export markets.

of excellence, equity competes with other markers of

Placing economic profit ahead of the social and cultural

excellence for priority (Jenkins, 2013). Equity issues now

benefits of research only serves to reinforce the political

compete for precedence with other sector-wide priorities

priorities of external agents and the heuristic processes of

such as domestic funding constraints, international

quality assurance management. Skolnik notes that ‘if there

rankings, and online learning, and White et al. (2011)

is a genuine desire to recognise the diverse views regarding

note that new managerialism has not necessarily led to

quality and to strive for educational improvement, then the

increased support or academic opportunities for women.

quality assessment process should be designed in a way that

It is an oversimplification to claim unequivocally that new

will further these ends’ (2010, p. 17). To problematise quality

managerialism and to a similar extent, quality assurance,

assurance projects such as ERA is to think critically about

have either benefited or hindered the careers of academic

the processes and structures that are operating in higher

women. Rather there are a myriad of convergent ways in

education and how gender differences might be taken

which this new managerialist quality assurance agenda

into account. ERA has significant repercussions for female

influences gender differences in academia, and this

academics, which will ultimately reshape the university

requires further critical attention.

landscape. Australian higher education is on the brink of a new era; if quality assurance is an inevitable feature of the

Conclusion

corporatised university then measures and reporting must take into account the diverse experiences and career paths

Gender differences in research output are a result of deep-

of female academics. It must prioritise gender. Equity and

rooted inequalities embedded in the research careers of

equality must remain central to notions of quality.

men and women and workplace cultures that invent and reproduce gendered stereotypes (Acker, 1990). Current

Briony Lipton is a tutor and PhD Candidate in the Research

quality assurance measures adversely affect women.

School of Social Sciences, Australian National University,

Gendered reporting results in gendered outcomes.

Canberra, Australia.

Performance indicators continue to reflect and valorise the ideal academic as male and masculine principles of knowledge production, which dominate structures of governance.The archetype academic continues to be male and quality assurance operates to reinforce this (Smith, 2008). ‘Until power and structural causes of inequalities are addressed’, Fitzgerald and Wilkinson offer, ‘change is

References Acker, J. (1990). Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A theory of gendered organisations. Gender and Society 4.2, 139–158. Adkins, L. & Lury, C. (2012). Introduction: Special measures, in L. Adkins, & C. Lury (Eds). Measure and Value. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.

unlikely to be anything other than perfunctory’ (2010, p.

Ahmed, S. (2006). Doing diversity work in higher education in Australia. Educational Philosophy and Theory 38.6, 745–768.

35). Models of change are part of the neoliberal-patriarchal

Australian Government. (2012). ERA 2012 National Report, Canberra.

university enterprise paradox. While some women may

Australian Government. (2014a). ERA 2015 Submission Guidelines. Canberra.

have been able to forge careers out of quality assurance

Australian Government. (2014b). Department of Education and Training. Higher Education statistics. Retrieved from http://education.gov.au/staff-data.

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Australian Government. (2014c). Excellence in Research for Australia. Retrieved from http://www.arc.gov.au/era/ b. Australian Government. (2015). Excellence in Research for Australia. Retrieved from http://www.arc.gov.au/era/. A new ‘ERA’ of women and leadership Briony Lipton

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Lorde, A. (1984). Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde. Freedom, CA: Crossing. Lorenz, C. (2012). If you’re so smart, why are you under surveillance? Universities, neoliberalism, and new public management. Critical Inquiry 38, 599–629. Luke, C. (1997). Quality assurance and women in higher education. Higher Education 33, 433–451. Marsh, H., Smith, B., King, M., & Evans, T. (2012). A new era for research education in Australia ? Australian Universities’ Review 54.1, 83–93. Morley, L. (1999). Organising Feminisms: The Micropolitics of the Academy. New York: St Martin’s Press. Morley, L. (2003). Quality and Power in Higher Education. Society for Research into Higher Education Philadelphia: (SRHE) and Open University Press. Morley, L. (2005). Opportunity or exploitation? Women and quality assurance in higher education. Gender and Education 17.4. 411–429. Morley, L. (2013a). The rules of the game: Women and the leaderist turn in higher education. Gender and Education 25.1, 116–131. Morley, L. (2013b). Women and Higher Education Leadership: Absences and Aspirations. London: Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. Morley, L. (2014). Lost leaders: Women in the global academy. Higher Education Research and Development 33.1, 114-–128. Newman, J. (2013). Spaces of power: Feminism, neoliberalism and gendered labour. Social Politics 20.2, 200–221. Probert, B. (2005). ‘I just couldn’t fit it in’: Gender and unequal outcomes in academic careers. Gender, Work and Organisation 12.1, 50–72. Pyke, J. (2013). Women, choice and promotion or why women are still a minority in the professoriate. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 35.4, 444–454. Redden, G. (2008). From RAE to ERA: Research evaluation at work in the corporate university. Australian Humanities Review 45, 7–26. Skeggs, B. (2014). Value beyond value? Is anything beyond the logic of capital? The British Journal of Sociology 65.1, 1–20. Skolnik, M. L. (2010). Quality assurance in higher education as a political process. Higher Education Management and Policy 22.1, 1–20. Smith, J. (2008). Quality assurance and gender discrimination in English universities: An investigation. British Journal of Sociology of Education 29.6, 623–38. Strachan, G. (2010). Still working for the man? Women’s employment experiences in Australia since 1950. Australian Journal of Social Issues 45.1, 117–130. Thornton, M. (2013). The mirage of merit: Reconstituting the ‘ideal academic’. Australian Feminist Studies 28.76, 127–143. Universities Australia. (2010). Universities Australia Strategy for Women: 2011-2014. Canberra. Wilson, R. (2012). Scholarly publishing’s gender gap: Women cluster in certain fields, according to a study of millions of journal articles, while men get more credit, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/ article/The-Hard-Numbers-Behind/135236/?cid=wb&utm_source=wb&utm_ medium=en. White, K. (2003). Women and leadership in higher education in Australia. Tertiary Education and Management 9.1, 45–60. White, K., Carvalho, T., & Riordan, S. (2011). Gender, power and managerialism in universities. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 33.2, 179–188.

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OPINION

Too few or perhaps too many STEM graduates Bob Birrell The Australian Population Research Institute

Industry bodies, research and educational organisations have lobbied intensely for increased funding for training in the STEM disciplines. It is time to reassess this advocacy. Undergraduate commencements in STEM fields have increased strongly since 2009, yet the current employment prospects for these graduates are poor. Advocates have not made a convincing case that this situation will change. The outlook in the information technology (IT) fields is particularly concerning. Domestic graduates in IT face a labour market in which their numbers are being dwarfed by the influx of immigrant IT professionals, many of whom are employed by Indian IT service companies with branches in Australia. This is occurring at the same time as Australian public and private organisations are sending offshore much of their computing work through these same IT service companies. Keywords: STEM, IT, Australia

There has been a recent crescendo of advocacy for more

(ACOLA, 2014) report on the role of science, research and

tertiary education training, especially in the STEM fields

technology in lifting Australian productivity. The Council

(science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Such

argues that Australia’s prospects for knowledge intensive

training, it is said, is crucial for Australia’s future prosperity.

industries ‘will depend on adopting technological

For Australia’s Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb (Chief Scientist

innovation to develop high-value products and services

of Australia, 2015), it is not just the nation’s prosperity that

for a global market’ (ACOLA, 2014, p. 13). If this is to occur,

is at stake but the jobs young people may miss out on if

Australia will have to develop an innovative workforce,

they do not take STEM courses.

‘with STEM skills and knowledge crucial.’ The Council

Chubb’s advocacy for more training in the STEM

asserts that action is urgently needed, because,‘time is not

fields at the secondary school level is not at issue. More

on our side. In the past ten years, other countries have

technological literacy, especially in information technology,

moved ahead of us (ACOLA, 2014, p. 21).’

will be an advantage in whatever field of work young

This campaign is having some success, at least at the

people enter.The topic explored here is the medium term

level of political rhetoric.The Labor Opposition Leader in

employment prospects of those encouraged to graduate in

the Australian federal parliament declared during his 2015

STEM fields. While all STEM fields are discussed, the main

budget reply speech that Labor would write off the HECS

focus is on information technology (IT), where graduates

debt of 20,000 STEM students each year for five years

are encountering job competition from large numbers

(Hudson, 2015).

of migrants. Chubb’s advocacy builds on a raft of reports

The Coalition Government is sensitive to this issue

from academic and research centres. One of the more

because of the collapse in commodity prices since 2011

impressive is the Australian Council of Learned Academies

and the resultant slow-down in resource investment.

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Table 1: Domestic and Overseas Undergraduate Commencements by Broad Field of Study 2009–2013 dom = domestic OS = overseas 01 Natural & Phys. Sci.

2009

2010

dom.

OS

2011

dom.

OS

2012

dom.

OS

2013

dom.

OS

% diff 09–13

dom.

OS

dom. OS

19,885

3,326

22,783

3,230

24,460

3,388

27,869

3,144

29,019

3,363

46%

1%

02 Info. Technology

6,227

6,169

6,671

6,028

7,253

5,992

7,917

5,382

8,046

5,338

29%

-13%

03 Eng. & rel. Tech.

13,215

6,037

14,182

6,515

14,710

6,482

15,489

6,082

17,107

6,626

29%

10%

04 Architecture & Bldg

5,329

1,523

5,750

1,397

6,128

1,481

6,286

1,264

6,199

1,197

16%

-21%

05 Agriculture Env & rel. Studies

3,813

470

3,959

546

3,901

585

3,848

526

4,068

496

7%

6%

06 Health – All

34,261

7,074

37,718

6,956

39,081

6,675

43,060

6,179

47,933

6,284

40%

-11%

07 Education

21,435

859

22,451

882

22,511

795

25,294

669

25,733

607

20%

-29%

08 Management & Commerce

38,201

48,623

38,201

48,615

39,624

47,488

43,609

44,762

45,424

45,216

19%

-7%

8,572

559

8,650

550

8,788

478

9,256

395

10,076

342

18%

-39%

09 Society & Culture – other fields

49,929

5,004

55,615

5,226

56,395

5,812

60,716

5,077

63,623

4,832

27%

-3%

10 Creative Arts

22,083

5,541

23,130

4,871

24,105

4,437

25,690

4,084

27,503

3,914

25%

-29%

67

698

58

579

64

445

48

158

30

108

-55%

-85%

204,879

85,044

220,104

84,608

226,837

83,301

248,510

77,032

263,073

77,727

28%

-9%

09 Society & Culture – Law

11 FHPS, 12 Mixed F & NWA Total

Source: Customised data, Higher Education Statistics, Department of Education and Training

The China boom between 2003 and 2011 had been

Table 1). Second, the employment prospects for STEM

expected to continue for years while China continued

graduates are currently poor. Nor have the advocates

with its break-neck growth trajectory.There are now fears

demonstrated that Australian-based firms have good

that China might have reached a plateau in its resource-

prospects for breaking into global hi-tech markets. This

intensive growth phase. This has prompted a frantic

article explores these two issues.

search for ‘replacement’ activities, or as it is sometimes put, the ‘rebalancing’ of the Australian economy for a post-

STEM enrolments are increasing

mineral investment boom setting. This situation has given the academic and research

Through the years 2005 to 2008 domestic undergraduate

community more leverage in putting its case. Though

commencements (in all fields) were flat. They began to

the global economy is idling, a focus on STEM training

increase in 2008,and asTable 1 shows,grew rapidly between

appears plausible because one area of thriving activity

2009 and 2013. The overall increase in commencements

is the digital revolution. As a result, the global economy

between 2009 and 2013 was 28 per cent.

appears to be on the threshold of another IT boom, like that of the late 1990s.

This increase was facilitated by the progressive removal of caps on government funding of undergraduate

Australia, as a technologically advanced nation, so it is

enrolments over the academic years 2010 to 2012 by

said, is well-placed to participate in this boom. However,

the Rudd/Gillard Labor Governments. Prior to 2010,

as STEM advocates emphasise, if Australia is to play a

universities were bound by caps on the number of places

significant role it must increase the level of training in

the government was prepared to fund for each field of

STEM disciplines.

education. These were set by Canberra-based higher

Before we advance too rapidly down this path, some of

education bureaucrats. The complete removal of these

the assumptions behind this advocacy should be tested.

caps (with the exception of law and medicine) by the

First, enrolments in STEM fields have not stalled. It may

2013 academic year meant that universities could enrol as

surprise that higher education enrolments in STEM fields

many domestic students as they wished, with per capita

have already risen rapidly over the past few years (see

funding guaranteed by the government.

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Universities were keen to recruit more students

The STEM fields mirror this decline. Some 90 per cent

because they were desperate for additional funding on

of engineering graduates had obtained full-time work in

account of the relentless winding down by successive

2008 but only around 75 per cent in 2014. Graduates in

Commonwealth governments in real funding per student

the life sciences are amongst the worst affected with just

(see, for example, University of Melbourne, 2011). For

48 per cent of those looking for full-time work being able

their part, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis

to find it by April 2014 (compared with 76.4 per cent in

in 2009, young people about to leave school have faced a

2008). For those graduating in the physical sciences the

softer labour market.As has generally been the case when

corresponding proportion was 54.9 per cent, way down

this happens, the effect is to heighten the appeal of post-

from the 84.6 level in 2008 (GCA, 2014; GCA, 2015).

school education, by comparison with leaving school and fighting for employment in a weak labour market.

In the case of computer science, 83 per cent had found fulltime work in 2008. By 2014 this share had fallen to

STEM field commencements shared in this overall

67.2 per cent. This reflects a recent slow-down in the

enrolment surge. As Table 1 shows, in the case of

demand for IT professionals (GCA, 2015).The Department

Natural and Physical Sciences, domestic undergraduate

of Employment concluded in its June 2014 review of

commencements increased from 19,865 in 2009 to

the labour market for IT professionals that there was

29,019 in 2013, or by 46 per cent – far greater than the

no shortage of IT professionals in Australia. Its survey of

overall 28 per cent increase in enrolments.

recruitment agencies indicated that there were ‘an average

Though not shown in Table 1, the contrast with the years prior to 2009 is striking. Domestic commencements

of 41.1 qualified applicants per vacancy’ (Department of Employment, 2014).

in Natural and Physical Sciences had increased slowly,

There are two broad reasons for believing the situation

from 17,708 in 2003 to 19,885 in 2009.There was a similar

will not improve in the medium term. The first is that the

pattern for engineering. Commencements in Engineering

preconditions for a flourishing innovative, high value-

and Related Technologies were 9,950 in 2003. They

added, goods and services industry sector in Australia are

increased moderately to 13,215 in 2009, then increased

not in place. The second reason is that whatever progress

by 29 per cent to 17,107 in 2013.

is made, Australian graduates, especially in the IT fields,

Even in IT, where there had been a serious decline in

will have to compete with the very large number of the

enrolments from 11,563 in 2003 to 6227 in 2009, they

overseas-born professionals who have access to Australia’s

began to rise after 2009. They grew by 29 per cent

labour market.

between 2009 and 2013 (Table 1). strong increases in completions over the next few years.

Australia’s competitive position in hi-tech fields

Job prospects for STEM graduates

As Noble Laureate Brian Schmidt has argued, in order to

The surge in STEM commencements will translate into

increase our prosperity we have to create high value-added Recent graduates in STEM fields, as with most other fields

companies. But, because ‘we have so few businesses that

of education since 2009, have faced a slack job market.

are of the high-growth, high innovation flavour, I think

The best indication of their current prospects is the

the bulk of effort needs to be directed to creating and

Graduate Careers Council annual survey. It reports on the

growing new business of a different character’ (quoted in

job outcomes for graduates as of April each year following

Hare, 2015, p. 35).

completion of their course. The latest information is for

He is surely right. There is only a tiny corporate base in

the survey conducted in April 2014. The key measure is

Australia that is capable of competing in global hi-tech

the proportion of bachelor graduates seeking full-time

markets.The third industrial revolution of the 1990s and early

work who have found such work as of April in the year

21st Century passed Australia by.Australia-based firms played

after graduation. (This metric refers to any field of work,

no role in the developments of the semiconductor industry

not necessarily in the graduate’s field of training). The

and subsequent IT hardware and software industries utilising

best year was 2008 when 85.2 per cent of all graduates

semi-conductors. As for the consumer and producer goods

(including STEM graduates) looking for full-time work

embodying these innovations, almost all the manufacturing

reported finding it. This proportion has since fallen, to

of these products has occurred offshore.

76.2 per cent in 2010 and 71.3 per cent in 2013 (GCA,

Unfortunately, there is no sign that the Coalition

2014). In 2014 it fell to 68.1 per cent (GCA, 2015).

Government is prepared to follow Schmidt’s advice.

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So far, despite all the rhetoric about selling advanced

in China are doing exactly what Schmidt has prescribed for

manufacturing and services into Asia, there has been

Australia.The major regional governments have promoted

little targeted support for these industries. Rather, the

thousands of science and technology parks in which

Government’s focus has been on negotiating Free Trade

they encourage western companies to set up branches.

Agreements with various Asian countries. The Free Trade

These companies are cajoled into linking up with Chinese

Agreements completed with Japan and South Korea and

universities and enterprises. They are required to transfer

now China, will give businesses in these countries greater

their technology, in return for broader access to the

access to Australian markets in return for opening up their

Chinese marketplace. In this way university research

markets for Australia’s agricultural commodities (notably

activities are directly linked to corporate research and

beef and dairy products) and services (Minister for Trade

productive activities (Breznitz & Murphee, 2011).

and Investment, 2015).

It follows that Asian countries are becoming quite

The Coalition Government has stuck with its mantra

capable of providing their own services and, more

that the best thing it can do for Australian enterprises is

ominously, of providing such services to Australian

to reduce government intervention (as with red tape and

enterprises and consumers. As detailed below, this is

restrictive environmental and labour market rules). In this

obvious with the Indian IT service companies, whose

stance, it is supported by both public and private sector

leading firms are now multinational giants. This is not a

economic elites.

possibility canvassed by STEM advocates in Australia.

Consistent with this position, the Coalition has reduced

Popular books like Clyde Prestowitz’s (2005) Three

funding for the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency,

Billion New Capitalists and Thomas Friedman’s (2007)

and in 2014, abolished the $300 million Innovation

The World is Flat have provided breathless accounts of

Investment Fund. As the Australian start-up industry lobby

how this surge of graduates has been translated into the

puts it, this decision was taken ‘despite [this fund] having

provision of IT services to the US.This process, as we will

been the Government’s primary means of stimulating the

see, is well underway in Australia.

creation of venture capital funds in Australia’ (StartupAUS,

Another consequence of the increased output of higher

2015, p. 7). Likewise, the Australian Council of Learned

education graduates in Asia is a spill-over of interest in

Academies notes that ‘Australia has not kept pace, and has

finding employment in developed countries, including

under-invested in catalysing and supporting its high-tech

Australia.

industries, as evidenced by the fact that we now have one of the lowest rates of startup formation in the world,

Competition for STEM jobs in Australia

and one of the lower rates of venture capital investment’ (ACOLA, 2014, p. 7). The Council goes on to assert that

Part of the difficulty that Australian STEM graduates

the linkages between university science and industry are

experience when entering the job market is that they

amongst the lowest in the OECD (ACOLA, 2014).

must compete with various streams of professional

Australian industries and consumers are avid adopters

migrants. These include migrants recruited under the

and users of ICT products that employ the latest digital

permanent entry skilled program, those sponsored by

hardware and software. Perhaps user expertise could be

employers for temporary work (457 visa holders) and

the basis for selling such services into Asia. However, the

those granted other temporary visas with work rights,

opposite could be the case. Asian countries are devoting

including overseas students who will benefit from the

enormous resources to STEM training, particularly in the

new Temporary Graduate visa (analysed below).

engineering and IT fields. The number of Asian graduates

This is not so much of an issue for the sciences and

is soaring, a high proportion of whom are in STEM fields.

engineering. However it is of huge significance for IT. As

They make up 50 per cent of graduates in Singapore, 41

is detailed in Table 2, the number of primary applicants

per cent in China and around 34 per cent in South Korea

granted visas in the permanent and temporary skilled

(AiGroup, 2015). As the Australian Government’s White

visa programs for IT professionals is far higher than the

Paper on Australia in the Asian Century acknowledges,

number of domestic undergraduate completions in IT.

one consequence is that Asia has emerged as a global innovation hub (Australian Government, 2012).

Migrants will keep coming

Recent descriptions of the Chinese effort to promote its innovative, high-value added industries reveal just how

The scale of the migrant influx reflects the rules successive

systematically the central, regional and city governments

Australian governments have put in place to regulate it.

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Table 2: Domestic and Overseas Undergraduate Completions by Broad Field of Study 2009–2013 dom. = domestic OS = overseas 01 Natural & Phys. Sci.

2009

2010

dom.

OS

2011

dom.

OS

2012

dom.

OS

2013

dom.

OS

% diff 09–13

dom.

OS

dom. OS

11,331

2,134

11,975

2,374

12,693

2,384

13,318

2,461

14,842

2,622

31%

23%

02 Info. Technology

3,137

3,859

3,036

4,112

3,212

3,976

3,191

3,766

3,416

3,656

9%

-5%

03 Eng. & re. Tech.

6,401

2,934

6,666

3,301

7,117

3,782

7,454

3,971

7,675

4,511

20%

54%

04 Architecture & Bldg

2,823

984

3,093

1,147

3,183

975

3,351

991

3,544

1,105

26%

12%

05 Agriculture Env & rel. Studies

2,037

128

1,958

237

2,142

325

2,011

384

2,107

396

3%

209%

06 Health – All

19,600

4,802

20,535

5,129

22,329

5,415

22,974

5,101

24,772

5,141

26%

7%

07 Education

12,335

1,057

11,921

667

11,302

639

11,093

532

11,913

659

-3%

-38%

08 Management & Commerce

24,232

31,134

24,368

34,608

24,868

36,525

23,660

37,159

23,922

36,893

-1%

18%

5,678

273

5,638

287

5,991

286

5,706

295

6,185

384

9%

41%

09 Society & Culture – other fields

24,481

2,478

25,170

3,040

27,694

3,438

28,507

3,586

30,205

4,372

23%

76%

10 Creative Arts

11,653

3,549

12,338

3,699

12,924

3,939

13,365

3,712

13,715

3,305

18%

-7%

37

445

18

363

27

315

14

48

15

56

-59%

-87%

115,346

53,443

117,362

58,447

123,858

61,504

125,145

61,565

131,952

62,528

14%

17%

09 Society & Culture – Law

11 FHPS, 12 Mixed F & NWA Total

Source: Customised data, Higher Education Statistics, Department of Education and Training

Since the Australian job market began to soften in 2012

The reason for this reluctance to take these occupations

there has been little government action to reduce the

off the SOL is probably that if this happened it would

numbers visaed under the permanent and temporary entry

undermine Australia’s overseas student industry (Birrell

skilled visa programs.The number of places allocated in the

& Healy, 2014). As Table 1 showed, commencements

permanent entry skilled program has actually increased,

in business and commerce at the undergraduate level

from 107,868 in 2009-10 to 125,755 in 2011-12 and 128,973

are by far the largest stream, following (distantly) by

in 2012-13. It has since stayed at this level, and at the time of

commencements in IT. The same is true for postgraduate

the May 2015 Federal Budget the Coalition announced that

by course work courses.

this will continue to be the case for 2015-16.

Nor has there been any move to cap the number of 457

Labor’s tightening of the 457 visa rules through its

visas issued. Employers can recruit as many professional

2013 legislation (including a limited form of labour

or trade workers as they please. Once here, 457 visa

market testing) had some impact. However, aside from

holders have shown a high propensity to seek permanent

engineering, there is no labour market testing in the other

residence in Australia through the various pathways open

STEM fields, including all the sub-fields of IT.

to them, especially via employer sponsorship permanent

Readers may be aware that for the permanent entry

entry visa subclass.As far as IT is concerned,Table 2 shows

points tested visa subclasses there is a Skills Occupation

that there were slightly more overseas student completions

List (SOL).This is supposed to be confined to occupations

in this field than for domestic students. Many of these

where there is a national shortage. In reality, the

overseas students too, are making use of opportunities to

Australian government has been reluctant to enforce this

stay on, including by taking up the Temporary Graduate

provision, as indicated by the fact that accountants and IT

485 visa and/or by finding an employer to sponsor them

professionals remain on the SOL, despite the judgement

on a 457 visa (Birrell & Healy, 2012).

of the Department of Employment that both occupations

It is unlikely that a softening of the Australian labour

are in oversupply (Birrell & Healy, 2014). As noted above,

market will diminish the interest of STEM graduates in

the Department of Employment continues to express this

India or China from seeking entry to the Australian labour

view for IT professionals.

market. This reflects Australia’s attraction as a destination.

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Table 3: Number of 457 visas issued for selected IT fields, by total number, total and proportion who were Indian citizens, 2008-09 to 2013-14 ANZSCO

Country of Origin

200910

201011

S

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201112

201213

201314

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2011. The numbers will escalate over the coming years because the Department

Year 200809

E

of

Immigration

and

Border Protection expects that around 70 per cent of all graduates will apply. The Department’s modelling implies

Software and Applications Programmers (2613)

India

3730

3353

4102

4354

3632

3301

All

5602

4715

5246

5388

4602

4161

% Indian

67%

71%

78%

81%

79%

79%

ICT Business and Systems Analysts (2611)

India

73

251

845

1176

1498

1238

As this summary indicates, the

that the number of 485 visa holders could exceed 200,000 by the 2017-18 program year (Senate Hansard, 2015).

All

167

447

1457

2013

2111

1795

Australian Government has created

% Indian

44%

56%

58%

58%

71%

69%

multiple

Source: Department of Immigration and Border Protection Subclass 457 – Temporary Work (Skilled) visa statistics, Quarterly Pivot Tables

pathways

for

overseas-

trained and Australian-trained foreignborn students to stay and work in Australia. As a result, migrants with

Salaries are at least five times higher (in the case of India

STEM qualifications will continue to compete with

and China) and the quality of life infinitely better. In this

domestic graduates for available professional work,

respect Australia’s attractions for STEM graduates parallel

especially in IT fields.

those of the USA where overseas graduates now play a major role in the American STEM workforce (National

The outlook for domestic IT graduates

Science Board, 2014). Beginning in 2010 the Australian government tightened

As STEM advocates are at pains to emphasise, IT skills will

the rules governing the financial resources required

be a key determinant if Australian industry is to flourish

of overseas students. It also tightened their subsequent

in the current digital revolution. Not surprisingly this

access to permanent entry skilled visas (as by tougher

discipline is at the centre of STEM advocacy. But this may

English standards) (Birrell & Healy, 2012). There was a

not be doing potential IT students any favours since they

subsequent downturn in overseas student undergraduate

face intense competition for work from immigrants in a

commencements in the higher education system (from

context where much of the professional work is being

85,044 in 2009 to 77,727 in 2013 – see Table 1). There

transferred offshore.

was a similar pattern for overseas student postgraduate by course work commencements.

IT migrants are the largest source of professionals gaining permanent entry skilled visas and temporary

The Australian government has sought to boost the

entry work visas. In 2013-14 there were 9,220 permanent

inflow again by easing up on the financial rules and by

entry skilled visas granted to principal applicants with IT

opening up access to the Australian job market when

occupations under the various skilled visa subclasses. Just

students complete their courses. Following the Knight

on half of these were for Indian nationals (Department

review into the overseas student industry (Australian

of Immigration and Border Protection, 2014). The high

Government, 2011)) the Labor Government introduced

demand for places in the skilled visa program reflects the

(in March 2013) a new post-study work stream under its

interest in moving to Australia from the huge output of

Temporary Graduate (485 visa). This allows all overseas

such graduates in South and East Asia.

students who graduate from an Australian university to stay

The temporary entry stream is just as large. In 2013-

on for at least two years with full work rights, regardless

14 8,482 visas were issued to primary applicants under

of their field of study. Under previous arrangements

the 457 program to primary applicants who were IT

graduates seeking the 485 visa had to have qualifications

professionals and managers, most of whom were Indian

in fields applicable to occupations that were listed on

nationals (Table 3). These IT professionals were mainly

the SOL. As a result, overseas student enrolments at the

sponsored by companies providing IT services in Australia.

undergraduate and postgraduate by course work levels have picked up since 2010.

This situation reflects the transformation of the IT services industry in Australia over recent years. The

At present, the numbers receiving the Temporary

emphasis has swung from internal corporate provision

Graduate 485 visa are small, because to be eligible graduates

of these services to outsourcing the work to IT specialist

must have been granted their student visa after 5 November

service providers. Competition for this contracting work

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is intense. It comes not just from domestic enterprises

submission claims that its members are transferring skills

but increasingly from overseas-based companies, most of

to Australia. It does not admit that the process is often the

whom have service centres in Asia, particularly in India.

other way. That is, while its staff are completing contract

The companies with offshore service centres are

work in Australia they are gaining information that will

advantaged in competing for IT service work in Australia.

facilitate the offshoring of the work to India. To this end,

They can draw on their (usually) India-based and in-house

Australian IT workers often find themselves training the

trained staff when bidding for contract work.They can also

457 visa holders in preparation for this offshoring.

hold out the carrot of potential offshoring of the service

The scale of this transfer is already registering in the

at a reduced price.This is crucial at a time when Australian

statistics on the official trade in services statistics. These

clients like the banks, telecommunications companies

show that for 2013, imports of computer and information

and government agencies are under intense shareholder

services and other business services from India were $552

pressure to reduce their costs.With the Australian economy

million, up from $146 million in 2011. On the other hand,

in idling mode, cost reduction strategies offer the best

the exports of such services from Australia to India were

short-term potential for increased profits.

minimal (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2014).

The overseas-based IT services providers have been granted a dream run by the Australian Government to

Conclusion

exploit their cost advantages. Once they have established branches here they are permitted to sponsor an unlimited

I share Schmidt’s hope that the Australia government will

number of their overseas personnel on 457 visas. All

promote Australian companies capable of competing in

the major IT offshoring companies that dominate the

the international market for IT services and innovations.

issuance of temporary work visas in the US (Teitelbaum,

However, there is little prospect of this happening given

2014) have established branches in Australia, including

government hostility to an activist industry policy.

the global giants, Cognizant,Tata and Infosys.

In this context, advocates need to think again about

These Indian companies make no bones about the fact

their enrolment proposals. At the very least they should

that their business model depends on unrestricted access

acknowledge the poor prospects for the required industry

to their Indian staff. This is their area of comparative

policy and take note of the situation STEM graduates now

advantage, that is, their access to a huge IT graduate

face in the Australian labour market. On the latter point

workforce willing to accept wages much lower than those

none of the advocates pay any attention to the migration

paid in Australia. The consulting work these companies

influx, especially in the IT fields.

do for Australian clients ‘requires a talented and highly

Local IT graduates who take up the advocates’

skilled workforce which can be geared up quickly when

challenge face an overcrowded job market flush with

a project is won’ (NASSCOM, 2014, p. 2). This quotation

migrants taking advantage of the permanent entry skilled

is taken from the submission by NASSCOM to the recent

program and those brought in by the computing service

Australian government 457 Integrity Review. NASSCOM

companies on temporary work visas.

is the lobby group representing these companies. The submission goes on to say that:

If IT graduate numbers do increase as the advocates propose, the response is likely to be similar to that in the

India continues to produce high numbers of very skilled ICT professionals and has greater capacity to provide pools of workers with well-developed proprietary expertise. It is for this reason that most large ICT projects undertaken by our members in Australia will involve skilled professionals assigned to Australia from overseas, and principally from India (NASSCOM, 2014, p. 2).

aftermath of dot.com collapse in the early 2000s. As work

The scale of this movement is staggering.The two main

experience difficulty in finding employment in the sector

IT skills being recruited on 457 visas are Software and

on graduation’.This is because ‘there are a limited number

Applications Programmers and ICT Business and Systems

of entry-level positions’ (AWPA, 2013, p. 14).

opportunities in IT shrank, so did Australian enrolments in IT. The Australian Workplace Productivity Authority (AWPA) has pointed out in its study of the ICT Workforce that entry into the IT profession is difficult, thus exacerbating local students’ reluctance to enrol in IT.This is because: ‘many students who pursue an ICT education

Analysts. As Table 3 shows, 5,956 visas were issued to

This situation can only get worse as the outsourcing

principal applicants in these two IT fields in 2013-

and offshoring process continues. Neither the companies

14. Of these, 4,539 (76 per cent) were issued to Indian

outsourcing their IT work, nor the contracting service

citizens. That is not the end of the matter. The NASSCOM

companies have any interest in creating more entry level

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jobs, let alone a career structure for Australian graduates. If this scenario comes to pass it will have serious consequences for any prospects of Australia becoming an innovation hub. How, in these circumstances can there be a build-up of a front line IT community capable of competing with the Chinese technological hubs, let alone Silicon Valley? As Stephen Burns (2014), an Australian computer services contractor puts it in his submission to the 457 Integrity Review, local computing staff will be handicapped in competing with overseas suppliers: Deep knowledge of the business systems is obtained primarily by the personnel working on the development, deployment and maintenance of these systems. Where development and maintenance is sent offshore or is undertaken onshore by 457 based personnel there is a much higher probability that this Intellectual Property is lost to the business when these personnel are allocated to another project in another country as the project or contracts complete (Burns, 2014, p. 2). Many measures could be taken to reduce the migrant flow. In particular, the Australian Computer Society (ACS) which is a vocal advocate for more local IT training could act unilaterally to raise the English language standards required of applicants for points tested visas before they are eligible to pursue a visa application. Most professional associations (including all the health fields and accounting) require professional level English (7 on the IELTS scale) before they will accredit applicants for points tested visas. The ACS only requires 6 which is considered to be well short of the English skills needed by professionals. For its part, the Australian government policy could act to restrict the 485 post-study visa for overseas students to shortage occupations only (as was the case before 2013). In the case of the 457 visa, it could require those sponsoring IT workers to demonstrate that no ‘suitably qualified and experienced’ Australian IT worker is available. Bob Birrell is the President of the Australian Population Research Institute (www.tapri.org.au).

References AiGroup. (2015). Progressing STEM Skills in Australia. Retrieved from http:// www.aigroup.com.au/portal/binary/com.epicentric.contentmanagement.servlet. ContentDeliveryServlet/LIVE_CONTENT/Publications/Reports/2015/14571_STE M%2520Skills%2520Report%2520Final%2520-.pdf. ACOLA (Australian Council of Learned Academies). (2014). The role of science, research and technology in lifting Australian productivity. Retrieved from http://www.acola.org.au/PDF/SAF04Reports/SAF04%20Role%20of%20SRT%20 in%20lifting%20Aus%20Productivity%20FINAL%20REPORT.pdf. Department of Employment. (2014). Labour Market Research – Information and Telecommunications (ICT Professions). Retrieved from https://docs. employment.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/ictclusterreportaus.pdf.

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Australian Government, (2011). Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program. Retrieved from http://www.border.gov.au/ReportsandPublications/Documents/ reviews-and-inquiries/2011-knight-review.pdf#search=knight%20review. Australian Government, (2012). Australia in the Asian Century, White Paper. Retrieved from https://www.corrs.com.au/assets/thinking/downloads/Australiain-Asian-Century-Issues-Paper.pdf. AWPA (Australian Workplace Productivity Authority). (2013). ICT Workforce Study. Retrieved from http://docs.education.gov.au/documents/report-ictworkforce-study-july-2013. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2014). Trade in Services Australia. Retrieved from http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Documents/trade-inservices-australia-2013.pdf. Birrell, B., & Healy, E. (2012). Immigration Overshoot. Centre for Population and Urban Research, Monash University. Birrell, B., & Healy, E. (2014). Immigration and Unemployment in 2014. The Australian Population Research Institute. Breznitz, J., & Murphee, M. (2011). The Run of the Red Queen. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Burns, S. (2014). Submission to the 457 Integrity Review. Retrieved from http://www.immi.gov.au/pub-res/Documents/reviews/stephen-burns.pdf. Chief Scientist of Australia. (2015). Speech: University of Wollongong – Opening of the Sciences Teaching Facility, 25 May 2015. Retrieved from http://www. chiefscientist.gov.au/2015/05/speech-university-of-wollongong-opening-of-thesciences-teaching-facility/. Department of Immigration and Border Protection, (2014), Permanent Entry Visa Issued statistics, 2013-14 (unpublished). Friedman, T. (2007). The World is Flat. New York: Picador. GCA (Graduate Careers Australia). (2014). Graduate Destinations 2013. Retrieved from http://www.graduatecareers.com.au/wp-content/ uploads/2014/07/AGS_reports/GCA_Graduate_Destinations_2013/GCA_ Graduate_Destinations_2013.pdf. GCA (Graduate Careers Australia). (2015). GradStats, Dec 2014. Retrieved from https://www.google.com.au/?gws_rd=ssl#q=gradstats+2014. Hare, J. (2015). Innovate or be left behind, Noble laureate warns. The Australian [newspaper] 3 June 3 2015. Hudson, P. (2015). ‘Federal Budget 2015: Bill Shorten delivers opposition budget reply.’ The Australian [newspaper] 14 May 2015. Minister for Trade and Investment. (2015). Australia signs landmark trade agreement with China. Retrieved from http://trademinister.gov.au/releases/ Pages/2015/ar_mr_150617.aspx. National Science Board. (2014). Revisiting the STEM Workforce. National Science Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/publications/2015/ nsb201510.pdf NASSCOM. (2014). Submission to the Independent Review of Integrity in the Subclass 457 Program. Retrieved from http://www.immi.gov.au/pub-res/ Documents/reviews/nasscom.pdf. Prestowitz, C. (2005). Three Billion New Capitalists. New York: Basic Books. Senate Hansard. (2015). Additional Estimates Hearing, 23 February 2015. Immigration and Border Protection Portfolio, AE 15/139. StartupAUS. (2015). Crossroads 2015. Retrieved from http://startupaus.org/ wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Crossroads-2015.pdf. Teitelbaum, M. (2014). Falling Behind, Boom, Bust & the Global Race for Scientific Talent. Princeton University Press. University of Melbourne (2011). Higher Education Base Funding Review. University of Melbourne Submission March 2011. Retrieved from https://www. unimelb.edu.au/publications/docs/uom-base-funding-submission-2011.pdf. vol. 57, no. 2, 2015


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University satellite campus management models Doug Fraser Moreton Bay Regional Council

Ken Stott Higher Education Management Consultant

Among the 60 or so university satellite campuses in Australia are many that are probably failing to meet the high expectations of their universities and the communities they were designed to serve. While in some cases this may be due to the demand driven system, it may also be attributable in part to the ways in which they are managed. The authors’ recent research suggested that the amount of freedom satellite campuses have to direct their affairs needs to be linked to their market locations and profiles. The tendency, therefore, to control everything from the centre may have an adverse effect on satellite campus effectiveness. The authors outline management models currently in use at satellite campuses, along with their advantages and limitations, and argue that universities should pay serious attention to the issue of satellite campus management arrangements. Keywords: university campuses, management models, effectiveness

Satellite campuses

of despair, with declining enrolments, programs being withdrawn, and with diminishing confidence placed in

Australia has 41 public and private universities. Of these,

them by their communities and among their employees.

33 have at least one satellite (or branch) campus. Across the country, there are at least 60 satellite campuses that

Major themes

have full-time academic and administrative staff, and this number is growing. They are a substantial component

We have visited many satellite campuses or spoken at

of the Australian higher education scene, but little has

length with the key staff. While our interest has been

been written about them, their contribution to the

broadly in their effectiveness, their management, and

communities they serve, and their role in meeting their

the major challenges they face, the conversations have

respective missions.

clustered around common themes. These relate to

Some of these satellite campuses report considerable

sustaining demand, building the right program mix,

success, with expanding enrolments and satisfied students.

and the relationship with the parent campus. It is not

Others are ticking over, doing more or less the same thing

our purpose here to discuss the first two issues, but

from year to year, and not encountering any debilitating

rather to look at how satellite campuses might best be

fluctuations in demand. However, some are on the point

organised. If they are well organised, we argue that they

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University satellite campus management models Doug Fraser & Ken Stott

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give themselves the best platform from which to sustain

itself, but it can have an adverse impact on the ability of

and increase demand, and to develop products that are

satellite campuses to do the job they were designed for.

attractive to the markets they serve.

For example, a campus may have spent years building

Our understanding of effectiveness has been formed

up trust and support from the local community and the

largely from our discussions with the heads of satellite

student numbers may have grown slowly but surely. But a

campuses, with a number of vice-chancellors and other

decision by a faculty to cut a program because of internal

senior personnel, and from our experience as former

budget priorities or lower enrolment numbers can have a

campus heads. We know that the extent to which a

devastating effect on the campus, as the community will

satellite campus is valued in its community is an important

now have less confidence in the campus to sustain the

success indicator, and so is student satisfaction. Indeed

rest of its portfolio. For a small campus, in particular, this

there are many other persuasive measures of effectiveness,

sort of decision can compromise its viability.

including the economic benefits that a campus brings to

In essence, Fraser’s (2014) analysis was about either

its community. The focus of discussions, though, tends to

control from the centre or control devolved to the local

be primarily on the ability to acquire and locally manage

campus (which we term ‘autonomy’), and a range of

resources, which translates into student numbers, staffing,

variations in between. At one end of the continuum there

funding and equivalent forms of support. Naturally,

are campuses that have no say whatsoever in how they

all these things are linked: if you give students a poor

operate, with everything arranged by the parent campus;

deal, word gets round, and sooner or later the numbers

at the other end, there are a few campuses that have

decline. With fewer students, there is less money to run

almost full control over what they do, including program

or expand programs, so it is no surprise, therefore, that

choices, teaching modes, staffing and campus services.

satellite campuses are, in large part, judged on their ability

In at least one case, the campus is called a faculty, and it

to attract and manage resources.

operates as a semi-discrete entity.

Management arrangements

Satellite campus models

Despite the best possible intentions of a university, from

Fraser’s work identified five clearly defined categories

conversations with campus heads, the management

of campus management model, based on the extent

arrangements in place are not always designed for success.

of autonomy granted to the campus head. At one end

There are probably far better ways of doing things, but

of the continuum is a model with no autonomy for the

changing from an established ‘command and control from

local operation, while at the other end is a unit that is

the centre’ model may never have entered the equation. In

effectively independent of the parent organisation. We

some cases, political tensions and forces may make it nigh

summarise these models below.

on impossible to install optimal arrangements. We have encountered such situations frequently. Fraser’s (2014) work in Australia on satellite campus management structures showed that campuses operate

The Study Centre model is a means of transacting locally with students. It has virtually no autonomy and there may be no local management. It is usually limited to a teaching-only function.

in different environments, and their structures need to

The Administrative model is the most prevalent in

be aligned to their intentions. The greater the need to

Australia. The faculties generally call the shots, and

engage with the local community, and the greater the

the campus head has little authority for the business

level of differentiation of the local market from the parent

operation, although senior personnel based at the campus

campus market, then the greater the need for freedom to

may have some influence in the local community.There is

make important decisions at the local level.

only limited control over funds and operations, and any

However, relocating power and resources to a

business risks are borne by the parent campus or faculties.

different entity can be fraught with difficulty and can

There is only limited scope for campus-specific marketing,

lead to fractious power games. This is particularly so in

and the campus head may hold a relatively low position

universities in which faculties are powerful and largely

in the university hierarchy. In some situations, centrally-

autonomous subunits. While the prevailing rhetoric may

made decisions can have a severe and adverse impact on

be about the good of the university and the students, the

the work of the campus.

reality is often about acquiring and protecting resources,

There are variations. Some afford greater latitude to the

and enhancing power bases. That is not problematic in

campus head, who may be given a degree of influence

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over business decisions, and the position may have limited

the capacity to respond rapidly to issues as they arise.

responsibility for academic staff and programs. In some

Programs can be developed with the support of faculties,

cases, the head of campus may be part of the university’s

and, in some cases, there may be control over research.

senior management group; for example, at one institution

The head also looks after administrative staff and possibly

we visited, the head was a deputy vice-chancellor, and at

support operations, such as student services.

another, a faculty dean. Recently, some universities have

An even more unusual model is the Federal Campus,

elevated the head of campus title to that of associate vice-

which has full control of academic programs and research.

chancellor. While impressive titles may be symbolically

There is still commercial accountability to the vice-

useful, they do not necessarily affect the operation.

chancellor, and the local operation must be consistent

The Matrix model places the accountability for

with the corporate brand. While the federal and campus

campus business outcomes fairly and squarely with the

faculty models are very rare in Australia, they are not

campus head. This has implications for funding and risk

uncommon in the US, and have historically proven to be

management.The campus must have an appropriate level

successful models and strongly supported by their local

of funding to be able to call the tune in relation to key

communities.

decisions about programs and other products. In return

The models are essentially defined by different

for this, the campus carries the commercial risks that

degrees of autonomy. Probably the most important area

would normally be borne by faculties. For example, campus funding may be determined in large part by student numbers (at the campus), so it is empowered to make strategic trade-offs about supporting programs with lower enrolments using

of autonomy relates to the

Probably the most important area of autonomy relates to the satellite campus business. This means the extent to which the campus head can make decisions about the programs to be offered, how they will be delivered, the costs involved, and quality monitoring.

revenue from high-demand

satellite campus business. This means the extent to which the campus head can make decisions about the programs to be offered, how they will be delivered, the

costs

quality

involved,

monitoring.

and The

prime indicator of success

programs. In this model, the

is inevitably the ability of

campus establishes a set of requirements about program

the campus to attract students and to take them through

choices, modes of delivery and teaching quality, and then

to successful graduation, so the freedom to formulate

pays for the service. The skills of negotiation, contract-

a product offer and communicate it with impact to

type bargaining and dispute resolution are central to this

the campus market is a crucial ingredient of campus

model. There is usually local marketing in addition to the

autonomy. Removing a program from a small campus

broader university marketing.

can cause irreparable damage to reputation and destroy

We have called it a matrix unit because staff have an

localised cross-program and cross-faculty synergies, but if

affiliation to both their own organisational units in the

the campus has a large degree of control of the business,

broader university and to the campus. Thus, an academic

then it can manage low-yield programs in a way that is in

staff member, while answerable to his or her faculty, must

the best interests of the campus.

also be ‘responsive’ to the demands and expectations

Heads of small campuses that operate according

of the campus head. It is true there can be tensions

to the administrative model often report that their

in such a complex relationship, but it seems to work

students receive a raw deal with regard to teaching.

well where the campus head is part of the university’s

In order to conserve resources, faculties may choose

senior management. Each faculty usually has a senior

to broadcast lectures from the parent campus, and

representative based at the campus, and support services

students at the satellite campus usually become passive

are operationally managed locally in order to provide a

viewers of screens, with less than perfect technology

highly responsive service to students and staff.

often contributing to their potential woes. Students

The Campus Faculty model is somewhat unusual,

complain that they are not receiving the sort of teaching

although there are distinct similarities with the matrix

they were initially promised and that they are treated

unit. It operates like an autonomous business unit, but also

inequitably, though having paid the same fees as their

has responsibility for academic staff. The responsibility

counterparts at the parent campus. This can put the

for quality rests solely with the campus, leading to

campus in a vulnerable position, with poor retention

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rates and local brand damage. Where a campus is given

local identity for the satellite campus.This, then, takes us

more control of teaching quality, it is easier to meet

to the matter of marketing.

student expectations. This is not necessarily a call for face-to-face teaching all the time, but rather for student

Marketing

experiences that are driven by high quality practice and expectations than by economic expedience. Where

The marketing of a small campus is often fraught with

a university chooses to offer its courses entirely online,

tension and difficulty.When marketing is dictated from the

a student is not restricted to a local campus, and can

centre, the messages and priorities can be inappropriate

indeed choose more or less any online provider. To give

for the campus’ market, unless there is a profound

genuine service to a local community, a campus has to

understanding of the distinctive nature of that market. For

provide the sort of support and quality engagement

example, the parent campus may be in a fairly affluent

that only a local entity can offer.

location, with relatively high levels of student participation

As we can see, there is considerable potential for

in higher education, whereas the satellite campus market

conflict. For example, a faculty that has to bear the risk

may be characterised by high unemployment and little

may see its operation at a small campus as a resource

tradition of higher education involvement: the marketing

drain, whereas the satellite campus sees it as a worthwhile

approaches need to be fundamentally different, while

service to its community, its raison d’être.This is where the

still communicating a singular brand message. The brand

funding methodology employed is crucially important. If

problem is often compounded by organisational subunits

the campus is given sufficient funds to run the programs

also doing their own marketing ‘thing’, which limits the

offered, it is able to balance out the high yield programs

coherence of the brand messages the university may be

with the lower enrolment programs in order to provide

trying to convey.

a broader service to the local market. In other words, sometimes retaining lower yield products is a vital part

Research

of the total product mix, which gives confidence in the campus and its place in the community. Thus, for a small

A related matter is that of research. It is usually not

campus, looking at program economic data in isolation

possible, or desirable, for the campus itself to have full

can lead to unfortunate decisions.

control over all the research conducted by academics at

The message from the above is clear: the greater the

that satellite campus, but there are benefits to be derived

level of autonomy for the satellite campus, the more able

from some locally directed research. For instance,

it is to provide the level of service that meets student

research that is relevant to the community increases the

expectations and thus to win ongoing support. Under

university profile and demonstrates a willingness to make

these circumstances, a fair measure of control over

a contribution based on a university’s unique strength. A

programs, staffing, teaching quality and marketing gives

campus head with a reasonable degree of autonomy is

the capacity to negotiate priorities and to execute them.

probably in a better position to allocate at least a modest

Despite that, some campuses work effectively as

amount of funding to research that reflects significant

simple administrative models, where everything is

priorities in the community, and these may relate to

controlled by the parent campus. This is usually because

areas such as local economic development, improving

the respective markets are essentially homogeneous,

the quality of health services, building confidence in the

so there is little differentiation between the parent

business community, and a range of equally important

and satellite campuses. In these conditions, corporate

community concerns.

branding is not problematic. Such campuses’ operations can be characterised by sameness, and this is particularly

Finally…

so where the campuses are in close proximity, with even some market overlap. However, where the

There is no doubt that operating satellite campuses

market demographics are fundamentally different, not

necessitates a fine balancing act. The right model for the

only is there a clear call for a different management

right situation does not guarantee success, but it arguably

arrangement, but the branding also needs to be varied.

enhances the chances of it. We need to be aware that all

This can become quite complex. On the one hand, there

this is not a simple rational process of understanding the

is a need to have a consistent overall university message,

nature of the relationship between a satellite campus and

but there is a commensurate need for a highly focused

its market, and then applying an appropriate management

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model. It helps to do that, but the real challenge for university executives is to manage the complex politics that come into play once power loci are shifted. It is a challenge that is fraught with difficulty, and that may explain why many universities employ a simple

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Reference Fraser, D. (2014). A Practitioner/Researcher’s Experience in Developing, Implementing and Comparing University Satellite Campus Management Models (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia.

administrative unit model even in situations where it is the least effective. Doing that, though, may impede success, and compromise both the university’s effectiveness and the capacity of a small campus to provide the sort of experience for its students, staff and local community that is at the core of its mission. Dr Doug Fraser was the project manager for the development of a new campus at a Queensland university and went on to spend eight years as its Director. He is currently helping to establish a community owned campus in Brisbane’s north. Professor Ken Stott was the head of a small campus at a Queensland university for seven years and during that time led sustained growth in enrolments and revenue. He is now a higher education consultant, with expertise in workbased learning and a particular interest in satellite campus performance.

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Are we serious about keeping women in science? Kate White Federation University Australia

Women continue to be outnumbered by men in science

the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

leadership in most OECD countries. While they are

in Melbourne, analysing the workforce profile over a five-

over-represented as PhD students in some science

year period and interviewing 40 research scientists at all

disciplines, there are few senior women scientists. In

levels. The four main findings of this research, Keeping

2014 women accounted for 63 per cent of applications

Women in Science, were: a passion for ‘doing science’;

for the Australian National Health and Medical Research

entrenched male leadership and its impact on women

Council’s (NHMRC’s) early-career fellowships, but just 11

research scientists; generational change and gender; and

per cent of its most senior and experienced fellowships.

new inclusive models that are emerging.

So what are the reasons for the absent women

Research scientists are passionate and single-minded

leaders in science? Research has identified how women

about what they do; this all-consuming focus on their work

experience both direct and indirect discrimination

was almost akin to a religious vocation.Their job satisfaction

in science laboratories. Moreover, those who wish to

came from the excitement of being at new frontiers of

combine children with careers face the ‘rush hour’ when

science, rather than financial reward. One researcher

career and family collide once they reach their early 30s.

explained: ‘This will be remembered as the golden era of

A further factor is that women can have difficulty being

neuroscience and genetics and a number of other areas of

mobile and the perception is that mobility can accelerate

medical research. It is an incredibly exciting time’; while

research careers. As well, to become an independent

another described how:‘I wake up in the morning thinking

researcher and move into science leadership requires

how I can get my kids to school so I can get to work. But

strong networks and mentoring, and there can be gender

looking forward to going to work, very much so’. What

differences. There is a belief that to become a leader

emerged from their accounts of ‘doing’ science was a view

requires ambitious scientists to publish 40 papers in high

of the ‘ideal scientist’ as a ‘monastic male’ with no other

impact journals by the time they are 40 to be awarded a

responsibility than their career; that is, the normative male

senior fellowship. If women have interrupted careers this

model of a scientist (Moir, 2006). So where are women

is hard to achieve and begs the question of whether or

positioned in science given this ideal model? My book

not science research organisations in Australia are serious

suggests that this has an impact on women scientists, who

about keeping women in science.

are generally perceived as outsiders.

To understand better the factors that impact on

A second finding was that the organisational culture was

women’s careers in science, I undertook a case study in

difficult for women. The leadership was overwhelmingly

collaboration with the Equality in Science Committee at

male, and the culture was entrenched and controlling.

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Some even went as far as to describe it as nasty. Recent

single could envisage a time when they would wish to

evidence that sexism persists in science organisational

work less and/or more flexibly when they have children.

cultures includes a reviewer who rejected a paper by two

The Gen X’s and Gen Y’s argued that more diversity

young scientists, advising them ‘to find one or two male

in the workplace led to better science outcomes. One

biologists to work with’ (Baitz, 2015) and the reported

respondent explained: ‘we want a number of different

comments of the Nobel laureate Emeritus Professor

perspectives to solve issues. So you want to recruit

Tim Hunt: ‘Let me tell you about my trouble with girls ...

from a variety of different locations around the world

Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in

or experiences, and you want to recruit a variety of

love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you

genders. So then you can get the best triangulation and

criticise them they cry’ (Beck, 2015).

ideas to solve problems. So it is in an institute’s interest

The Florey Institute, like all research institutes, operates

to have diversity’.

in a highly competitive environment, and this is linked

There was evidence that new inclusive models were

to the funding model. Senior research fellows rely on

in fact emerging. There is a strong political imperative

three to five year funding from the NHMRC. If they do

to keep young women and men in science research to

not secure this funding they cannot continue to run

increase Australian competitiveness/innovation. This is an

their laboratories and employ post-doctoral researchers,

issue with which other OECD countries are also grappling.

PhD students and research assistants. So the pressure to

But in order to make the country more competitive, the

publish in high impact academic journals is intense as high

funding model needs to be reformed. Moreover the culture

research output determines who gets funded. NHMRC

of science research institutes needs to change in order to

funding assumes that the recipients and their team will

keep younger women and men in science and to foster

all work full-time, although some part-time fellowships

world-class research innovation. There was evidence that

have recently been introduced. My research indicated

the Florey Institute supported more flexible work models

that the funding model therefore made it difficult to

for women and men, and that leadership from supervisors

negotiate flexible working conditions. Another aspect

was critical in developing these new models for ‘doing

of the organisational culture was a lack of transparency

science’. Hence, this institute has been prepared to

in policies and procedures, particularly the promotions

implement strategies to retain its young scientists.

policy. In fact, most junior researchers did not have much knowledge of the policy.

So how does Australia move forward and demonstrate that it is serious about keeping women in science? First,

The third and most significant finding was that the

research institutes must stop considering work-life

construct of masculinity on which science excellence is

balance as a personal rather than institutional issue, and

based was out-dated and that more fluid roles for women

positioning female scientists as outsiders. Second, they

and men were emerging. There was a fundamental

need to re-construct definitions of a ‘successful scientist’,

difference in the attitudes of the current science

because younger women and men are not ‘monastic

leaders – the Baby Boomers – and the Gen X and Gen

males’. Third, they need to look more closely at the careers

Ys. Both younger women and men rejected overt gender

of women in science research across the life course,

discrimination in the workplace. Younger women

particularly during the ‘rush hour’ when career and family

were challenging the gendered organisational culture/

collide and how better to support women at that critical

funding model in order to balance work/family/career

stage; and finally, they need to promote best practice

progression; and some were delaying having children.

models of supervisors and researchers negotiating how

Others asked that their decision to return to work part-

to continue with research before and after the birth of a

time after maternity leave be respected.

child, and when transitioning back to work.

Younger men were also challenging the organisational

The Australian government has a critical role in ensuring

culture. They rejected the competitive funding model

that we keep women in science. It needs to change the

and job insecurity; and many were juggling work/dual

NHMRC funding model because it does not encourage

careers/children. This generation needed to consider

flexible work options for research scientists.The NHMRC’s

not only their career, but their partner’s career, as well

recently introduced gender equity policy (NHMRC, 2015)

as parental responsibilities. Some of these men were

recognises the need to change the culture of science

working a compressed working week – that is four long

research. It aims to address the underrepresentation of

days – so that they could have one day a week at home to

women in senior research positions and applies to all

look after young children. Even those who were currently

institutions that receive NHMRC funding which must

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submit their gender equity policies to the NHMRC by the

“continues to be characterised by low levels of retention

end of 2015. These policies must include: a strategy that

and success beyond the post-doctoral career stage for

addresses the underrepresentation of women in senior

a large number of individuals with scientific advanced

positions in health and medical research; mentoring

qualifications”. Moreover, they argue that while the

and skills training strategies that promote and seek to

causes of inequality in science are known, little progress

increase women’s representation; provision of parental/

has been made at a national level over the past 30 years

maternity leave and carer’s leave, and transitional support

(Bell & Yates, 2014, p. 9).

to encourage return to work; working arrangements

The Australian Academy of Science has announced that

that cater for individuals with caring responsibilities;

it will conduct a pilot of the UK Athena SWAN program.

remuneration equity between men and women with

While this and the NHMRC equality policy are a start,

the same responsibilities; employment strategies that

there is much more to be done (Hare, 2015).

encourage the recruitment, retention and progression of

If we are serious about keeping women in science

women in health and medical research; and strategies to

research in Australia, we need a strong indication from

address the need for the provision of support for childcare.

the federal government that it understands the risk to its

If Australia is to remain innovative, it cannot afford to

innovation agenda of fewer women in science, and that

invest in educating women to PhD level and then see

it can demonstrate a strong commitment to a raft of new

them exit science. The UK already recognises that one

measures that are needed to ensure women are valued

compelling reason to tackle the problem of the under-

and can have rewarding science careers.

representation of women at senior levels in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) ‘is that

Kate White is an adjunct associate professor at Federation

the UK economy needs more STEM workers and we

University Australia, Ballarat, and Co-Director of the WHEM

cannot meet the demand without increasing the numbers

(Women in Higher Education Management) Network.

of women in STEM’ (House of Commons, 2014, p. 3), and that universities must accept responsibility for the high attrition of scientists. The Equality Challenge Unit in the UK established the Athena SWAN Charter in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. In May 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law, and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women. From 2017 science funding will be aligned to an institution’s performance in improving gender representation, especially at senior levels. The program has therefore become a catalyst for institutional change. Meanwhile, the US Office of Science and Technology Policy argues that ‘supporting women STEM students and researchers is not only an essential part of America’s strategy to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world; it is also important to women themselves’. A recently released report by Bell and Yates (2014, p. 5) argued that despite the fact that outstanding women

References Baitz, E. (2015). Sexism in science: one step back; two steps forward. The Conversation, 12th May. Beck, J. (2015). ‘Trouble With Girls’: The Enduring Sexism in Science. The Atlantic, 15 June. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/health/ archive/2015/06/tim-hunt-resignation-science-sexism/395642/. Bell, S. & Yates, L. (2014). Women in the Science Research Workforce: Identifying and Sustaining the Diversity Advantage, Carlton, Australia: University of Melbourne. Equality Challenge Unit (2015). Athena SWAN Charter, www.edu.ac.uk/equalitycharter/athena-swan/. Hare, J. (2015). Women ‘ghettoised’ in the sciences. The Australian Higher Education Supplement, 1 July, pp. 30–32. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee (2014). Women in Scientific Careers. London: House of Commons. Moir, J. (2006). Tipping the Scales: Talking About Women in Science and WorkLife Balance.Paper presented at Science Policies Meet Reality: Gender, Women and Youth in Science in Central and Eastern Europe CEC-WYS conference, Prague, 1–2 December. NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council). (2015). NHMRC announces new gender equity policy. Retrieved from https://www.nhmrc.gov. au/media/releases/2015/nhmrc-announces-new-gender-equity-policy. US Office of Science and Technology Policy (2015). Retrieved from www. whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/women. White, K. (2015). Keeping Women in Science. Carlton, Australia: Melbourne University Press.

in Australia are increasingly seen to be achieving at the highest levels and taking key roles in science, their participation in the science research workforce

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The university model is a victim of its own success Matthew Mitchell Swinburne University

There is a perception that radical change in the higher education sector is inevitable. This paper argues that the university model of higher education is fundamentally sound and by implication, is not necessarily subject to the same forces acting on other industries. If changes are to affect higher education, these are likely to come from forces seeking to capitalise on the success of the higher education model, and in doing so place the entire model at risk. This issue is discussed in relation to one real proposal as an example of the actual (rather than the perceived) threats to the university sector.

At the ‘National Forum: Curate, Credential and Carry

a failing business model, but rather the opposite. In fact,

Forward Digital Learning Evidence’ held at Deakin

I am going to argue in the following that it is the very

University on November 13, 2014, Allyn Radford from

success of the university system that most places it at risk.

Deakin Digital (a subsidiary organisation of Deakin)

But before I do that let us look at the foundations of the

pointed out that there were vast numbers of people

system and its success so far.

globally who cannot access education (Radford, personal

Universities have a tradition of seeking capable people

communication, Nov. 13, 2014; Oliver n.d.). He also

as academic staff. It is the achievements and work of these

pointed out that some students run up high loans to pay

academics that ensures the reputation of each institution

for higher education, and that some of these students also

in the global university system – and this is a system that

default on these loans.

has been subject to global forces now for hundreds of

These are legitimate concerns that Allyn Radford has raised, and they are connected to the problems associated with university business models. However, he further asserted that as a result of these problems, universities must radically change, and if they do not, it is only a matter of time before some digital disruption undermines their business model. A similar claim is made by Christensen and Eyring (2012), who point to the high cost of education

years. Perkin (2007, 159-160) states: In the interstices of power, the university could find a modestly secure niche, and play off one authority against another. Unintentionally, it evolved into an immensely flexible institution, able to adapt to almost any political situation and form of society. In this way, it was able to survive for eight centuries and migrate, eventually, to every country and continent in the world.

as one factor that may lead to disruption. I wish to tackle

Thus globalism is not a new ‘threat’ to universities –

holistically this assertion of an inevitable disruption to

although global competition and global reputation may

higher education and its implications.

have become more important as a result of cheaper travel

First, according to the metrics of business it would seem

combined with financial pressures. But let us be clear, the

that rather than being a failing model at risk, the university

financial pressures are not a result of any failed business

system is in fact highly successful. The fact that people

model, but are again a symptom of the success of the

want access to university education, and are prepared to

university system.This success has been built on the trust

pay enormous sums of money to do so, does not suggest

the community has in universities to focus on quality

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(and it is reputation that has always spurred competition between institutions). Both quality and trust grew in large part due to universities’ historic independence of business and government in relation to teaching and

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$389 million of our $987 million of student fee income comes from international student fees. Now, all of that’s just not sustainable. Forty-one per cent of our students already pay full fees and all of our students make some contribution (Alberici, 2014).

research. The universities’ and colleges’ monopoly on issuing degrees has – until recently – protected degree

On a related note, a rapid contraction of student

standards and assured that the quality of education and,

numbers might threaten many institutions, but would not

importantly, the trust of the community, has not been

necessarily threaten the system itself. The basic historical

undermined. Central to this trust is the community’s faith

model of independent, not-for-profit higher-education

in academics’ execution of their role in ensuring that

providers is as sound now as it ever was. And it is not at

research and teaching programs are independent and as

all clear that higher education will be subject to a sudden,

custodians of the long-term reputation of the institution.

unexpected digital disruption. The most likely source

Now let us explore why that model, and the community’s

of disruption is what we are already seeing: changes in

faith in the system, is under threat.

regulatory structure and profit pressures that undermine

As claimed above, the fundamental problem of the

the integrity of the system.

university sector is the attractiveness of what it offers.The

So herein lies the source of the threat to the university

value obtained from a university degree for an individual’s

system: the more successful an industry, and in particular

status, work prospects and personal development mean

the more money associated with that industry, the more it

that a large proportion of the population desire university

will attract people seeking to capitalise from that success

degrees. Thus there is pressure from the community for

for personal gain. Thus we get a flurry of international

access to be provided to as many people as possible. The

agencies building around the fringe of the university

issue then becomes: who pays for this access? In Australia

system,tapping into the student money flow and siphoning

we have sought to increase access to education for

amounts off. Financially successful organisations and

Australian citizens by taking advantage of the demand for

industries that are growing and changing also perhaps

degrees from western, English speaking universities. The

attract a particular type of entrepreneurial personality

exorbitantly high fees universities charge international

that seeks to find opportunities for career advancement

students have subsidised much of the higher education

(as suggested by Weber, 2005, see also Byler & Coff, 2003).

cost for Australians (University of Melbourne, 2011).

Currently in the university sector such opportunities

The consequent risks to Australian universities, due to

abound. Individuals can win a career by associating

their dependence on international students, has been

themselves with grand projects connected to the growth

highlighted in a recent report by the NSW Independent

of universities, or they can at least find perhaps a well-

Commission Against Corruption (ICAC, 2014). The

paying position in one of the burgeoning university

Commission (ICAC, 2014) pointed out that Australian

bureaucracies.This ‘attractiveness’ is further contributed to

universities have at least two business models: domestic

by governments that then pressure universities to find the

and international. Money from international students

funds themselves to cover the costs of offering education

has allowed Australian university campuses to expand

more broadly.Thus universities are pressured to specialise

and domestic enrolments to rise. This dependence of the

not just in education, but in entrepreneurial activities that

Australian universities on international student fees is

seek purely to make profits (Australian Research Council,

now common knowledge in the sector and evidenced by

2000).Through such processes university administrations

Dr Michael Spence, the Vice-Chancellor of the University

may become increasingly stacked with business minded

of Sydney, who stated in August 2014:

people who perhaps do not share the values and culture

There has been a massive expansion in student numbers. There’s significant under-investment in teaching and learning that’s beginning to affect the quality of Australian higher education. There’s significant underinvestment in research. We lose money with every research grant we get because you only get the direct and not the indirect costs. And we’re incredibly reliant at the moment on the international student market. For my university, about

88

traditionally associated with universities. There also are many opportunities to tap into the vast sums of money flowing through the system by building associations with the sector. Private organisations, like Seek Learning, endeavour to edge their way into the system so as to gain some share of that, with profit (not education) as the most likely prime motive. It is under these pressures that the system faces a risk of being undermined. The increasingly mercantile senior

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administration of universities is moving ideologically

of Australian society and industry? Or is this really about

further from the traditional academic. This ideological

meeting the needs of the international aspect of Australian

difference combined with the increasing relative power

universities’ business models, perhaps at the expense of

of the administration is leading to academics’ concerns

local students’ needs? How can we ever be sure of the

and academics’ control over the programs being gradually

true priorities being addressed when such decisions are

diminished.The mission of providing education is perhaps

made? Especially when we already have agencies like

seen more and more in light of business opportunities

the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption

and less in light of educational outcomes. Academics

questioning the corruptive influence of universities’

are also perhaps seen less as experts and ‘bright minds’

dependence on international student fees. The legitimacy

and more as a necessary means to business ends; those

of such questions is supported by the literature, for

ends being the shared value of the teaching or research

example, Harvey (2004, p. 1) states that:

status (and thus attractiveness) of the institution. But importantly, with differences in opinion between academics and administrators in relation to how this status should be achieved. As academics and academic values succumb to corporatism and short-term agendas, standardising agencies such as the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) and the Australian Quality Framework (AQF) Council are brought into play, enforcing externally the standards that the system can no longer sustain internally under the mercantile

Accreditation processes, it is argued, are not benign or apolitical but represent a power struggle that impinges on academic freedom, while imposing an extensive bureaucratic burden in some cases. Accreditation can also act as a restraint on innovation and run counter to pedagogic improvement processes. There is a takenfor-granted underlying myth of an abstract authorising power, which legitimates the accreditation activity. This myth of benign guidance is perpetuated by the powerful as a control on those who provide the education and represents a shift of power from educators to bureaucrats.

pressures that have been brought to bear on it. Thus an effort is made to bolster trust in the system (one

A shift of power perhaps from educators and the

straining under its own success) in an effort to maintain

needs of students and society to favour the priorities of

public confidence both locally and abroad. These efforts

bureaucrats concerned more with sources and streams

are a clear indication that substantial cracks are already

of funding? Given the fear of university administrations

starting to appear in the mighty ship of higher education.

of a ‘disruption’ to their business models and the efforts

Institutions that were once trusted on their own merits

made in attempts to allow their organisations to adapt to

are now so untrustworthy that they require compulsory

such disruptions, it may be somewhat ironic that attempts

external oversight.

to bolster their existing streams of income, by imposing

So why does this matter? Cannot the AQF ensure

the requirements of rigid external accreditations, are

quality? Perhaps not in the long term. There is a risk

more likely to diminish the ability of institutions to

that with a change to business values, quality education

innovate and adapt. However, it can be argued that

and higher social outcomes may not be sought in their

major disruptions are unlikely, particularly ones that

own right, but more because of their association with

require a change in the fundamental business model

profit. Already it is unclear whether many faculties seek

such as those expected by university administrations. A

external accreditation for quality reasons or because such

drop in international student numbers, however, seems

accreditation is being demanded by international students.

quite possible if countries like China increasingly seek

The Higher Education Base Funding Review Submission

to develop their own higher educational institutions or

(University of Melbourne, 2011, p. 6) claims that:

if changes in currency exchanges make Australia less

International students need qualifications recognised in their home countries or other places where they may seek employment and Australian students need qualifications that allow them to work overseas.

attractive. Such possibilities suggest that overly tailoring our institutions to meet the demands of international students has its own dangers. Perhaps under such business pressures, the AQF, though

But how much do Australian students really need

well intentioned, is at best a band-aid effort? A last grasp at

external accreditation to allow them to work overseas?

maintaining the contradictions in a system focussed dually

And how does meeting the requirements of external,

on providing quality education and earning the money to

international, accreditation bodies reduce the ability of

pay for it. The ‘earning money’ requirement appears to

universities to address local needs? Does it restrict the

be a potentially corrupting force on the entire system, if

ability of university courses to meet the unique needs

the objectives are for education and research unbiased

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by external vested interests. Under these pressures the AQF in relation to higher education is perhaps analogous to fables of old fashioned teachers in charge of naughty school children: someone who must be constantly active so as to stifle the children’s bad instincts and even so the children continually do whatever they think they can get away with while under the teacher’s supervision. Such children can never be trusted in the way that well-behaved and well intentioned children can be. What evidence do I have that the AQF’s efforts must eventually succumb to the power of ‘business entrepreneurialism’? Allyn Radford, making his best (and perhaps well intentioned) efforts to please the university sector’s new thirst for profit has provided at least one anecdote. Radford, as CEO of Deakin Digital, proposes offering master’s degrees without providing any education at all, but rather by awarding degrees to people based on work experience (Dodd, 2014, Feb 17; Deakin Digital n.d.) The logic is that assessment takes the least time, and thus is the cheapest part of providing education (A. Radford, personal communication, Nov 13, 2014). Thus we have writ clear before us an emerging motive of the sector: profit. Not education at all. If the AQF Council believes that it can regulate the system so as to contain this demon of profit and the associated self-interest then it is likely deluding itself. But then, as the funding policies for universities are outside the control of TEQSA and the AQF, perhaps it has no choice but to at least try. However, one only has to look at any other industry: from mining (Queensland

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References Alberici, E. (2104). Universities too reliant on international student fees. Lateline. Australian Broadcasting Commission. [Video podcast]. Retrieved from ABC: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4075107.htm Australian Research Council. (2000). Research in the National Interest: Commercialising University Research in Australia. Australian Government Publishing Services. Byler, M., & Coff, R.W. (2003). Dynamic capabilities, social capital, and rent appropriation: ties that split pies. Strategic Management Journal, 24(7): 677–686. Calomiris, C.W. & Haber, S.H. (2014). Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit. Princeton University Press. Christensen, C. & Eyring, H.J. (2012). The innovative university: Changing the DNA of higher education. In Devlin, M.E. (Ed.), Forum futures (pp. 47–53). Cambridge, MA: Forum Futures. Deakin Digital (n.d.). User Scenarios, Retrieved Feb 10, 2015 from: http://www. deakindigital.com/why-deakindigital/user-scenarios/ Dodd, T. (2014). Digital badge sets students on new course. Australian Financial Review, Feb 17. Retrieved from http://www.afr.com/p/national/ education/digital_badge_sets_students_on_new_1iN8Ytv03Y8yAfBuHxVEQM. Harvey, L. (2004). The power of accreditation: views of academics 1. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 26(2): 207–223. ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption). (2014). The international student business: risks and challenges. Corruption Matters, 44, Nov. NSW. Oliver, B. (n.d.) Digital Credentialling. Retrieved from: http://www. assuringgraduatecapabilities.com/digital-credentialing.html. Perkin, H. (2007). History of Universities, in: J.F. Forest & P.G. Altbach (Eds.) International Handbook of Higher Education, Springer International Handbooks of Education. 18:159–205. Queensland Audit Office. (2014). Report into the Environmental Regulation of the Resource and Waste Industries 2013-2014.

Audit Office, 2014) to banking (Calomiris & Haber, 2014;

University of Melbourne. (2011). Higher Education Base Funding Review Submission. Office of the Vice-Chancellor.

Yue, Luo & Ingram, 2013) to see what difficulties lie in

Weber, S. (2005). The Success of Open Source. Harvard University Press.

trying to impose contrary values and aims on a system

Yue, L.Q., Luo, J. & Ingram, P. (2013). The Failure of Private Regulation: Elite Control and Market Crises in the Manhattan Banking Industry. Administrative Science Quarterly, March 58(1): 37–68.

from outside. Dr Matthew Mitchell is a lecturer in the Department of Information Systems, Entrepreneurship and Logistics, Swinburne Business School, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia

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The knowledge economy and university workers Raewyn Connell This article is a condensed analysis of the developing sustainability crisis of Australian universities. It is based on an address to National Council of the National Tertiary Education Union, Melbourne, 3 October 2014. Thanks to all my fellow-members, who have kept my hopes for the modern university alive.

The collective intellectual

close to the profile of social privilege; if not members of the one per cent, then at least their cousins.

The modern idea of the intellectual crystallised at the

Exactly this point was made by another group of

end of the nineteenth century, in dramatic circumstances.

thinkers, beginning in late 19th century Europe, who

Captain Dreyfus, a French army officer of Jewish

diagnosed a connection between knowledge and power.

background, had been framed by right-wing officers in

The anarchist Bakunin was one of the first and most

an espionage case, and condemned by a biased military

prophetic. But the Marxist Lenin produced the most

court to prison on Devil’s Island. When evidence clearing

famous version, designing a party of intellectuals as the

Dreyfus came to light, the army refused to budge. The

vanguard of social revolution. His colleague Trotsky, who

injustice was denounced by a group of writers, most

actually led the Bolshevik coup and created the Red

famously Émile Zola, triggering a political struggle that

Army to defend it, survived just long enough to see their

ran for years.The term ‘intellectuel’ was stuck on Zola and

revolutionary party become the entrenched elite of a

his friends by violently abusive right-wing commentators

police state.Trotsky’s bitter diagnosis became the basis of

– the ancestors of Murdoch’s bloggers and columnists.

a whole genre of 20th century ‘new class’ theories, where

Paradoxically it became a term of pride.

intellectuals were seen as power holders, contenders for

The image of the intellectual created in that moment still has some vitality: a creative, radical individual who

power, bearers of power/knowledge, or essential cogs in a new technocracy.

‘speaks truth to power’, who thinks publicly about large

What gave force to the idea of technocracy was the

issues of society, justice or survival. Projecting forward,

rising military and economic importance of science, in

we think of Chomsky, Sartre or Solzhenitsyn; projecting

the era of atomic weapons and automation, and a great

backward, we think of Galileo, Marx or Tolstoy.

expansion of the workforce involved in producing and

That’s not a bad heritage to have. But it has its limits, quite

circulating knowledge – researchers, teachers, technicians

apart from the health risks of chain-smoking Gauloises

and knowledge-based professions of all kinds. Starting in

in Left Bank cafés. Most of the creative individuals who

the United States, higher education was transforming

fit this bill seem to be urban, middle-class White blokes

from a small elite concern to a mass education system

resident in Paris or, more recently, Boston. Uncomfortably

supported by the state. By the end of the 20th century

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it was common to speak of a ‘knowledge economy’ and

and circulating knowledge. And those questions have

‘knowledge industries’. The size of the university system

become urgent, in the face of powerful pressures that are

was now seen as a measure of any country’s modernisation,

narrowing the institutions, dividing the workforce and

and metrics were invented for research output. New

commercialising the networks.

forms of competing and boasting appeared with them: at one university I have visited, there are specially-marked parking places for the cars of Nobel Prize winners.

Australia’s place in the global economy of knowledge

This could only happen because old forms of higher education had radically changed. The research university,

Australian universities go back to a couple of small

invented in 19th century Germany and expanded in the

institutions launched in the mid-19th century. It was a

20th century United States, became the global model.

bit surprising that the raw and violent settler colonies

By the end of the 20th century, information technology

in the Great South Land should give birth to universities,

was turned back on the knowledge system that had

but these institutions were not much like the new model

produced it: universities, libraries and disciplines were

in Germany. They weren’t expected to produce new

computerised and increasingly integrated through the

knowledge. They were certainly not to learn anything

Internet. The crucial bearer of knowledge now is not the

from the Aboriginal inhabitants. Their job was to transmit

lone scholar poring over manuscripts by candle-light, but

the knowledge system of bourgeois Europe to the young

the massive remote-access database.

gentlemen who were going to manage the colonies within

What this means is that in 21st century conditions, an

the British imperial system.This, by and large, they did. An

individualist model of the intellectual – heroic or sinister

academic workforce was imported from England, Scotland

– is out of date. Knowledge in our time is mainly produced

and Ireland, and trained local engineers, doctors, lawyers,

and circulated collectively. This doesn’t only mean that

administrators and teachers. Research was effectively

large teams and expensive machines are important, though

a hobby, apart from the data-gathering undertaken for

that is true enough – and a major reason why organised

development purposes by the colonial state.

knowledge is still dominated by the rich countries of

That changed decisively around the 1940s, in the midst

the global North. Think of the Large Hadron Collider, the

of a profound shift in national development strategy. An

Human Genome Project, or the Intergovernmental Panel

industrial economy and a welfare state were now being

on Climate Change. Even individual researchers, of whom

built. First Labor, in the agenda of post-war reconstruction,

there are many, depend on an international industry

then the new Liberal Party led by R G Menzies, committed

of publishers, journals and conferences, software and

to an expanded public university system. Not only an

websites, grants and fellowships.

expanded system, but one with a serious research capacity,

More important, contemporary researchers normally

beyond the remit of the CSIRO. That was the original

work in big organisations, and that environment gives

rationale for creating the ANU, and the other universities

them their oxygen. About half of the workforce of

quickly followed suit in expanding research.

modern universities are not academic staff. On their

By the end of the 1970s a strikingly homogeneous,

technical, administrative and financial work, and on their

centrally-funded and Australia-wide system of research

commitment to their jobs, the production and circulation

universities had been built. The academic workforce was

of knowledge absolutely depends. Modern knowledge

gaining the capacity to sustain itself, by the expansion

systems are built on complex divisions of labour and

of doctoral education. The non-academic side of the

extended workforces. Individual creativity and initiative

workforce found stable public-sector conditions of

are still there, and still vital, but operating through a social

employment. This system remained socially selective: it

machinery – above all, through cooperation.

had few Indigenous students, few working-class White

Contemporary intellectual work, then, depends on a

students, and few recent migrants. The main change in

collective intellectual: a workforce, a set of institutions,

social composition was the rising number of middle-class

a network of cooperation. And that poses new questions

White women. The curriculum reflected fewer British

for people concerned with the future of universities.

and more US influences, gave a larger place to the natural

Formerly, considering the future meant polite discussions

sciences, but remained Eurocentric.

of the humanist curriculum and the Educated Man. We

Australian capitalists, notoriously, invest little in research.

now face more radical questions about how to sustain

They rely on a global economy of knowledge: import the

the workforce and sustain the social process of producing

technology they need, buy the political campaigns they

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need, and have few other cultural concerns. Twentieth-

of international capital. The profit-making corporation

century modernisation in Australia required a publicly-

became the model for public sector organisations.

funded research capacity, and the investment gradually

In the late 1980s and early 1990s Australian higher

bore fruit. Recently the boast could be made that Australia

education was restructured under this ideology, now

produces 3 per cent of the world’s research, going by

shared by Labor and Coalition parties. Universities and

publication counts. Just as in tennis and swimming, we

colleges were amalgamated in an amazing free-for-all

are punching above our weight.

that cast vice-chancellors as competing entrepreneurs in

Practically all of that output, however, is within

takeover battles. The university sector was thus opened

paradigms imported from the global North. We certainly

to a wider social range of students, as Dawkins, the Labor

produce lots of empirical findings, which are fed into

Minister who launched the restructure, intended.

databases and journals. Our researchers are rewarded

But the democratic possibilities in this moment

for ‘international’ publication, we are not parochial. But

were immediately undermined by three other parts

that doesn’t mean publishing in Brazil or Bangladesh. It

of the strategy. One was the re-introduction of fees, on

means Western Europe and North America, where the top

the neoliberal ‘user-pays’ principle. The second was

journals in the citation counts are published, and that’s

policies that forced universities, instead of working

where Australian researchers head for advanced training

together, to act like firms competing against each other

and recognition.

for funding, students, and

The global economy of knowledge is qualitatively as well as quantitatively unequal. Developing methods, the

concepts and

global

and

organising

accumulation

Both government policy, and the interests of the new managers, thus re-shaped universities as neoliberal businesses, gradually being eased from the public into the private sector.

of data, is the role of the global

centre;

prestige. The result was a growing stratification within the

sector,

consciously

pursued by the self-selected ‘Group of Eight’. The third, and

probably

the

most

important, was the growth of

importing

a powerful managerial elite

concepts and methods and exporting data to fit them

inside all the universities. This was increasingly modelled

is the role of the global periphery. Australian politicians

on management in the transnational corporate world, and

like to pretend we are part of the mighty West. But in the

increasingly recruited from corporate business.

realm of knowledge we show exactly the pattern that the

Both government policy, and the interests of the

philosopher Paulin Hountondji has identified in Africa

new managers, thus re-shaped universities as neoliberal

and called ‘extraversion’, i.e. dependence on authority

businesses, gradually being eased from the public into the

from outside your own society. However skilful individual

private sector. The proportion of university funds provided

researchers are, Australia’s university system has not

from the federal budget has fallen drastically (from about

developed an autonomous capacity for theory. It does

90 per cent to near 40 per cent), while in the same years

not produce new shared paradigms for thinking about

managerial salaries have risen spectacularly – we now have

society, nature or survival. Indeed, it hasn’t even produced

vice-chancellors on packages of a million dollars a year,

its own viable concept of a university, as the recent trends

including bonuses, and there is no ceiling yet.

in policy reveal.

Universities controlled by corporate-style managers and acting like firms were able to find a new place in

The crisis of sustainability

the Australian public realm and in the global economy of knowledge. I don’t think it was part of the Dawkins plan

During the 1980s another basic shift in development

to turn universities directly into an export industry, but

strategy occurred. The new doctrine is internationally

that’s what they became in the 1990s and 2000s. Faced

known as ‘neoliberalism’, an unfortunate name as there

with declining government support, university managers

is nothing very liberal about it. For Australia, it meant a

found their most lucrative customers were overseas

shift from state-supported industrialisation and public-

students, who could be charged much higher fees than

sector growth to free-market ideology, a steady squeeze

local students. And governments had their backs covered:

on public services, and a turn back to export industries as

if the country’s universities could tap an overseas

the engine of growth – especially large-scale mining. The

funding source, they wouldn’t embarrassingly collapse.

Australian economy was de-regulated and opened to flows

So managements and governments together became

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entrepreneurs in the global boom of commercial higher

failed to create conditions where the collective social

education. The basic idea was to cash in the splendid

resource represented by universities can be reproduced

collective resource created by public investment, and the

over time.That’s what I call a crisis of sustainability.

hard work of university staff, over the previous fifty years.

I think there is a widespread sense among university

Hardly any new investment was required – as an export

staff that something has gone deeply wrong.The growing

industry, it was better than iron ore!

inequality within universities, the new techniques of

But there are costs to all this; and following sound

surveillance and control, the periodic outsourcing,

neoliberal logic, the costs are supposed to be borne by the

restructuring and forced redundancy, are producing a

customers and the workers.The fees charged to domestic

level of distrust and alienation that is qualitatively new.

students have steadily risen, and the managements are

The Australian university as an institution no longer

now trying, in collusion with the Coalition Government, to

trusts the professionalism and commitment of its staff.

deregulate them completely. Dependence on fluctuating

Industrial democracy in universities has declined steeply,

overseas demand has made university planning erratic,

as managerial prerogative has risen. Surveillance and

has shifted resources into easily saleable degrees and

accountability mechanisms, now usually on-line, have

starved other areas of the curriculum, and has created an

multiplied.

enormous incentive to rely on marketing hype and skimp

All too often, the accountability is a fake. Staff sadly

on the solid, and expensive, educational follow-through.

learn to produce the appearance of compliance, while

The complaints we have been hearing from overseas

managers produce the appearance of ‘consultation’

students are not trivial.

with actually no democratic accountability downwards.

Meanwhile the workforce in Australian universities has

Meanwhile the institutions have created a whole

been increasingly subjected to modern corporate methods

marketing and public-relations machinery, to present

of labour discipline. One favoured strategy is to fragment

a glossy, fictionalised facade to potential students and

the workforce, by outsourcing parts of the operation:

potential employees. (How many marketing brochures

printing, ICT support, security, and more, have gone this

and websites now picture Australian universities as

way. At the University of Sydney even our Research Ethics

anything other than sun-drenched holiday resorts full of

procedures are now controlled by a website bought from

happy students and beaming staff?). For an institution

a corporate vendor! Another strategy is to lower labour

whose deepest rationale is its concern with truth, whose

costs by casualising the work. The university managers

claim on social resources is that it will grapple with the

don’t publish these data, but the NTEU estimates that

tough issues and do the hard work required for the most

about half the undergraduate teaching across Australia is

advanced forms of knowledge, the neoliberal turn and

now done by casual labour. Yet another strategy involves

managerial takeover are building up a cultural disaster.

‘performance management’ regimes. These have grown more elaborate as mechanisms of surveillance, relevant

What can we do?

inter alia for choosing ‘underperforming’ staff for forced redundancy, and have the especially useful effect of

This analysis implies that we are in for a long-term

obliging staff to monitor themselves, and report their

struggle. Corporate management is now entrenched in

performance to their managers.

universities, has political backing, and claims to speak

What has been overlooked in the policy world is

for the sector. (The media commonly report the Vice-

the cumulative impact of the neoliberal turn on the

Chancellors’ mouthpiece, ‘Universities Australia’, as ‘the

workforce, knowledge systems and culture of universities

body representing Australian universities’, an Orwellian

– the impact on the collective intellectual, in the terms I

triumph.) Opposition parties in Federal Parliament jibbed

suggested earlier.

at the 2014 fee-deregulation moves, but are not criticising

Casualisation, and job insecurity more generally, is

the current level of fees, the back-door privatisation, the

bad for any workers but specifically undermines the

managerial elite, the milking of overseas students, or the

sustainability of an intellectual workforce. If four or five

insecurity of much of the workforce.

years of a PhD lead mostly to years of hand-to-mouth

Nor, to tell the truth, has either major party in

struggle, if half our undergraduate teaching is done by

Parliament thought beyond the current neoliberal model

people who don’t have time to prepare it properly, if

of dependent economic development, though that model

we drastically undermine the morale of those workers

has always been socially divisive, massively polluting,

on whom our intellectual future depends, then we have

and is now plainly in trouble with the fall in global

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commodity prices. Australian universities have a limited

experience. Despite a generation of market ideology,

future as an export industry, as higher education systems

there is still solid popular support for public higher

expand elsewhere; we were given a sharp warning by

education. The ‘knowledge economy’ is, so far, a myth

the financial crisis of 2007-08 but precious little policy

in Australia so far as power-holders are concerned. Our

rethinking followed. One of the most useful things

dominant businesses invest very little in knowledge

universities could do for themselves would be to launch

creation, and our governments have been dis-investing

a sustained investigation of other socio-economic futures

in higher education. Yet there is a social recognition that

for the country, and the role of knowledge institutions in

knowledge is important. Education always appears as one

those futures.

of the top concerns in public opinion polls, and the flow

It is important that we appreciate the intangible wealth already in the university system – what organisation charts

of students wanting higher education continues and is socially diversifying.

call the human resources. Universities can get by without

Knowledge of the natural world, of culture and of

the millionaire managers and the gleaming tower blocks;

our own society, and an education system up to its

we cannot get by with a demoralised or disintegrating

task, are needed for a democratic future. The collective

workforce. It’s the commitment of a diverse workforce to

labour required to support, disseminate, and grow that

make a complex knowledge institution work that allows

knowledge is above all the job of university workers. This

the modern intellectual project to continue. There is an

is not a comfortable trade to be in, right now; but it is an

occupational culture here that embeds the passion for

essential one.

knowledge, and makes workers of all kinds proud to be working specifically for a university. In our day, the vital

Raewyn Connell retired from her University Chair in the

custodian of that occupational culture is the union. I’m

University of Sydney in July 2014.

very glad the NTEU has been sponsoring discussions of teaching and learning, and reflecting on the future of the sector, as well as tackling immediate industrial issues. This culture is already being tested in protective industrial struggles, and we have had some success. The strategic problem is to turn the pride and the worry into a positive agenda for rebuilding universities. Here, I think, we have a great hidden asset, because there have been continuing efforts to work beyond the managerial framework.There are many local attempts to democratise workplaces, teaching, and the process of knowledgemaking. Often these innovations link university staff to communities outside the walls, expanding knowledge projects

beyond

the

disciplinary

framework. It’s

important to document, publicise and build on this

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

Some background resources Forsyth, H. (2014). Dreaming of higher education. Southerly, 74(2), 119-149. A beautifully written, reflective essay on the current situation in Australian universities and academic staff’s responsibilities. Her History of the Modern Australian University (NewSouth Publishing, 2014) is essential for the deeper background. Hil, R. (2012). Whackademia: An Insider’s Account of the Troubled University. Sydney: NewSouth Publishing. This is a lively and well-informed polemic with lots of sharp insights into the organisational craziness. Australian Government. (2012). Australia in the Asian Century. White Paper. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. As a major example of neoliberal thinking about education and global relations, this cynical and cliché-ridden document, produced under the previous Labor Government, is very revealing. Connell, R. (2011). Confronting Equality: Gender, Knowledge and Global Change, Sydney: Allen & Unwin. Chapters 5, 6, and 8 give the background to my analysis of intellectual labour, neoliberalism and global knowledge structures.

The knowledge economy and university workers Raewyn Connell

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The new broom A fiction for our times with true quotes Arthur O’Neill

A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Proverbs, 6: 12-14

Trouble was soon to follow on his arrival. The university’s top marketing man told António that he needed to do something quickly to match advertising by competing institutions. He suggested and António agreed to a campaign built around an invitation to ‘Discover the difference’ at the University; and advertisements for staff

António Coimbra, the first vice-chancellor of an

and students, banners for open days, even disposable

Australian university to come from Portugal, was well-

plates in the cafeteria bore these words. Then a stirrer

equipped for the job. In his elegant application, António

left over in an academic bolt-hole found that a funeral

played up to expectations that candidates should be

director used the adjuration as slogan. Wits made much

able to demonstrate ‘>Outstanding communication,

of the discovery: a graffiti artist sprayed ‘undertake the

interpersonal and persuasion skills …’ and ‘>High-level

debt’ on a sandstone wall of what used to be called the

management, financial and fundraising expertise’. Two

Old Arts building; and another, suspected of being from

doctorates from north European universities – ‘Endocrine

the Medical School, put ‘coffin won’t bring up the fees

secretions and polar bear mating’ (Bergen/Spitsbergen)

phlegm’ on a side of the anatomy lab.

and ‘Heidegger’s influence on the formation of Japanese

What was to be done? António, taught to turn every

aesthetics’ (Freiburg) – impressed the two deans on the

disadvantage into an opportunity, called the university’s

search committee: António had the right combination

slogan an apophthegm (earning plaudits from rarefied

of credentials, salving their respective worries that the

minds); and changed it to ‘Be the difference’ which

anointed candidate might lean one way or the other. A

suggested existential propulsion rather than post-mortem

search consultancy, Eagles & Onions, was more impressed

apprehension. Then he moved out the marketing flack,

by António’s mid-life MBA from an esteemed American

upped the monetary ante and invented an astral title

Business School. Its executive director told the consultants

for a new bunny: Vice President, Division of People and

that António had shone by investigating the beneficial

Advancement.António knew that the thing to do was cast

effect of demolishing silos in the higher education system

a wide net with an open weave: ‘This is a new position

of a former Soviet republic. The consultants advised that

which will be a pivotal role [sic] in the … Executive

new leaders of that country had embraced António’s

team as the University embarks on the next phase of its

conclusions and, further, had adopted them for health

development locally, nationally and internationally.’ The

care and public transport reforms. Eagles & Onions had

ideal candidate combined the grasp of a field marshal

tested local stakeholder feelings at the highest political

(‘proven leadership skills in the development of high

and business levels, finding that a new era in relations

level strategy and policy’) with the touch of a private

with the University could issue from appointment of this

(‘a particular focus on the student experience, student

candidate. The unanimous recommendation to Council

lifecycle’); and – parenthetically – ‘promotion of the

was that António get the job.

university’. Not only did the role require ‘the capacity

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to work effectively across the entire organisation with

roles.Thus the ‘position’ of Professor of Marketing was said

a strategic and collaborative outlook’ but also a baptism

to be ‘responsible for conducting high-quality relevant

by total immersion was prerequisite: ‘The successful

and impactful research in marketing …’. Having an impact

candidate will be someone who identifies strongly with

on stakeholders in business was accomplished by inviting

the University’s mission, history and commitment to

expressions of interest in twelve part-time ‘Professors of

students, staff and the region’.

Practice’ positions in the School.

The one chosen to lead a university will start by

The general plan was to ruffle feathers in the academic

framing another design for it, that is, by getting in quick

dovecotes and make changes stick with selective

before being obliged to face mounting tides of reserve

inducements. António’s next steps were to consolidate a

about purposes and credibility. A public relations disaster

Praetorian Guard and to reward the loyalty of its members

became occasion for António to institute a root-and-

with the donation of subordinates. After a review of

branch review of organisational structures. There could

executive ranks, assisted by Eagles & Onions, the word

be no better place to start than by cobbling-together a

went out that: ‘Following the recent appointment of

new school, the one he called School of Communication

its new Vice-Chancellor … [the University] wishes

and Arts; and within that, to bring in new blood in (what

to strengthen its leadership capability with four key

else?) public relations. So it was that the University sought

appointments to its senior executive team.’ Looking after

a Professor and an Associate Professor in Public Relations.

research was getting too much for one senior executive

The advertisement started by masking the school’s

to handle, so throw in a Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research):

combination of a hotch-potch with a deep perception:

‘Supporting the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), she/

Despite the diversity of our disciplinary mix, the two parts of our name points [sic] to a unity: the acknowledgement that creative expression has to communicate and that every act of communication is expressive.

he will have executive responsibility for a portfolio that spans [the University’s] international research strategy, research partnerships, grants management and research ethics and safety compliance.’ He/she would be rewarded

Mentors in the United States had demonstrated to

in turn: ‘The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) will also

António that just about any old scrap can be deemed

provide strategic leadership to a large team of professional

admissible to the sacred precincts by invocation of the

staff.’And there was another ‘key strategic leadership role’:

word ‘scholarship’: We are seeking leaders in Public Relations scholarship to develop our research reputation and our teaching program … We aim to educate the standard bearers for the profession of Public Relations with a global focus and to enhance the research field of Public Relations and strategic communication with an international perspective.

As Director of Research Strategy, you will drive strategic research development to ensure the University enhances it’s [sic] research profile and increases the level, quality and diversity of research funding. This Director ‘will lead the staff of the Research Strategy Office’. It was just as well that no-one in these arrays was expected to do research. That would have resulted in the appointment of too many research assistants.

As a further preliminary to hunting big game, António

Add a Senior Adviser to the Office of the Deputy

dabbled in the nether reaches. When a professorship

Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Academic): ‘… the

in philosophy was up for grabs, a dolt from Exercise

position of Senior Adviser is responsible for providing

Science asked an applicant what philosophy was, and she

high level executive and management support to ensure

explained that it was what you were thinking about when

that the work of the portfolio is managed efficiently

you were thinking about yourself thinking.The frisson he

and its strategic priorities are achieved in a timely and

experienced on hearing that settled António’s preference.

effective manner.’ Don’t forget the place of education in

The University needed a zest of postmodernism in its mix.

the university’s mission statement. Have a Deputy Vice-

Staff would be kept on their toes, and provided with a

Chancellor (Education and Students). Add an Assistant

target other than the Vice-Chancellor.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) and give punch to

Reforms did not end there. With many having taken scholarship a little too seriously and so losing relevance, or ‘impact’ as António was wont to call it, the Business School needed gingering-up. While appreciating that it was people who did things (as he did), António’s copywriters kept to the illusion that positions acted and had vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

that job: Teaching and Learning is a key strategic priority area, and the university is currently undertaking large-scale transformation in student learning (Learning 2014), thus distinguishing itself as a world-leading university of technology.... The new broom Arthur O’Neill

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... Your demonstrated track record will include driving cultural change and engaging others in a vision and direction to deliver and implement strategy. Your comprehensive understanding of current issues affecting the higher education sector, international postgraduate education and the online learning environment will underpin your ability to leverage online resources to enable innovations in teaching and learning that will enhance the student experience and performance.

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seven Research Centres, and is comprised of eight Schools and Colleges across five campuses’; and ‘The Group hosts several areas of Strategic Investment – Criminology with a Focus on Crime Prevention, Music, the Arts and the AsiaPacific Region, and Education.’ Another of those malcontents who fester in the halls of academe defined ‘hybrid system’ as the system you have when you don’t have a system. If not a system, dissidents voiced a hidden agenda: to foster divisions,

Eagles & Onions had identified Deans as managerial

the better to govern.António countered by asserting that

hitches in the chain of command. Years earlier, a former

hybridism promoted healthy competition. He had toyed

dean had written about the ‘contradictory structural or

with making some alphabetical combinations (such

authority relation’ of the role:

as putting together chiropractic, chiropody, classics,

The dean is both champion of the troops (faculty members) and their claims, and key figure in the larger management structure, at the point where senior management and Mission meet the essential educational purposes of the university. As we all know, it is hard to serve two masters, and consequently deans tend to become protectors of their own realm or mouthpieces of central authority, or to move backwards and forwards across no-man’s land, sometimes under fire from both sides simultaneously, unable to wave a red or even a white flag convincingly in either direction. Living a conflictual role, the dean sees but can rarely resolve the educational and organisational crisis of the modern university. António had a better idea than helping deans to solve their conflictual roles: get rid of deans by getting rid of faculties. Herd incumbents into cowpats like the School

criminology and Celtic studies), then gave up the idea. Competition was fine but he did not want to create a nest of hornets. Long before all this juggling with nomenclature, the departed dean had seen through yet-to-come reforms: People hide in the hierarchy, avoiding proper professional and open relationships with the developing subaltern class ... … One form which the new management may take is that of a kind of Boy’s Club, a congenial group helping cocoon the Vice-Chancellor from the actual world he inhabits. Providing accounts of the world which make him feel good, they become primary sources of the misinformation which prevents understanding within the vice-chancellories. They are flawed and sometimes devious conduits.

of Communications and Arts. Or, pulling another rabbit

António knew that could happen. He saw through

out of his hat, António turned five faculties into two

but used sycophants; and a rule of self-preservation set

Colleges, each run by a Pro Vice-Chancellor ‘who reports

him against ever becoming the patron saint of their lost

directly to the Vice-Chancellor’; and, of course, they had

causes. Internal causes, that is. To deal with ‘the external

Associate Pro Vice-Chancellors reporting to them, as did

environment’ he needs must make common cause with

a ‘Head of School Education’ [sic] ‘who reports to the Pro

his nominal ruler, the Chancellor, with most other vice-

Vice-Chancellor [of the College of Arts, Social Sciences

chancellors, and preferably with all of those at top-drawer

and Commerce] and will be ‘joining [the University] at a

universities (for António had his future employment to

unique and exciting time’.

consider). Happily, he and the Chancellor read from the

But with the flair that marked him out as riding on

same page, which was not surprising since António had

a new organisational wave, António kept one of his

been steered to his present eminence by he who chaired

predecessor’s attempts at modernity – an Executive

the Search Committee and the Council. The Chancellor

Dean of Human Sciences. Why have an Executive Dean

was on record as believing ‘that in time a deregulated

when other disparate tribes gathered under the banners

market would force greater transparency, competition

of Pro Vice-Chancellors? António explained that Human

and quality’ on universities. His cheering faith extended

Sciences was a hybrid faculty (‘distinctive in its unique

to considerations weighing on the minds of potential

combination of teaching and research strengths in health,

students: ‘With the wealth of information there will be

education, hearing, mind and language’). He preferred a

less reliance on world rankings driven by research’; and,

hybrid rather than a unitary system of organisation for

in the event of deregulation, he is reported to have played

the University. He had even created a Dean, Academic

down the prospect of Group of Eight universities being

(responsible to a Pro Vice-Chancellor) for another

able to leverage their prestige to charge high prices. The

invention, what António called a Group:‘The Group hosts

Chancellor explained:

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To date, with no price differential, students have generally followed the brand without too much question, but with the introduction of price competition it is potentially a new ball game … For the researchintensive universities, the competitive pressure of the market will demand that there is substance to back up any price premium that they seek to apply and there is a tangible limit to the price elasticity that the Australian market will accept.

with boxed sets of silver cutlery did not go for those

Ah, brave new world that hath such chancellors in it

networking of universities, leading to shared rather than

to prognosticate about what markets think and do: ‘He

duplicated material resources and courses of study; giving

said the market can be expected to be sophisticated

priority to jointly-proposed research projects; reducing

in weighing up student outcomes, and the relevance

the centralisation of power and the hordes of deputies,

of courses, and students would be helped by the likely

pros, assistants, advisers, market spinners and weavers. In

growth of entrepreneurial websites providing information

short, to supplant the god of competition and to strive

on courses and fees.’ So there is to be an increase in the

for reforms deserving of the name: the realisation of

price premium? That would be of mutual benefit.‘He said

collective purposes.

the lack of a price signal created complacency in teaching and learning.’

only way left to fund education quality to a reasonable standard. These were slippery arguments. What went for places reliant on wooden spoons. Straw men were set up to be knocked down. There were other unmentioned choices like: compacts to maintain standardised, nation-wide and cost of living adjusted fee levels; a co-operative

If you caught António in his cups after dinner with a bottle or three of 1994 Quinta da Pellada from the Dão

Verily, António might say unto you that a Skinner box

region, he could be scathing about another university

is the best model for higher education. Instead, he stood

that boasted of ‘being known for its entrepreneurial and

shoulder to the Chancellor’s shoulder, while expressing

“can do” culture’. In raised voice he said that such brash

the same desired result in dulcet terms. That damned

institutional self-promotion aligned universities with firms

external environment was to blame, namely actions taken

hawking rubber goods. Things were different, infinitely

by successive federal governments. Deregulation was

better back in the home-town university when he had been

necessary to cover the fiscal gap caused by reductions

an undergraduate student. True, many teachers kow-towed

in the percentages of running expenses met by their

during the decades-long ascendancy of an authoritarian

subventions. What was a rent boy to do but charge what

state regime (whose leader had graduated and taught at the

the market would bear? As a fellow vice-chancellor said,

same university). But after its fall, and in António’s time, the

things were crook:

institution went back to formal espousal of liberal virtues,

Australia shares this trend with other nations. Direct public funding at Oxford in 2013-14 met just 16 per cent of running costs. The University of California, Berkeley, received less than 15 per cent of its income from base funding. Yet Oxford and Berkeley retain the goals, ethos and culture of public universities – as do their Australian counterparts.

letting him get away with all manner of dereliction. The idealist of those days had long since turned into a realist man-of-the-times. A reluctant pragmatism, represented as vision, had helped get him the job. A morning sky saw António back as vice-chancellor.‘The world, it was the old world yet,/ … /And nothing now remained to do/But begin the game anew.’ On a sunrise jog

The reasons why ‘vice-chancellors support aspects of

to work, he passed a large sign attached to the railings of a

an unpopular deregulation agenda’ were: ‘The current

cemetery:‘Limited premium graves available.’That set him

settings are unsustainable’ because maintenance of the

alight. Why not sell premium enrolments? Bring back the

status quo would lead to continued declines in teaching,

sense of exclusivity that marked university attendance?

research and student support; an ‘unprecedented boost in

Charge a special corporate rate, offer additional benefits:

public outlays’ in higher education implied ‘a major shift

reserved library and lecture room seating, fast-track

in public opinion, and a willingness by government to

degrees, a platinum student card, frequent scholar points,

contemplate higher taxes’ – running ‘counter to the trend

discounts for university merchandise (caps, beer coasters,

of the past 40 years, and against trends in comparable

tee shirts, ties, etcetera). Throw in a complimentary set of

nations’; and so on to the conclusion:

learning aids.

Current funding rates mean the tertiary education offered to Australians at times falls short of global practice. In the absence of public appetite to invest in public education, a measure of fee deregulation is the vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

Further along, António jogged past another sign: Saint Mary of the Cross Gallery of Angels Mausoleum Crypts now available. The new broom Arthur O’Neill

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That fired him up anew. Why not build Japanesestyle tube hotels on under-utilised garden areas around colleges and halls of residence? (Memo to self: make sure that they are not only for Asian students). Another thought entered António’ thinking about entrepreneurial possibilities. The sign also said: ‘Featuring the gallery of Angels from Rome’s Ponte Sant’ Angelo’. The University was loaded with theme-based courses so why not offer, at a premium, themed sleeping places, like ‘gaytime hollow’ or ‘cognoscenti cylinder’? He’d show those other blighters what a can-do culture was all about! Arthur O’Neill is a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks at the University of Life. Although he was never enrolled at Monash, he still insists ‘I am still learning’.

Sources

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Strategy, you will drive strategic research development …’ and ‘will lead the staff or the Research Strategy office’: University of New South Wales, Director, Research Strategy. The Australian, Higher Education, 3 December 2014, p. 32. ‘… the position of Senior Adviser is responsible for providing high level executive and management support …’: La Trobe University, Senior Adviser Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Academic). The Australian, Higher Education, 3 December 2014, p. 30. ‘Teaching and Learning is a key strategic priority area … ’: University of Technology, Sydney, Assistant Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education). The Australian, Higher Education, 17 September 2014, p. 29. ‘The dean is both champion of the troops (faculty members) … ’: Graeme Duncan, ‘Notes from a Departed Dean’ in P. James (Ed.) Burning Down the House. The Bonfire of the Universities, p. 55. North Carlton: Association for the Public University/Arena Publications. … each run by a Pro Vice-Chancellor ‘who reports directly to the ViceChancellor’ and ‘Head of School Education’ [sic] ‘who reports to the Pro ViceChancellor [of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce] …’: La Trobe University/Odgers Berndtson (Executive Search), Head of School of Education, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce. La Trobe University, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Coursework), College of Arts, Social Science and Commerce. The Australian, Higher Education, 26 November 2014, p. 34.

‘> Outstanding communication, interpersonal and persuasion skills …’ and ‘>High-level management, financial and fundraising expertise’: Odgers Berndtson (Executive Search), on behalf of Australian National University, Vice Chancellor and President. The Australian, Higher Education, 4 March 2015, p. 30.

‘… distinctive in its unique combination of teaching and research strengths in health, education, hearing, mind and language …’: Macquarie University/carolwatson [sic] (Executive Search and Consulting in Education), Executive Dean – Human Sciences. The Australian, Higher Education, 11 February 2015, p. 31.

‘Discover the difference’: at the foot of notices inserted by Funeral Directors, C. G. Moodie & Daughter. Funerals, e.g., Herald Sun, 19 January 2015, p. 44.

‘The Group hosts seven Research Centres, and is comprised of eight Schools …’ and ‘The Group hosts several areas of Strategic Investment …’: Griffith University, Dean, Academic. Arts, Education and Law Group. The Australian, Higher Education, 11 February 2015, p. 33.

‘Be the difference’: at the foot of advertisements by La Trobe University. ‘This is a new position which will be a pivotal role …’: University of Western Sydney, Vice President Division of People and Advancement. The Australian, Higher Education, 10 Dec 2014, p. 28 & 21 Jan 2015, p. 27. ‘Despite the diversity of our disciplinary mix …’ and ‘We are seeking leaders in Public Relations scholarship … ’: University of Queensland, School of Communication and Arts, Professor in Public Relations/Associate Professor in Public Relations/Associate Professor in Drama. The Australian, Higher Education, 21 January 2015, p. 29. Thus the ‘position’ of Professor of Marketing was said to be ‘responsible for conducting high-quality relevant and impactful research in marketing …’ and ‘Professors of Practice’ positions: La Trobe University, La Trobe Business School, Professor of Marketing/Professors of Practice. The Australian, Higher Education, 10 December 2014, p. 31. ‘Following the recent appointment of its new Vice-Chancellor … [the University] wishes to strengthen its leadership capability with four key appointments to its senior executive team’: University of New England/ Crown & Marks (Executive Search & Leadership Development), UNE Senior Executive Positions – Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic)/Pro Vice-Chancellor (External Relations)/ Chief Services Officer. The Australian, Higher Education, 3 December 2014, p. 31. ‘Supporting the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), she/he will have executive responsibility for a portfolio that spans [the University’s] international research strategy, research partnerships …’ and ‘The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) will also provide strategic leadership to a large team …’: University of New South Wales/Crown & Marks (Executive Search & Leadership Development), Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research). The Australian, Higher Education, 10 December 2014, p. 32. And there was another ‘key strategic leadership role’: ‘As Director of Research

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‘People hide in the hierarchy …’: op. cit., Duncan, p. 60. The Chancellor was on record as believing ‘that in time … ’ and ‘To date, with no price differential, students have generally followed the brand …’: John Story, Chancellor, University of Queensland, quoted in Julie Hare/Andrew Trounson, ‘Price and quality “will be confused”’. The Australian, Higher Education, 17 September 2014, pp 29, 30. ‘Australia shares this trend with other nations. Direct public funding at Oxford …’ and ‘Current funding rates mean the tertiary education …’: Glyn Davies, Vice-Chancellor, University of Melbourne, ‘Why I support the deregulation of higher education.’ University World News, no. 352, 30 January 2015. Retrieved from http://www.universityworldnews.com/article. php?story=201501291 ‘… being known for its entrepreneurial and “can do” culture’ …’: Monash University, Chief Information Officer. The Australian, Higher Education, 12 November 2014, p. 33. ‘The world, it was the old world yet/ … ’: A. E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad, LXII. ‘Limited premium graves available’: announcement attached on the street-side of a railing fence on the south-eastern corner of the Melbourne General Cemetery, February 2015. ‘Saint Mary of the Cross Gallery of Angels Mausoleum Crypts now available Featuring the gallery of Angels from Rome’s Ponte Sant’Angelo’: announcement attached on the street-side of a railing fence near the southern, main, gate of the Melbourne General Cemetery, February 2015. vol. 57, no. 2, 2015


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REVIEWS

Half full or half empty? Through a Glass Darkly: The Social Sciences Look at the Neoliberal University by Margaret Thornton (Ed.). ISBN 9781925022131 (paperback), 9781925022148 (e-book), ANU Press, 331 pp., 2014. Reviewed by Paul Rodan This volume had its origins in a workshop convened in

Tony Aspromourgos locates the rise of managerialism in

Canberra in 2013, with the aim of exploring the impact

the ‘… conservative shift in social, political and economic

of market forces on the modern Australian university.

culture from the end of the 1970s…’ (p. 87): makes a nice

It is pleasing to be able to advise that the reader will

change from it all being due to the evil Dawkins! Kanishka

encounter a wider range of perspectives than one might

Jayasuriya plots the changing mission of the public

expect.While there are elements of golden age mythology

university and the emergence of market citizenship. He

and patronising academic nonsense (the social sciences

regrets the absence of ‘the notion of the university as a

as the ‘conscience’ of society) in the collection, these are

site of democratic engagement and contestation in an

not widespread.

increasingly globalised world’ (p. 102).

Hannah Forsyth’s chapter, sketching some background

Glenn Withers contends that ‘In Australia, the public

history on the Australian university system, will be

and private spheres are now inextricably mixed’ (p. 103).

familiar to readers of her book on that topic, and it is

He develops his narrative of the sector along that theme,

surely important to acknowledge that the notion of the

while also providing useful information on the breadth of

university is a changing and contestable one, there being

higher education provision in this country. Withers sees

‘no original idea of the university’; it has ‘adjusted to

scope for better management of universities, involving:

changing public need’ (p. 21). In his chapter on critical

diminution of uncreative and unsupportive administration

theory, Peter Beilharz sees the ‘toxic combination’ of

(unfortunately, he is too coy to provide examples); better

‘state and market’ as ‘most potentially destructive of

institutionalisation of peer-review of academic affairs

what universities earlier used to be’ (p. 47). Fiona Jenkins

within university decision-making; respect for staff and

notes that her discipline of Philosophy does better than

student voices; improved university integrity codes (p.

might be expected in ‘research excellence’ exercises, but

116). Good luck with all of that!

highlights the extent of status affirmation (and attendant gender problems) inherent in this situation.

Nigel Palmer addresses the university’s transactions with students and makes the case for more sophisticated

Geoffrey Brennan offers a challenging perspective,

engagement with the ‘market’ for students. He provides

viewing the diagnosis of the problem as misplaced and

an interesting discussion on the role of rankings,

the concern ill-specified. He sees the characterisation

reputation and brand, and sees ‘The principal threats

of the university system as ‘an instantiation of a market

to the idea of the university’ as being the adoption of

institution’ as inaccurate, viewing it as largely (even

‘market-like practices in an unreflective way as much

exclusively) ‘publicly run and administered’ (p. 66).

as they do in efforts in the name of ‘resistance’ that are

He regards scale as an important explanatory factor

similarly uninformed’ (p. 139).

in many of the most unpopular changes within the

Bruce

Lindsay

examines

student

conduct

and

sector and his treatment of motivation is especially

performance and how systems to oversee these have

interesting. Brennan’s optimism that most academics

adapted. He identifies the emergence of the student

can effectively work around cliché-wielding academic

qua learner as a key feature (with the emphasis on skill,

managers will not be shared by all, but his chapter will

employability, graduate attributes, academic performance):

have readers thinking.

‘homo economicus’ rather than “the young person ‘in

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formation’ or ‘the ‘citizen specialist’ in training’” (p. 147).

the universal validity of her contention that the ‘hard’

Some thought-provoking stuff here.

sciences are the beneficiaries of the anti-social sciences/

The chapter by Margaret Thornton and Lucinda

humanities tendencies in the sector (p. 187). Many

Shannon, on branding and choice in law schools, starts

physicists, chemists and mathematicians would see their

less than auspiciously, with one factual error and a

disciplines as equally out of favour in neoliberal land.

dubious interpretation. They assert that that old villain

Jenny Corbett, Andrew MacIntyre and Inger Mewburn

Dawkins (him again, cue the booing) ‘declared all Colleges

paint a less grim picture than most of their fellow

of Advanced Education (CAEs) to be universities’, at the

contributors. They see comparisons with a mythical

stroke of a pen, in 1988 (p. 157). A cursory glance at

golden past as a problem, hampering a realistic

Marginson and Considine’s The Enterprise University

appreciation of what is happening.They are positive about

(2000, pp. 32-33) would have revealed that of forty-nine

the potential of new funding sources and the potential for

CAEs in 1988, twenty-one were incorporated into existing

the generation of new modes of academic practice. While

universities: they did not all become universities in their

their tone will probably be too optimistic for some tastes,

own right. The authors then suggest that CAEs ‘generally

their hard-nosed treatment of the issue of accountability

did not include professional programs’ (p. 157) and while

is possibly a useful reality check.

much may depend on the definition of ‘generally’, it will

Diane Kirkby and Kerreen Reiger provide a case study

be news to the thousands of CAE graduates in engineering,

of curriculum and organisational change at La Trobe

accounting and psychology, to name a few professions.

University, in which readers expecting a tale of best

The frequency with which CAE history is misrepresented

practice will be disappointed. An all too familiar tale of

suggests some form of cognitive dissonance at work for

mismanagement, poor communication and demoralisation

many of those writing about it.

ensues. A special ‘hear, hear’ to the authors’ observation

Despite this rocky start, the chapter is an interesting

that, given ‘the attempt to make the public sector emulate

one, plotting how law schools have tried to market their

the corporate world, there seems to be little engagement

offerings in an environment where difference is good in

with alternative perspectives on leadership advanced

theory, but market pressures have shrunk the diversity of

by advocates of ‘bottom-up’ consultation and effective

what is on offer. This is true not only at the level of what

change management, including those who are recognised

is taught (commercial law trumps poverty law), but in

and respected in the private sector’ (p. 214).

terms of skills being inculcated. The authors’ point that

For this reviewer, the most problematic chapter was

‘critical thinking’ in law schools is more likely to entail

Judith Bessant’s account of her dismissal and ultimate

vocationally-relevant critique of sloppy procedures

reinstatement at RMIT University. It is simply too

or thought processes than an intellectually-informed

personal, subjective and emotionally raw for inclusion

challenge to existing power structures, is especially well

in this collection of essays: the story would have been

made (and need not be limited to law schools). And, one

better told by a more impartial ‘outsider’ with access to

is disappointed rather than surprised with the exposition

the relevant paperwork and to Bessant as an interviewee.

of law school marketing campaigns which emphasise life

Moreover, if the theme is that of bullying within the

style benefits at the end of the road (read dollars) over the

modern institution, then I would question any necessary

intellectual engagement and challenges along the student

link between such practices and neoliberalism. Bullying

journey. Almost sounds like the courses belong back in

within universities pre-dates Dawkins and the corporate

an old CAE!

university, and it is far from clear that the proliferation of

Jill Blackmore explores the gendered nature of

anti-bullying policies has done much to turn that around.

research and of higher education corporatisation. She

Bessant suggests that her Dean was motivated to

notes the problems with the assumption that, given

seek her dismissal due to her role in a whistle-blowing

growing numbers, a critical mass of women would ‘be

incident some twenty years earlier. Perhaps for legal

promoted into managerial and research leadership.’ But,

reasons, details of the alleged offence (involving

such optimism was unfounded and ‘… this horizontal

inappropriate sexual conduct) are vague, but it leaves the

and gendered division of labour repeats itself inter-

reader unclear whether the vengeful boss was himself an

generationally’ (p. 184). From a social sciences perspective,

offender, a supervisor protecting the offenders or simply

the deck remains stacked against women, and it is difficult

a manager with a conventional hostility to whistle-

to contest Blackmore’s case that the neoliberal version of

blowing. Eventually, after a long NTEU-backed struggle,

the university isn’t helping. However, I am not sure about

Bessant secured reinstatement, and the judgement by

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Federal Court Justice Peter Gray included some of the

Unfortunately, the editing of this collection left much

most damning official criticisms of senior academic

to be desired. By my count (no index, an annoying feature

managers which one might be likely to read. And yet, the

of e-books it seems), there were eight references to the

two parties involved have, apparently, suffered no adverse

Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA)

consequences: indeed, the vice-chancellor secured

and only two of these got the title right (and one of

‘promotion’ to leadership of a GO8 university. A cynic

these contributors had it wrong earlier in his chapter).

suggested to me that many VC selection committees

Incredibly, the title was wrong in the list of acronyms.

would be favourably disposed towards an applicant

Here’s a clue, people: if the acronym contains the letter ‘S’,

whose approach to industrial relations laws included a

one of the words probably begins with an ‘S’!

minimalist interpretation of staff rights.

I lost count of the number of publications cited

Jane Kenway, Rebecca Boden and Johannah Fahey

(Harvard style) in the text for which there was no

conclude the collection. They ask a question long

subsequent mention in the consolidated bibliography:

obvious to this reviewer: why do ‘… academics remain

rather frustrating for any follow-up. Maryanne Dever has

in workplaces they often feel personally injurious and

become Martanne Devers in both text and bibliography.

where teaching and research are increasingly colonised

Geoff Sharrock appears as Glen in the text (perhaps

by simple-minded managerialist agendas and ruthless

morphing into the former Twilights and Little River

financial policies’ (p. 259). The authors suggest several

Band lead singer Glenn Shorrock), but happily resumes

possibilities, but one also needs to bear in mind that new

his workday identity in the bibliography. One might have

cohorts of staff will have known nothing but the current

thought that an academic who once worked at the now

state of affairs, an obvious difficulty for those trying

defunct Phillip Institute of Technology would have been

to claw back lost ground. The authors acknowledge

aware that it was Phillip with two l’s. A chapter refers to

their own privileged status as established professors,

Chifley government minister John Dedman as ‘the Right

contrasting it with those below them in the hierarchy,

Honourable’, but a glance at the source cited reveals

especially

masses. Their

(accurately) that he was ‘merely’ ‘the Honourable’. All

involvement in research projects explicitly critical of the

the

teeming

casualised

rather sloppy, and one can only hope that the people

neoliberal university, attracting local and international

responsible for these assorted sins don’t berate students

funding, suggests that all is not lost and that the Stasi

for lack of attention to detail.

are not yet at the door. They also see positives in student activism and while some may view this as misplaced

Paul Rodan is an adjunct professor in the Swinburne Institute

optimism, it is hard to envisage a successful progressive

for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology,

agenda without such support.

Melbourne, and a member of the AUR editorial board.

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What’s up, Doc? Enhancing the Doctoral Experience. A Guide for Supervisors and their International Students by Steve Hutchinson, Helen Lawrence & Dave Filipovic-Carter. ´ ISBN 978-1-4094-5175-4, Gower, 292 pp., 2014. Reviewed by Andrys Onsman Before receiving the review copy, I had already decided

manifest during the course of the program. The authors

that the world simply doesn’t need yet another book about

give plenty of suggestions for questions that might be

higher degree supervision. Like most of my colleagues, I

profitably asked. This is important for all research higher

have three or four on my shelves and occasionally consult

degree students but almost overwhelmingly so for

one, and then only when things are not going as well

international students – given that there is no stereotypical

as they might. What could another one, especially one

international student as such. (When doing my PhD, I was

focused on Old Blighty, possibly tell me about supervising

in a room with the other non-English speaking students,

research higher degree students in Australia? A lot, as it

from Thailand, New Guinea and Mauritius. We were so

turns out, and not only about supervising international

un-alike in cultural background, language skills, values

students: it’s a fine guide for supervising locals as well.

and attitudes that in retrospect it seems ludicrous to have

It doesn’t really introduce very much that is likely to

been lumped together. But I suspect we did (mostly) all

be new; rather it serves to make what most supervisors

help each other because we were in that room).

already do, better.

There are neat and illustrative quotes from international

There are three parts to the book – albeit not exactly

students – mostly identified by country of origin

couched as such. First comes the issues to do with

and discipline, which was useful – and supervisors –

compliance with institutional and national requirements;

only identified by discipline, which was irritating in

then comes a section on supervisor and student finding

the Australian context where we have a plethora of

out where each is coming from and agreeing on where

international staff. It’s a point that the authors make

they are going; and finally there is the business of

themselves. I could have done without the cute tropes

getting things done. Each has subsections, points for

and adages, saws and proverbs translated from other

consideration and quotes from a survey undertaken by

languages to show how international it all is, and instead

the authors.

had comments from international supervisors, about

Readers not in the UK may be tempted to skip the

how they get on with international students as opposed

first two chapters as they are focused on that country.

to local students. It’s a small quibble: overall the section

However, I found that the chapters made me think about

is stacked with good ideas, reminders and strategies for

the Australian framework and how the Australian doctoral

building a solid relationship as the basis for the next three

experience fits in the global context. Some bits are

years of graft.

‘skippable’ but there is also much that is relevant to any

For those who came in late, the Dublin Descriptors

context. If nothing else, it points out that regardless of the

are a part of the Bologna process, which broadly aims

context in which you are operating, there are regulatory

to standardise education throughout Europe. The

and compliance issues to be aware of.

Descriptors articulate the difference between bachelor

The next four chapters focus on building the

degrees, master’s degrees and doctoral degrees. The

relationship between supervisor and student.This section

next six chapters take each of these Dublin Descriptors

emphasises the importance of both parties consciously

in turn, and considers it in the context of the ‘designed

and deliberately designing the relationship based on a

relationship’ that has been built. Each of the chapters

rigorous and empathetic conversation about motivation

gives helpful practical advice, illustrated with apt student

(both supervisor and student), on purpose, on aims, on

and supervisor quotes, boxed suggestions for questions

expectations, and looking closely at misunderstandings

that might be asked and the occasional (and annoying)

and misalignments, and where and why they may become

bon mot from abroad.

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Despite the Monarchists’ best efforts,Australia isn’t part

knowledge. It’s learning to discern as you gather. On page

of Europe and we are not beholden to that community’s

156, there is a neat diagram of the categories of literature

standardisation processes, but according to the Australian

referenced, a triangle of increasingly bigger layers, with

Quality

doctoral

‘key papers’ at the top, followed by ‘important papers’,

graduates also should have shown that they can do all

‘marginal papers, and ‘peripheral papers’ at the base. It’s

those things, albeit that the outcomes are articulated in a

an excellent aid not only for international students but all

slightly different way. Under the subheadings of Summary,

doctoral students, when explaining that a literature scan

Knowledge, Skills and Application of Knowledge and

has to have a purpose in the narrative of the thesis and

Skills, the level 10 criteria, in order, are:

not simply be a summary of all you’ve read. Increasing

Framework

standards, Australian

Graduates at this level will have systematic and critical understanding of a complex field of learning and specialised research skills for the advancement of learning and/or for professional practice.

expertise, even in its developmental stages, generally

Graduates at this level will have systemic and critical understanding of a substantial and complex body of knowledge at the frontier of a discipline or area of professional practice.

implement and adapt a substantial process of research

Graduates at this level will have expert, specialised cognitive, technical and research skills in a discipline area to independently and systematically:

be learnt. The three adjectives in that sentence exemplify

• Engage

she is well on their way. Again, this is just as important

in

critical

reflection,

synthesis

and

evaluation. • Develop,

means becoming more narrowly focused. The next descriptor, a successful doctoral candidate will have demonstrated the ability to conceive, design, with scholarly integrity, is introduced by the statement ‘the ability to construct an achievable, viable, tractable research question is a rare skill’, and it’s a skill that needs to how well this book is constructed. Once a student has a research question that has those three qualities, he or for local students as the international ones. Neither

adapt

and

implement

research

supervisor nor student needs to know all the answers, but

methodologies to extend and redefine existing

the former especially needs to be reasonably sure that the

knowledge or professional practice.

question won’t lead to a dead end. Most importantly, as

• Disseminate and promote new insights to peers and the community.

the good idea is put into practice, supervision assumes a minimisation – but not an entire elimination – of risk.

• Generate original knowledge and understanding to

Questions, assessments of risk, potentials, likelihoods, all

make a substantial contribution to a discipline or

such things need to be discussed and factored into the

area of professional practice.

process. It is an imperative that all doctoral students,

Graduates at this level will apply knowledge and skills to demonstrate autonomy, authoritative judgement, adaptability and responsibility as an expert and leading practitioner or scholar.

and especially international students from educational

In effect and intention there isn’t much difference

intellectual contribution that adds to the knowledge of

between the Australian Quality Framework standards

the domain. In short, it’s about finding and publishing

and the Dublin Descriptors,, and the book transports

real research outputs in a thesis prepared for submission.

readily to the Antipodes, which makes this set of chapters

The international adage that heads this chapter, ‘Copying

particularly good. The fact that Enhancing the Doctoral

everyone else all the time, the monkey will cut his throat’,

Experience takes the reader through each of the Dublin

seems particularly gruesome and obscure, but apparently

Descriptors in turn is a benefit because it shows how

that is how Zulu roll. For my part, I tend to stay away

each descriptor is both complementary to the others as

from throat-cutting of any description when talking with

well as combining to provide an inclusive guide to what

my post-grads (especially in the third year) but should

makes a doctoral thesis good (or very good, or excellent).

I ever have the privilege of supervising a Zulu student,

backgrounds that are substantially different to the supervisor’s, are aware of them. The third descriptor requires students to make an

First, a successful doctoral candidate will have

I will keep it in mind. Regardless of the sobriquet, it is

demonstrated a systematic understanding of a field of

a dense, thoughtful and helpful chapter, looking closely

study and mastery of the skills and methods of research

at how we talk, how we interpret what is said, how we

associated with that field. This is often the stuff that the

support.What exactly is ‘an intellectual contribution’? The

supervisor knows and the student has to learn: how to

chapter’s discussion about ‘good enough’ is particularly

gather information and data, and turn it into disciplinary

pragmatic and helpful. Asking students to read a thesis

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from my department worked pretty well for me, and

cycles of hard thinking and re-thinking that ends up with

allowed us to see how much of it was original. Overall it’s

a decent Thesis.The result, the evidence of that capability

about knowing what needs to be done in order to achieve

is the Thesis.

what is desired. The chapter is rich with ideas, questions and suggestions about how to get that done.

The next chapter deals with the fifth element, ostensibly about the doctoral candidate being able to communicate

The fourth descriptor specifies the aspects that the

about their area of expertise to their peers, the relevant

Thesis needs to have demonstrated: ‘the critical analysis,

academic community and the wider society. I say

evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas’. Like

ostensibly because it is here that academic communication

the Europeans, Australians have the advantage of being

skills are put to the test and it is here that (international)

able to consider how the levels of the requirements at the

students realise why their supervisors refused to edit their

doctoral level differ from those at the bachelor and master

work. On the other hand, it may be good for supervisors

level – they are in the AQF. There is an argument to be

to ask their students (and themselves) what language

made that critical analysis especially abstract reasoning,

they communicate their ideas in when they are talking

is the predominant Western educational paradigm, and

to others from their homeland. And what language they

East Asian students may find it difficult to normalise

will be communicating their hard-won new ideas in

(and possibly reconcile). The bottom line response is

when they are back in their homeland. The notion that

that Western universities are openly grounded in that

international students mostly go home to practice what

paradigm.

they have learnt, and what that means for supervision,

The chapter tackles the question of what critical

bubbles along underneath this chapter – and may have

analysis actually is in a manner consistent throughout the

better been more explicit. Recently the question of why a

book. Find out what the student thinks it is, posit what

female student in a medicine course was being forced to

you think it is, consider what others think it is, see how it

examine male patients, when that scenario was unlikely to

is used in your discipline, resolve the differences and stick

occur when she started practice in her Muslim homeland.

to the program. It is important to get it sorted because just

Predictably, the answer was that that is what passing the

about every aspect of the Thesis needs to show evidence

course required.

of critical analysis: the research questions, the literature

Overall, this chapter is about clarity as much as it is

scan, the methodology, the results and the discussion. And

about confidence. Can the student demonstrate the

the emphasis is on the student generating his or her own

capacity to talk clearly about his or her work in a variety

critical and analytical capacity.There is a tsunami of papers

of contexts? Did the student know at the start that that

that argue that it is difficult for international students to

was a requirement? What learning plan was put in place?

distinguish between being critical of something and of

What targets had been hit when? To some extent, the

someone; that they are used to the supervisor being the

message is more pertinent to the UK, where they retain

boss. Critical analysis is a research skill that needs to be

that voce viva malarkey, but even in Australia candidates

developed.

need to be able to communicate, formally and informally,

The book argues that academic synthesis is a more problematic skill for international students than critical analysis:

verbally and written, to the layman and to the community of experts, the ‘what, when, why and how’ of their work. The final Dublin descriptor is about making the newly

As the very heart of the intellectual creation process, [synthesis] is also likely to be the single most demanding aspect of the international student’s developing identity as an independent researcher, and the one where emotions influenced by unfamiliarity with the ‘Western’ academic approaches are likely to show themselves most strongly. (Hutchinson et al., 2015; p213).

gained knowledge count. The Thesis will be expected to have made a difference, to have some impact on society. It’s a descriptor that gets short shrift because it is difficult to pin down but as Hutchinson and his colleagues argue, that’s no reason to over-look it.The two main problems are the descriptor does not say clearly how that difference is to be made and it does not articulate which society has to

The activity of taking bits of data and information

benefit.There is a third aspect to this.There is still a corner

from disparate sources and weaving them together into

in academia where the researchers who do not want to

a coherent and cohesive knowledge narrative that adds

justify their research in terms of impact are ensconced.

something to the disciplinary pool of knowledge is

For them the purity of research ought not be sullied by

a cognitive and affective process that is at the heart of

such gross measures, even if this century has seen the

expertise and creativity. It is the iterative and re-iterative

normalisation of the ‘knowledge economy’ and academies

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and academics being subsumed in it. Diane Reay, Professor

states that impact can be both academic and societal.

of Education at Cambridge University, is one of many who

Academic impact is ‘the demonstrable contribution that

decries the advent of academic corporatisation:

excellent research makes to academic advances, across

Just as insidious is the conversion of knowledge into

and within disciplines, including significant advances in

something to be sold, traded and consumed.We no longer

understanding, methods, theory and application’, while

have independent knowledge underpinned by academic

economic and societal impacts are the ‘demonstrable

freedom, but a knowledge economy where the value of

contribution that excellent research makes to society and

knowledge is decided by political elites on the basis of its

the economy. Economic and societal impacts embrace

utility to them. The result is that we have seen the death

all the extremely diverse ways in which research-related

of universities as centres of critique. Rather, the role of

knowledge and skills benefit individuals, organisations

academia has become one of servicing the status quo

and nations by: fostering global economic performance,

rather than challenging it in the name of justice, human

and specifically the economic competitiveness of the

flourishing, freedom of thought or alternative visions of

United Kingdom; increasing the effectiveness of public

the future. (http://www.discoversociety.org/2014/02/15/

services and policy; enhancing quality of life, health and

on-the-frontline-from-academic-freedom-to-academic-

creative output’ – which makes impact a broad spectrum.

capitalism/).

The chapter does a good job of providing multiple ways

If knowledge is capital therein, are we then academic capitalists, devoid of any obligation to be socially

to discuss this descriptor with your students throughout the course of the supervision.

beneficial? Have the pragmatics trumped the romantics?

Chapter 13 is all about vivas, interesting reading should

Surely not? Hutchinson and his colleagues call on a greater

I ever be offered a chair at Oxford. No longer the norm

authority to provide the answer. ‘There is resistance

in Australia, it did bring back memories of defending

to this requirement for economic justification, though

my thesis for a couple of hours, and as gentle as my

resistance to a financial reality is generally futile’ (p236).

interlocutors were, it was stressful enough, especially as it

Reay seems particularly aggrieved that Oxford University

was only afterwards that I was informed that the exercise

has a Rupert Murdoch Professorial Chair of Language and

had no bearing on my results.

Communications. I can’t see the problem: it’s not as if it’s

The final chapter briefly sums up the book and

a chair in Ethics. On the other hand, the Daleks couldn’t

emphasises the importance of confidence. International

even get up the stairs…

students come with varying degrees of confidence – as

This is where it becomes important to define ‘benefit’

do local students – and they will need truckloads of it to

and ‘society’. Both the AQF and the Dublin Descriptors

get through three or four years of intense study. Having a

leave the terms vague, and I suspect they did so

supervisor who has read and internalised the messages in

deliberately because in reality articulating impact is not

this book will go a long way to providing that.

only about providing justification in economic terms for both the thesis and the 3 or 4 years you’ve spend creating

Andrys Onsman is a lecturer in the Centre for the Study of

it,. The United Kingdom has its Pathways to Impact

Higher Education, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Models,

(http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/ke/impacts/)

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

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STEMming the tide The Age of STEM – Educational policy and practice across the world in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics by Brigid Freeman, Simon Marginson & Russell Tytler (Eds.). ISBN 9781138785953, Routledge, Oxon, Great Britain, 304 pp., 2015. Reviewed by Neil Mudford

This book had its origins in a short but intensive research

fourteen countries from which the fifteen contributions

project carried out by the editors, Freeman, Marginson

were received. In almost every nation, some researchers

and Tytler and by others. The project was carried out

and most business leaders, political leaders and STEM

under the auspices of the Australian Council of Learned

policy advisers agree that there is a STEM ‘problem’ and

Academies (ACOLA) having been initiated by the

that significant effort is required to boost STEM activity.

Office of the Chief Scientist. Its purpose was to provide

This is the fundamental belief or assumption underlying

background material for the Chief Scientist’s report

the whole STEM stimulation effort.

setting out recommendations for Australian Government

At first sight, the belief seems well founded. Much data

policy for stimulating science, technology engineering and

show worrying trends of some sort. Anecdotal evidence

mathematics (STEM) education, research and economic

of difficulties is widespread. So much effort and so many

activity (Office of the Chief Scientist, 2014). The project

resources are to be poured into the ‘solution’, though,

goal was ‘to critically examine and compare approaches

that it is imperative to subject this underlying belief to

… [internationally] ... to capacity building in the STEM

thorough, critical examination.

disciplines … [and to examine] … the take up of STEM

The belief rests on a number of perceptions. One,

skills in the labour market.’ (Chapter 1, p. 1 of ‘The Age

present in almost all nations, is that STEM course

of STEM’).

enrolments are declining at secondary and tertiary

At the request of the project team, researchers in

education levels or that students are under-performing in

relevant disciplines in several countries provided detailed

international standardised STEM skills or knowledge tests.

reports on their national STEM issues. By deliberate

Another perception is that businesses have excessive

choice, the countries represented are similar to Australia

difficulty recruiting STEM-skilled staff. Organisations

in some respects such as language, history, demography,

monitoring labour market trends sometimes report STEM

culture and so on.

workforce shortages or predict their occurrence in the

The result is a useful and quite comprehensive

near future. Further, national wealth generation and the

overview of the perceptions of the need for urgent

STEM workforce’s competence and activity are positively

action on STEM and the various national responses to

correlated. Observers conclude from these inputs that

these perceptions. The chapters are written to a high

high wealth generation rates require substantial remedial

standard with a good deal of quantitative information

action to grow STEM studies and activity.

in each. Tables and graphics are clear and sharply

Remedial actions take a number of forms, including

reproduced. The data are accompanied by detailed,

boosts to education, boosts to research and renewed

insightful and well-written descriptions and discussions

efforts to forge more productive links between researchers

of developments in each country along with a copious

and entrepreneurial business people. Another tactic is to

reference list. Each national work and study environment

make special efforts to draw in sections of the population

has its own peculiarities with those ‘on the ground’

who are under-represented in the STEM workforce, such

clearly giving a lot of thought to their own cultures,

as women and Indigenous peoples.

history, educational system and so on.

Most of the country chapters are standard style,

The striking feature of the country chapters, as I shall

government focused reports that canvass the issues

call them, is how similar the experiences are across the

from an Anglo/Euro cultural viewpoint. I include the

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Asian country reports in the standard group as the views

represented in this book want a thriving KBE to allow

expressed on STEM issues are mostly in the Anglo/Euro

them to compete fiercely with all the other countries

mould. In amongst these, however, are a number of

with thriving KBEs. This seems to be the real source of

rather different and thought-provoking contributions,

the anxiety that drives the proponents of STEM action.

which speak of Indigenous peoples’ views of STEM.

Because the fastest growing businesses are high-tech

These alternative contributions are from countries with

and STEM-based, policy makers fear that the absence

identifiable Indigenous populations – New Zealand,

of a high level STEM workforce will lead to national

Canada, Brazil and South Africa. I was disappointed to

impoverishment.

see that the country chapter from Australia, Chapter

The real question is whether the STEM workforce is

11, lacked a corresponding discussion though some

adequate to our needs, a question not easily answered

mention was made of Australian Indigenous issues. The

unequivocally.

chapters are written by authors who have understanding

In all this hubbub of general agreement, worry and

of Indigenous lives and culture, either from personal

rather frantic STEM remedial action, Dobson’s Chapter 14,

experience or through their work as academics or both.

‘STEMming the tide: the Finnish way to a technologically

An enthralling example is Aikenhead and Sutherland’s

proficient workforce’, stands out as the great exception.

Chapter 9 ‘Changing the shape of STEM: wisdom of

Dobson reports that the Finnish nation has taken pretty

grassroots Indigenous movements in Canada’, a title

much the opposite view and approach on every aspect

which reveals a deep theme in the chapter.

of the whole STEM ‘problem’. In fact for Finns there is no

We Anglo/Euro culture people, especially those like me with a STEM background, often tend to think of STEM

STEM problem.They consider their workforce well skilled and highly qualified in STEM, and numerically sufficient.

as encapsulating universal truths that transcend cultural

There seem to be a whole range of factors that

boundaries. Those well-versed in arts and humanities tell

contribute to this rather enviable state. For example,

us STEM is inextricably tied up in the culture from whence

teachers are well paid, have a great deal of autonomy

it sprang but mostly we do not take these messages to

in curriculum design and teaching methods. They are

heart as much as we should. We tell ourselves that this

encouraged to innovate with their teaching on their own

science of ours works all over the surface of Earth, down

initiative and are largely free from bureaucratic scrutiny

beneath the surface and up out into Space; everywhere

of their work. Teachers are highly respected by the

and everywhen. To hear, or be reminded, then that others

community and are well qualified with high levels of staff

see existence, life and humanity in quite different and

development available to them. It is no surprise then that

valid ways comes as something of a revelation.

teaching is a sought-after profession and therefore attracts

A point Aikenhead and Sutherland make is that, if

talented people.

Indigenous peoples are to be drawn into STEM activity in

Finnish school students perform very well in the

ways that avoid cultural indigestion, then STEM will have

international STEM tests, enrol in STEM courses in large

to be undergo wholesale re-interpretation. This is rather

numbers, and are not constantly beset with high-stakes

exciting. It means that STEM doesn’t have to pull up short

testing or examinations. In fact, students’ first experience

at cultural border crossings. Perhaps such a properly

of a national examination comes in the final year of

accomplished transformation of this kind would give

secondary schooling.

STEM a new dimension and even increase its applicability beyond the bounds of my old views of it.

The list goes on. Unfortunately, as Dobson notes, the gulf between the Finnish system of education and

Another general issue with the STEM stimulation

attitudes and those of other nations is so great that the

movement is the motive for growing STEM participation

latter cannot simply pick up a few ‘helpful hints’ from

and activity. There are two standard elements to this. The

the Finns and magically fix their problems. They would

secondary element is to raise STEM ‘literacy’ in the general

need to adopt the whole package, which would be an

population to facilitate understanding of public debate on

extremely difficult transition that no one seems inclined

STEM issues, better navigate the high-tech aspects of daily

towards. However, if I were an Australian educational

life and be innovative and proficient in jobs that are not

policy maker, I would be wondering why we keep

haute-STEM.

banging away with the NAPLAN assessment program

The main element, though, seems to be to develop

and the like and why any perceived shortcomings in

a workforce with high-level STEM skills to power

student performance so often cause the press and public

knowledge-based economies (KBE). All the countries

to round on the teachers. This reaction would be quite

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round, contemporary, properly researched investigations

This book’s editorial team are the only ones who

showed the STEM labour supply and skills levels to be

critically address the question of how much substance

adequate and in each round, these data were ignored in

there is to the underlying STEM belief or assumption,

favour of the shrill clarion calls of the STEM stimulation

mentioned above, that there is a problem and urgent

proponents.Worse than this,Tietelbaum shows that severe

action is needed. The country chapters critically examine

detrimental side effects flowed from the large scale, rapid

the data but do not subject the underlying assumption to

responses to the crises including unemployment and poor

an intellectual blowtorch.

career prospects amongst the surplus STEM graduates

The three editors jointly authored the book’s first

generated. Ironically, the ‘cure’ for one round lays part of

chapter, while Marginson is the sole author of the

the groundwork for the next when the unemployment,

second chapter. These two chapters together provide a

poor salaries and insecure work associated with the

useful summary of the country chapters. Of even greater

over-supply become common knowledge, STEM aversion

importance, they compare and contrast the reported

grows in the following generation.

information and comment critically on it.

It is hard to avoid thinking that the world’s STEM

Here and there within these early chapters are

worries, described so fully in ‘The Age of STEM’, might be

definite, but quietly spoken, messages that the underlying

a global re-run of the USA’s STEM roller coaster ride of

assumption of the STEM stimulation movement may not

the last sixty-five years. Whether or not this is the case,

be well-founded. ‘Myths’ is the word Marginson uses in

Freeman, Marginson and Tytler have given us a welcome

Chapter 2. I suppose it would be out of place to have

portrayal of STEM across the globe.

a thoroughgoing dissection of the fundamental STEM beliefs in a work that presents so much material on so

Neil Mudford is a Visiting Fellow with UNSW, a casual

much STEM policy activity.

specialist lecturer with the University of Queensland and a

One thoroughgoing critical work is Tietelbaum’s

member of the Australian Universities’ Review editorial

recent book, entitled ‘Falling Behind? Boom, Bust & the

board. His field of research is hypersonic flight, particularly

Global Race for Scientific Talent’, which examines the

those aspects related to atmospheric entry of spacecraft.

multiple crises of confidence in STEM competence and preparedness in the USA over the last 60 years (Tietelbaum, 2014; see also Mudford, 2015). Tietelbaum presents a wealth of information and in-depth analysis to show that, in the USA, the belief is baseless and that their leadership’s current round of fears of falling behind other nations in economic competition is simply the latest of five such rounds of unnecessarily heightened concern

References Mudford, N. (2015). Fiddling with STEM? Check your vision first. Australian Universities’ Review, 57(2). Teitelbaum, M.S. (2014). Falling Behind? Boom, Bust & the Global Race for Scientific Talent. New Jersey, USA: Princeton University Press. Office of the Chief Scientist. (2014). Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future. Canberra: Australian Government.

dating back to the beginning of the Cold War. In each

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STEMing the tide II? Keeping Women in Science by Kate White. ISBN 978-0-522-86701-5, Melbourne University Press Academic, 194 pp., 2014. Reviewed by Carroll Graham

As a woman who started her professional career as an

research assistants, who are predominantly women at

engineer, I was interested to see if this book could shed

the case study institute, were deliberately excluded from

new light on the issue of keeping women in science (and,

the interviews on the basis that research assistants have

by extension, engineering and other STEM disciplines).

different career paths to the scientists with whom they

This is a complex and multi-faceted topic and, sensibly,

work. Yet it seems to me that at least some research

this book focuses on one aspect: the career challenges that

assistants would have chosen this path deliberately, when

women working in research institutes face when building

faced by the difficulties for women pursuing research

a research career. This book discusses a project that used

careers. Perhaps this is an issue for another study?

case study methodology focusing on a Melbourne-based

Not surprisingly, the study found that while women at

medical research institute. It employed qualitative and

this research institute were over-represented at doctoral

quantitative methods to examine the broad organisational

and lower research and management levels, they were

culture of this institute, the internal and external barriers

under-represented at more senior levels. One of the

faced

early-to-mid-career)

strongest findings was that scientists, whether men or

working in clinical research, and gender-based career

women, are passionate about doing science. This passion

progression inequities. Initiatives to address these issues

is, however, a double-edged sword: while it contributes

were also explored.

greatly to job satisfaction, it also fuels the myth of the ideal

by

women

(particularly

The book is written clearly and concisely, and follows

monastic male scientist. It is little wonder that few female

an accessible structure. The first three chapters provide

scientists make it to the top. Indeed, career progression

an introduction, literature review and research design.

for the women in this study was problematic, with junior

Seven subsequent chapters present the findings, followed

researchers not having a clear idea of their future career

by a discussion and conclusion in the final chapter.

development and senior women citing lack of transparency

The literature review comprehensively covers the

in promotion processes and lack of support for career

now significant body of literature on career progression

development, as barriers. Integral to career development

in science, particularly for women. Several key issues

as a research scientist is the interrelationship of networks,

emerged for women developing a career in science. First,

mobility and mentoring. Australia’s geographical isolation

there is the gendering of science from the doctoral level

presents international networking and mobility issues for

and beyond. Compounding this, are internal barriers

both men and women; however, traditional models for

(discrimination and lack of support) and external

postdoctoral research are highly gendered as they assume

barriers (e.g. funding models). Additionally, there is the

that the junior researcher is not in a relationship, either

tension between work and other responsibilities, which

with a partner or with children.

affect mobility and the development of networks and

So what? Few female scientists would disagree with

collaborations — all of which have a negative impact on

the findings and discussion presented in this book, and

career progression.

few would disagree with the imperatives for keeping

The methodology and methods used are clearly

women in science, if for no other reason than economic

discussed in the research design chapter, and include

competitiveness. What makes this book of particular

statistical analysis of the gender breakdown of the

value is the set of recommendations, framed within four

workplace population, interviews with a purposive

categories: career development and mentoring, the under-

sample at the institute, and direct observations of the

representation of women at senior levels, generational

workplace. Included was a discussion of the purposive

change in the expectations of science researchers, and

sampling used to select interview participants. Curiously,

the support for flexible careers. Specific proposals for

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implementation are also listed and some have already

Carroll Graham is a Third Space professional who, until

been implemented at the institute. However, individual

recently, was Executive Manager at the Institute for

research institutes cannot address these recommendations

Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney

alone. Funding models must change to accommodate

(UTS), Australia. Carroll now has an honorary appointment

more flexible work and career patterns. Perhaps the

in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University

most striking conclusion is that the new generation of

of Technology, Sydney to explore further issues in higher

female and male scientists is rejecting the traditional male

education.

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construct of science research, and changes designed to keep women in science will also benefit men.

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Origins of the species Origins: A Sustainable Concept in Education by Fred Dervin & Hanna Ragnarsdóttir (Eds.). ISBN: 978-94-6209-852-7 (paperback); 978-94-6209-853-4 (hardback); 97894-6209-854-1 (e-book), Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, xvi + 122 pp., 2014. Reviewed by Dennis Bryant

This volume treats origins (identity) in two parts. The

To say I was disappointed is an understatement

first part is headlined as ‘Deconstructing Origins’ which

because so much had been claimed by the Series Editor

provides a theoretical background for understanding the

(The overarching series is called ‘Transgressions: Cultural

importance of origins.The four papers here are ‘Strategies

Studies and Education’ by Shirley R. Steinberg). According

in ‘Cross-Cultural’ Dealings – Rejecting or highlighting the

to the editor’s claims, insights (into youth depression,

Matter of Origin’ by Kirsten Lauritsen; ‘(De)Constructing

youth violence and youth suicide) could make a difference.

Origin in a Stratified Society: Israeli Ashkenazi, Mizrahi and

While I was attracted by these aims as worthwhile goals,

Palestinian Arab Students in a Multi-Origin Educational

I did underestimate the level of hyperbole in the claims.

Program’ by Dalya Yafa Markovich;‘Discursive Disruptions

I did, however, find some solace in the final article,

in the Little Boxes of Academic Work’ by R.E. Harreveld

‘Being George: I Am Now What I Am Right Here’, written

& Kristy Richardson; and finally, ‘Indigenous and Non-

by Robert Berman & Elena Makarova. While this paper

Indigenous Medical Students’ Perspectives on Willingness

traced the story and collected the views of a Holocaust

to Serve in Underserviced Communities’ by Rhonda G.

survivor, it strength rests in its superb structure and its

Craven, Alexander Seeshing Yeung, Bingyi Li & Ian Wilson.

focus on the topic of identity and identity changes.

Each paper is about 18 pages in length.

However, this paper at last helped me discover that the

But it was the second part which caught my attention

word ‘Education’ in this volume’s title was meant in the

because of its headline ‘Reinventing Origins in Education’

broadest possible way, which makes this volume a general

which promised to inform me on Education.‘Reinventing’

interest publication.

contains just three papers, two of which were

I am unable to endorse this volume from a higher

unstructured in that they had no literature review section,

education perspective, but if you wish to increase your

nor a methodological approach section. These papers

general knowledge about identity, then you might find

were entitled ‘Students with Special Needs: Defined by

time to read this book.

Their Origin’ by Bruce Allen Knight; and ‘The Recognition of Students’ Origins in Liquid Times’ by Thor Ola Engen. For me, the absence of structure meant that it was

Dennis Bryant is concerned with identifying literature that can help expand student learning success. He has a keen

hard (if not impossible) to seize onto the educational

interest in the impact of teaching qualifications, and vision

value of these two papers, due to constant and repetitive

statements, that fire staff aspirations towards achieving

references to the literature being spread through every

increased student learning outcome success.

paragraph.

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

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Write on! Writing Education Research. Guidelines for Publishable Scholarship by Joy Egbert & Sherry Sanden. ISBN 978-1-138-79647-8 pbk, Routledge, New York/Abingdon, Oxon, 222 pp., 2015. Reviewed by Arthur O’Neill

Hello, I’m Dr Grump, the journal specialist. You’ve been

how to test that your research is of quality and shows

referred to me with a severe case of publication impaction

promise (not, I hasten to add, the promise that ‘more work

and I’m here to advise what needs to be done to get your

needs to be done’).

paper moving. By way of introduction (always have one,

Egbert and Sandon do touch on the matter:‘This is not a

by the way) may I say that these education research

book on how to do research or how to edit a manuscript

journals have therapeutic value: rather than taking Valium,

for surface errors…. Rather, this book addresses how

read an article a night before bed.

to present research so that it comes across to readers

I haven’t got back pathology reports on the specimens

as clear, logical, useful and justified – in other words,

you sent in for analysis but one might suppose that you’d

publishable’ (p. 13). Among other considerations, they

learned how to conduct and write up education research

assert that ‘useful research that has been conducted with

on undertaking a postgraduate course or before getting a

rigor’ serves to make a manuscript publishable (p. 13); and

job in academe – albeit as a lowly casual who needs must

earlier, under ‘Useful Content,’ they say:

churn out the stuff to get anywhere. Until you hear about and read some of what is served up: pity editors as they cut their way through life. Dr Grump prescribes this book as a corrective. Take in small doses before inflicting your lucubration on editors; or if you suffer from IRD (impaired reading disorder), take a geek at the ‘Guidelines Checklist’ in an Appendix (pp. 135-138). Maybe you’ll get better, maybe not. You already know that more needs to be published if you want to stay in the game, so learn the drill; learn, too, than nothing

“Useful” in this case does not necessarily mean “applied,” but rather it indicates that the research adds new information to the extant literature. Even a replication study, done well, adds to the field; however, if the study has already been replicated to the point where no new knowledge is gained, then it ceases to be useful. We expect, and therefore do not address in this text, that manuscript content is useful for some purpose, whether it is explaining a new concept, outlining a new theory in a way not previously done or exploring an old topic with a new methodology (pp. 5-6).

annoys editors more that sloppy, ungrammatical writing, ignorance of or unconcern for the conventions laid out

Yes, the authors do a good job in laying out their

in ‘Notes for Contributors’ and ‘Instructions for Authors’;

guidelines for writing publishable research in an

and, not least, think of the poor reader who longs for crisp,

orderly, readable manner. Selecting a topic of substance

instructive accounts of work done.

– evaluating the significance of research rather than

While Dr Grump’s task is to review this ‘how to’

preparing the dressing – is not their department. Take

book, not to catalogue the failings of those in need of

the example of a published research article (Appendix,

reading it, he cannot resist pontificating. The underlying

pp. 218-222) about the beneficial effect of ATS (active

problem – a pandemic that may well have its genesis in

transport to school, ‘defined as walking, biking, or using

steps necessary to climb employment ladders – is the

other non-motorised methods of travel to and from

importance attached to measuring academic productivity

school’ – a definition that is referenced to a journal article

in terms of publications. Metrics, shmetrics! Who says that

titled ‘National prevalence and correlates of walking and

the worth of research is indicated by the volume of article

bicycling to school’). After elaborations of methods and

excretion? So what I’ve been looking for in this book is

results comes a discussion, then a conclusion (‘Translation

not only instruction on packaging but also advice about

to Health Education Practice’) including:

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Health educators will clearly need to make efficient and creative uses of available resources to plan, implement and sustain effective ATS programs. Because this type of intervention involves schools, the community, and individual behaviours, virtually all the health education responsibilities outlined by the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing need to be employed. …

know), can be presented in abbreviated communications.

… Clearly much work needs to be done to increase ATS rates. Health educators will play an important role in achieving that goal (p. 222).

with the rules of the game; and that they do well. Others

Crikey! You need a fancy methodology, including a

available as a pdf; and, especially, in the excellent and just

control school, an elaborate statistical analysis, a lengthy

Rather than taking up space in journals, the fancy bits can be made available by email to those who want to hook into that sort of thing. Back to the book. The authors take the prevailing system of reporting education research in journal articles as a given.Their job is to show how to work in accordance also do it well in guides to writing theses, amongst them in the booklet put out by Monash University (2014) and re-issued publication by Umberto Eco (2015).

discussion (and 48 mentions of ‘ATS’ in the body of the article) to come up with this? and with wisdom such

Arthur O’Neill is a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks

as, under ‘Discussion’: ‘If we are to expect students to

at the University of Life. Although he was never enrolled at

ride bicycles to school, adequate space will be needed

Monash, he still insists ‘I am still learning’.

for parking bicycles and some corrals will need to be enlarged’ (p. 221). You can learn how to jump backwards on one leg, but what is the point of it? The display only is justified if you have a load worthy of carriage. Rather than being taken as a model, this article and others in the literature, such as those devoted to ‘problems’ like the incidence amongst undergraduate students of

References Eco, U. (2015 [1997/2012]). How to Write a Thesis. Cambridge (Mass.)/London: The MIT Press. Monash University (2014) Writing a Thesis in Education. Retrieved from http:// www.monash.edu/education/current-students/academic-and-study-support/ academic-language-and-literacy/booklet-writing-a-thesis-in-education.pdf.

gambling, drinking, smoking (and fornicating, for all I

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Inspiration, perspiration and aspiration Education from a deeper and multidisciplinary perspective: A futuristic view by Chandana Wotagodakumbura. ISBN: 978-1-4931-3142-6 (hardcover); 978-1-4931-3141-9 (softcover); 978-14931-3143-3 (e-book), Xlibris LLC Publishers, 169 pp. , 2014. Review by Dennis Bryant If you have ever concluded that the fabric of higher

There

are

of

course

one

or

two

blemishes.

education is sagging, perhaps even irreparably sagging,

Wotagodakumbura does not provide an explicit critique

then you will be buoyed by this book because it

of his vision. Instead, he relies on his, and the literature’s,

provides a vision for repairing the damage through a

explicit criticism of the existing faults in today’s higher

reorientation process. On first glance, you might think

education teaching and learning – faults which he claims

that Wotagodakumbura’s vision relies too heavily on

is holding back the levels of learning that could be

humanistic philosophy, but that is not the case.

attained. Ergo, if today’s systems are at an impasse, what

While

he

uses

humanistic

philosophy,

Wotagodakumbura’s contribution is to align (he prefers

better solution that a fuller integration of many strands of research?

the term ‘synthesise’) a range of earlier research into a

There is another criticism that I would like to make,

single vision, driven of course by humanistic philosophy.

but I think that it does not distract markedly from his

He aligns Bloom’s taxonomy; the Myers-Briggs type

message (although it can be annoying). There are times

indicator; Maslow’s Theory of Self-Actualisation; as

when the text reads as though it were dictated spoken-

well as Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration

English, and perhaps because of this style issue, there are

and the concept of Psychoneurotics. To these, he adds

numerous places where paragraphs are page-sized. I think

Kolb’s theories of cerebral cortex functions, especially

his editorial staff have a question to answer.

in terms of left hemisphere brain functions (which

Apart from these blemishes, I recommend his book

Wotagodakumbura terms ‘Auditory Sequential learning

because it does provide inspiration at a time when

style’) versus right hemisphere brain functions (which he

academics are being measured for their perspiration

terms ‘Visual Spatial learning style’).

and not their contribution of aspiration to students. It

All in all, it is a breath-taking undertaking that should

is timely.

revitalise your ideas on what positive advancements could come to pass in higher education’s teaching and

Dennis Bryant is concerned with the expansion of student

learning.

learning outcome success through lecturer-provided learning inspiration.

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Fiddling with STEM? Check your vision first Falling Behind? Boom, Bust & the Global Race for Scientific Talent by Michael S. Teitelbaum. ISBN 978-0-691-15466-4, Princeton University Press, 267 pp., 2014. Reviewed by Neil Mudford

In ‘Roots of Oak’, singer songwriter Donovan Leitch

4. Information Technology and the Internet explosions.

(1970) sings the praises of a magical land, time or state of

5. Global Competitiveness.

mind that conjures up images of the ancient Celtic way

Though the wellspring of fears morphed over time from

of life. The chorus consists of the lines: ‘Let me not hear

war-fighting to economic competition, the ill-considered

facts, figures and logic / Fain would I hear lore, legends

interventions created an unfailing pattern of alarm/boom/

and magic.’ This sentiment is enjoyable as a song, but is

bust, as Teitelbaum documents carefully, in great detail and

surely an unsound approach for government policy-

with illuminating results.

making, though not uncommon, as the book under review convincingly establishes.

The interventions consisted of various combinations of encouraging enrolments in STEM studies, boosting

This book is the outcome of a study into half a century

research funding and temporary skilled migration.

of fear-stoked decision-making and associated immense

Hence the booms included generation of a large pool

resource allocations by the United States Federal

of highly trained STEM workers and the busts involved

Government designed to remedy largely imaginary

high unemployment amongst them. The experience for

shortages in Science, Technology, Engineering and

these people, then, was often extended high level study,

Mathematics (STEM) workforce supply.A fascinating aspect

followed by a struggle to find employment in their fields

of this tale is that the lore, legend and magic wielded by

followed by a career change for those unable to secure

those stirring fears of shortages easily swamped the facts,

the scarce places. Of course, once the public detects a

figures and logic of properly-conducted contemporaneous

STEM worker glut, the next wave of STEM aspirants tends

research into STEM workforce supply that showed time

to shy away from the area.The ensuing falling enrolments

and again that there were no real shortages.

in STEM studies set the alarm bells ringing about STEM

According the Teitelbaum, the focus on STEM as a

workforce supply and around we all go again.

critical element of the national workforce and skills set

Hence, Teitelbaum’s greatest lesson for us is that great

arose from the perception that STEM workers did so much

care must be taken in altering education and research

to win WWII for the Allies. Their role in the invention or

funding and skilled immigration practices. Specifically,

development of radar, encryption / decryption, antibiotics,

alterations to funding should be made gradually. The

the atomic bomb and so on was looked on as a deciding

negative effects of sudden funding freezes or cuts are

factor in the victory. Consequently, when the Cold War

easily appreciated. Although sudden large increases in

began, the nation looked to STEM workers to deliver

teaching and research funding are welcomed by the

another victory, though the attitude seems to have been a

recipients, these can produce an oversupply of STEM

more fearful one of hoping that STEM would save it from

graduates.

defeat. Thus began the first of the five crises identified by

An irony is that the existence of a sound set of principles

Teitelbaum, the triggers for which were:

for running a national higher education and fundamental

1. The Cold War and Arms Race.

research system predated the crises described in the book.

2. The USSR’s deployment of the first artificial satellite,

In 1945, the Director of the Office of Scientific Research

Sputnik.

and Development, Vannevar Bush presented to President

3. Federal Government initiatives such as the War on

Truman a Report concerning principles that should

Cancer and the Defence build-up under President

be applied to scientific research funding in the United

Reagan.

States (Bush, 1945).This report set out five principles that

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

Fiddling with STEM? Check your vision first Reviewed by Neil Mudford

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Teitelbaum commends to us as a fine foundation for a

(see, for example, Freeman, Marginson & Tytler, 2015)

funding system.

in order to enhance an economy and build or grow a

Some of the important elements of the Bush principles

healthy high technology sector. This seems to me to be

include a commitment to funding stability to allow the

repeating on the global scale the US national experience

conduct of long-term research projects, awarding the

documented and dissected by Teitelbaum.

research

funds

to

non-governmental

organisations,

A recent contribution to the Australian debate is the

instead of running government laboratories with the

report of the Office of the Chief Scientist (2014). The

money, and leaving the choice of lines of enquiry up to

report’s title claims STEM is ‘Australia’s Future’ but this is

the institutions. Bush comments that this last point is

difficult to believe when so much of our manufacturing

‘of utmost importance’. Teitelbaum neatly expresses

industry and even activities such as airline fleet

his conclusions concerning mistakes in the STEM crisis

maintenance have gone offshore.

management as deviations from Bush’s principles.

While Teitelbaum focuses mainly on the negatives of

One mistake identified by Teitelbaum that particularly

the US STEM stimulation experience, he does remind us

caught my eye is the practice of funding PhD studentships

of the nation’s astounding scientific, mathematical and

from research grant money. I noticed it partly because the

technological achievements.

practice is rife here in Australia at least in my general area

In

his

final

chapter, Teitelbaum

offers

some

of science / engineering.The flaw in linking PhD graduate

recommendations on how to manage STEM needs better

production and research funding in this way is that it only

though he expresses doubt that these will be acted upon.

works when research funding is increasing fast enough

Given the book he has just written, this note of pessimism

to absorb the stream of newly minted researchers eager

is hardly surprising.

to apply for funding of their own. A drop in funding rates, or even a levelling off, leaves early researchers high and

Dr Neil Mudford is a Visiting Fellow with UNSW, a casual

dry and career-free. On top of this, having PhD candidates

specialist lecturer with the University of Queensland and a

working on research grant money shrinks the pool of

member of the Australian Universities’ Review editorial

postdoctoral positions necessary for the next career step.

board. His field of research is hypersonic flight, particularly

One of many of Teitelbaum’s telling observations is that

those aspects related to atmospheric entry of spacecraft.

employer reports of STEM worker shortages, on which much of the hue and cry is based, are often code for not being able to hire at a sufficiently low salary and with the poor conditions or prospects. Some of the proper studies Teitelbaum refers to show many STEM-qualified people desert the field for other work attracting better pay and conditions. Hence one strategy to grow the STEM workforce is to offer high pay and secure employment. To those of us in the higher education sector this seems a novel yet promising approach. Many nations, including Australia, are currently making efforts to stimulate STEM study and workforce growth

118

References Bush, V. (1945) Science: The Endless Frontier. A Report to the President by the Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved from http://www.nsf.gov/about/ history/vbush1945.htm. Freeman, B., Marginson, S. & Tytler, R. (Eds.). (2015). The Age of STEM: Educational policy and practice across the world in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. Leitch, D. P. (1970). Roots of Oak. On Open Road [LP record DNLS 3009]. London, UK: Dawn Records. Office of the Chief Scientist (2014). Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future. Canberra: Australian Government. ISBN 978-1-925092-41-7.

Fiddling with STEM? Check your vision first Reviewed by Neil Mudford

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015


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‘By the authority vested in me…’ International Trends in University Governance: Autonomy, self-government and the distribution of authority by Michael Shattock (Ed.). ISBN 1317668200, 9781317668206, Routledge, 226 pp., 2014. Reviewed by Jen Tsen Kwok

International Trends in University Governance brings

tied to the redistribution of public funding, like the Research

together a considerable group of higher education

Excellence Framework in the UK.

specialists under the editorial guidance of Professor

While there are some common strategies at play,

Michael Shattock, former Registrar at the University of

attempts to ‘modernise’ university governance have

Warwick and a seasoned commentator on these issues.

meant different things according to the different

The book is a contribution to the International Studies

traditions. Beneath this claim the authors assert that

in Higher Education series (edited by David Palfreyman,

nation-states are tied to ubiquitous pressures to compete

Ted Tapper and Scott Thomas) which looks at higher

in international markets. The view appears largely

education through the prism of common global pressures

informed by state prerogatives and an academic literature

for change. This series has already published a number

that can demonstrate introducing greater competition

of books relevant to university governance, not in the

for resources builds greater productivity (especially in

least International Perspectives on the Governance of

research) (see Aghion et al., 2008). However, differences in

Higher Education edited by Jeroen Huisman (2009). In

national traditions and the character of legislative reform

chasing international trends, this book contributes to the

have produced different outcomes in the redistribution

literature by drawing upon the seismic transformations

of authority internal to universities, and in particular the

of the last decade to analyse the impact upon national

participation of academic staff.

traditions (and regional models) of university governance. Indeed, the

book

is

primarily

focused

One important argument is that the comparative

upon

evidence does not demonstrate that the greater conferral

understanding governance through the lens of national

of institutional autonomy is by nature aligned with the

and regional traditions. Many others have made the point

protection of individual academic freedom. In one of

before, for instance, Bleiklie and Kogan (2007), Meek

these essays, Jeanette Baird argues that the conferral of

and Davies (2009). Nonetheless, the various articles

institutional autonomy is by-and-large ‘procedural’ and

in the book converge on the historical dimensions of

that ‘operational’ autonomy has in fact decreased (p.

governance systems, with Shattock concluding that,

149). Shattock adds that we are looking at crucial shifts

‘national histories and cultural traditions determine that

in the power dynamics within institutions (p. 188).

there are widely different starting points and that these

When state authority for staff budgets and employment

starting points themselves often determine the direction

functions are transferred to the institution, new areas

of the change process’ (p. 184).

of controversial decision-making must be absorbed by

The authors identify and explore cross-national trends

the existing governance structures. This has encouraged

from the vantage point of specific national systems. One

processes that in practice involves the transfer of power

trend is about unshackling direct controls on funding and

to central administrative staff through the ‘creation of a

internal resource allocation, evident in France, Germany and

new and separate ‘estate’ within the institutional realm’

Italy. Another trend is about arms-length accountability to

(p. 193). The results of such change are not ‘risk-free’.

funding mechanisms and quality assurance bodies, with the

Greater institutional autonomy has failed to empower

development of national quality assurance systems such as

academic participation in decision-making, and has

Australia’s Tertiary Education Quality Assurance Agency, and

tended to push shared governance styles to the periphery,

the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education,

‘The assumption of autonomy by institutions inevitably

or the development of research quality assessment systems

entailed a loss of autonomy for individuals’ (p. 194).

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

‘By the authority vested in me…’ Reviewed by Jen Tsen Kwok

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The strength of this book is its attempt to highlight

within institutions. Another way of seeing this book is

the centrality of relationships between the state and

to submit that the lack of definitional and conceptual

institutions. In turn, attention to these relationships

breadth degrades its analysis of ‘institutional autonomy’.

emphasises the extent of institutional autonomy as a

The interaction between institution and state takes pre-

primary basis for comparison. The nine national studies

imminence, at the expense of other themes, like the

collected here are grouped according to four models: the

role of non-state influences in shaping decision-making.

Humboldtian model, the Napoleonic model, the Japanese

Matters such as the increasing privatisation of funding

model, and the ‘Historically Incorporated’ model. For the

sources, and the governance implications of public-private

Humboldtian and Napoleonic models, where there has

partnerships on research projects do not get a look-in. So,

been conventionally close relationships between the

does it tell a persuasive story about differentiated change

governance of institutions and the state, the tendency has

across governance systems? Yes, and it especially delivers

been toward the devolution of institutional autonomy.

as a comparison of the specific trajectories of legislative

Though the poorly defined ‘Historically Incorporated’

reform introduced within national systems. Does it

model gestures to the fact that in the US, UK and Australia

adequately deal with the implications of the interaction

institutional autonomy is deeply rooted, the imposition

of national systems and higher education institutions

of market conditions and other state practices related to

with global markets? Arguably no. And more consciously

funding models and accountability systems has led to the

defining the scope of university governance would at

centralisation of governance structures, the breaking up of

least have provided a basis to reason why.

collegial traditions, and the removal of autonomy from the academic rank and file. Japan, in contrast, is constructed

Jen Tsen Kwok is a Policy & Research Officer with the NTEU.

as a distinctive tradition, which combines a ‘de jure

He completed his PhD in sociology at the University of

commitment to institutional autonomy but persists de

Queensland in 2013 and continues as an honorary research

facto in a continued close exercise of bureaucratic control

fellow in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry.

over the exercise of autonomy’ (p. 4). According to Jun Oba,‘state intervention still remains strong’ (p. 122). It is important to highlight that this book does not cover the issues ascribed to university governance with the same breadth as certain other publications. Perhaps this is in part shaped by its limited interest in the meaning of university governance. Definition and meaning is demonstrated as immensely important in many other publications (Reed, Meek & Jones, 2002; Tierney, 2006; Ferlie et al., 2009; Huisman, 2009). Some have presented governance as the structure of relationships that brings organisational coherence, authorised policies, plans and decisions, etc. (Gallagher, 2001) including the scope of stakeholders vested in decision-making, or the stakeholders the institution is responsible to. Others have defined governance in terms of patterns of authority and hierarchy (Marginson & Considine, 2000). Many of these approaches acknowledge that the topic has significantly different meanings and modes of evaluation depending upon the context in which it is being examined (Reed, Meek & Jones, 2002). In summary, one way to see the book is as a focused collection of essays, directed to a particular subset of governance questions. These questions are about illustrating how state responses to global challenges and cross-national trends have impacted upon the relative autonomy of institutions, and the distribution of authority

120

‘By the authority vested in me…’ Reviewed by Jen Tsen Kwok

References Aghion, P., M. Dewatripont, C. Hoxby, A. Mas-Colell, & A. Sapir (2008). The Governance and Performance of Research Universities: Evidence from Europe and the US. Centre for Economic Policy Research, European Commission. Bleiklie, I. & M. Kogan. (2007). Organization and Governance of Universities. Higher Education Policy, 20, 477–493. Ferlie, E., C. Musselin, G. Andresani. (2009).The Governance of Higher Education Systems: A Public Management Perspective. In C. Paradeise, E. Reale, I. Bleiklie, E. Ferlie (Eds). University Governance: Western European Comparative Perspectives. Netherlands, Springer, 1-19. Gallagher, M. (2001). Modern University Governance: National Perspective. Paper presented at a conference organised by Australia Institute of Manning Clark House, Australian National University. Huisman, J. (2009). International Perspectives on the Governance of Higher Education: Alternative Frameworks for Coordination. New York: Taylor & Francis. Marginson, S. & M. Considine. (2000). The Enterprise University: Power, Governance and Reinvention in Australia. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Meek, V.L. & Davies, D. (2009). Policy Dynamics in Higher Education and Research: Concepts and Observations. In V.L. Meek, U. Teichler & M. Kearney (eds.). Higher Education Research and Innovation. Paris, UNESCO, 41–82. Reed, M.I., Meek, V.L., & Jones, G.A. (2002). Introduction. In A. Amaral, G.A. Jones, & B. Karseth (Eds). Governing higher education: National perspectives on institutional governance. Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic Publishers, xv–xxxi. Tierney, W.G. (2006). Introduction: The Examined University, Process and Change in Higher Education. W.G. Tierney (Ed.) Governance and the Public Good. Albany, State University of New York Press, 1–10. vol. 57, no. 2, 2015


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(Why do you) Build me up, (Build me up), Buttercup University Trends. Contemporary Campus Design by Jonathan Coulson, Paul Roberts & Isabelle Taylor. ISBN-978-1-138-79729-1, Routledge, 208 pp., 2015. Reviewed by Andrys Onsman

When reviewing a new text about universities, I suspect

To be fair, the unexpected withdrawal of funding for

it is a natural human impulse to head for the index and

proposed new buildings is a point that the book makes

see if your campus rates a mention: especially if it’s a

in a number of places – a good idea is one thing but

book about campus architecture and you are writing the

getting it done is another – and the current downturn

review sitting in the John Wardle and NADAA-designed,

in institutional fortunes has seen the postponement

international

new

or abandonment of a number of campus development

University of Melbourne School of Design’s building.

awards-winning, brand-spanking

proposals worldwide. Consequently, the book includes

Disappointingly, neither the campus nor the building

a number of proposed buildings that have slipped ‘twixt

rates a mention. On the other hand, neither do any of

cup and lip as Shakespeare would say; buildings that were

RMIT’s eye-catching and controversial buildings that

proposed but never constructed. Another example is the

identify the university as a brashly creative tenant of the

detailed comment about Monash University’s master plan

city rate a mention. It’s hard to go past Storey Hall as an

for its Caulfield campus. In actuality, the plans to double

iconic campus building in Melbourne, even if green slime

its size have been shelved, awaiting a more favourable

isn’t your cup of tea but it too fails to get a guernsey.

financial climate, and as the University is currently

Indeed, very few of the many innovative, future-focused,

operating without a margin of financial error, that may be

pedagogically dynamic and exciting campus buildings in

a long time.

Melbourne rate a mention.

Monash University’s New Horizons building, on the

On the contrary, by including a two-page full-colour

other hand, is up and running. It is a unique collaborative

artist’s impression of it, the book implies that the high

space, designed to ‘encourage and facilitate composite

point of Melbourne’s campus design is Moshe Safdie’s

thinking’ and housed in a striking building. Unfortunately,

design for Monash University’s Sir Zelman Cowan’s School

the book ignores the opportunity to explore how that

of Music, to be located at its Clayton campus. Glancing

or any other space might be designed to encourage and

at the pictures, the casual reader would be forgiven for

facilitate composite thinking, or even what composite

agreeing that the building is a worthwhile inclusion in

thinking might be and the photo accompanying the

this book. And should that self-same reader follow up by

paragraph in the book does nothing to illuminate

checking the building on the web, s/he would find a very

anything. Similarly La Trobe’s AgriBio centre, both as a

impressive promotional video, resplendent with first rate

workplace and a building, is an opportunity lost.There is

animation and learn that, according to the fund-raising

no mention how the building is designed to be a part of

rhetoric, the new building will be ‘a fusion of architectural

a landscaped whole; how the interior has been designed

and acoustic design that will produce a visually and aurally

for ideas to flow collaboratively, how the financing,

exciting, iconic building’ – and all of that in a far-flung

construction and management of the building is unique

outer suburb of Melbourne. But should the reader go on

and innovative in itself. And it doesn’t warrant even a

with her or his investigation, s/he would discover that as

non-descript photo. The university’s website does have

yet there is no actual date for when it will be completed

a video if you are interested, even if the authors of the

– presumably when the $100 million plus needed to build

book appear not to have been. In fact, the book tells

it has been raised. And finally, s/he would discover, after a

us that it will ‘sketch the most influential, salient, and

quick consultation with the Head of the Music School that

pervasive trends in architecture typologies and master

it won’t be built in the foreseeable future. Or at all.

planning that are currently at work at HEIs around the

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

(Why do you) Build me up, (Build me up), Buttercup Reviewed by Andrys Onsman

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world’ (p. 11) but the emphasis seems to be on sketch

if a few seem to have been garnered from the Web. All of

rather than anything else.

that is fine, but not all of them add anything to the text –

In broad terms, architectural typology is the comparative study of physical or other characteristics of the built

which in a book about pedagogic spaces surely is one of the points.

environment into distinct types. A type is a set of more-

Putting that concern to the side as well, the proposition

or-less agreed-to defining characteristics: this thing is

that some kind of analysis will be made presupposes

constitutionally close enough to that thing for both to be

that the authors will investigate a significant number

of a type. A thing that is not would be atypical. The point

of representative campuses. However, the superficiality

here is that architectural types are observed phenomena

with which the higher education institutions in my

and architectural typologies are actions or classificatory

hometown are treated made me wonder about other

systems at best. It is a distinction that makes sketching

places. I checked Hangzhou in China, having lived nearby

‘the most influential, salient, and pervasive trends in

for a while, expecting to see a reference to Pritzker Prize

architecture typologies’ a very specific objective. But

winning architect’s Wang Shu. He designed a number

perhaps I am over-finessing the point and the authors are

of campus buildings, including the library at Soochow

simply suggesting that the book will come to some sort

University, the Xiangshan campus of the China Academy

of analysis of where contemporary campuses are headed

of Art, and the teaching building of the Music and Dance

in terms of the type of building that is being favoured – if

Department in Dongguan. Surprisingly, Wang Shu doesn’t

indeed there actually is such a type.

rate a mention. On the other hand, Steven Holl’s design

The opening chapter, entitled The Context, states at the

for an arts centre at Hangzhou Normal University does. If

outset that the ‘idea of a university education is inviolably

I were predisposed towards using popular text acronyms,

associated with a place’ and that ‘Buildings and landscapes

I would ask WTF? Holl is an excellent and renowned

lie at the heart and soul of the university community’ (p.

American architect who designs wonderfully brutal,

10). I’m not sure that the Open University would agree

cube-based buildings, so perhaps it would be unkind to

that the association is inviolable. Nor would the myriad

juxtapose the ‘architectural typology’ of his designs with

of people who attend part-time, in between their jobs

Xi Jinping’s reported call for an end to the ‘weird buildings’

and familial demands. Fifteen years into the twenty-first

being built in China. But even if reacting to the cultural

century, the argument that a university is necessarily

zeitgeist manipulated by socio-political directions issued

housed in a physical space seems just a tad grandpa. But

by the restrictive government of a totalitarian state coming

let’s put that to one side and plough on.The authors state

under increasing economic pressure is not a concern

that in ‘the transition from nineteenth-century traditions

in the book. The President of the People’s Republic of

to a twenty-first century “immersive learningscape”,

China actually did express that concern in no uncertain

the need for agile, flexible spaces that are capable of

terms (http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2014/10/17/

responding to future advances is becoming progressively

xi-jinping-isnt-a-fan-of-weird-architecture-in-china/). Now,

more important’ (p. 11).

that’s an issue worthy of serious investigation from a

There are (unsurprisingly) two aspects to the notion of an

number of angles.

‘Immersive Learningscape’. The first is cognitive: learning

My native Netherlands fare little better. The images

happens best when it is immersive and thereby facilitates

that take up more than three of the four pages spread

a holistic, or at least non-fragmentary, engagement with

on Amsterdam University College also feature on the

task. The second is that the standard classroom doesn’t

archdaily website (http://www.archdaily.com/276548/

lend itself to immersion because it encloses a static and

amsterdam-university-college-mecanoo/).

immutable space. Immersion depends on variation, fit-for-

The text, rather than offering a detailed analysis of the

purpose spaces that allow for multi-sensory interactive

building’s functionality qua pedagogy, mostly presents

learning activities, flexible collaboration, dynamic time

descriptions that at times border on puffery. The authors

apportioning and interactivity way beyond the confines

claim that ‘the building thus far has answered the demands

of the space in which learning is happening. But the

of this new collaborative enterprise’, the collaboration

content of the book is foremost about the outside of

being the Free university of Amsterdam and the University

the buildings, the designed appearance rather than the

of Amsterdam joining forces to offer a cutting edge natural

design for learning (let alone immersive learningscapes)

sciences program taught entirely in English. What is

therein. And the illustrations range from the excellent to

lacking is a verifiable study of if and how the building,

the pedestrian; there are a lot of artist’s impressions even

which certainly is an impressive construction, contributes

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to it in real terms rather than in the imagination of the

in Asia the focus is on the work of Western or Western-

architect.

trained architects, despite the occasional nod to the

The part on the new campus core for the Erasmus

exotic other.The two short chapters on ‘New Universities

University in Rotterdam, the Erasmus Pavilion, follows

Beyond the West’ and ‘Transnational Education’ do little

the same structure with four pages of description and

to broaden that perspective because they both subscribe

three pages of illustrations’, but this time the images

to Western paradigms of architecture, art, education and

are also the Domus site http://www.domusweb.it/en/

culture. Despite the emergence of Chinese and Indian

architecture/2014/01/08/erasmus_pavilion.html.

architects among others who locate their designs in their

In both cases (and however many others in the book) the fact that the illustrations used in the book are identical

respective cultures, the book clings primarily to Western notions of what buildings should be like.

to those used on a website might simply be a matter of the

In the end, the book is neither a considered analysis

relevant architectural offices making the same illustrations

of how the design and construction of campus

available to both those sites and to this book. That isn’t

building either make an architectural statement or are

the issue.The concern is that the book is being illustrated

pedagogically functional, nor a convincing argument

with images meant to depict the architecture for an

that a good campus building manages to accommodate

architectural audience (the target audience of archdaily

both. The book foregoes the opportunity to consider

and Domus) rather than for an educational audience.

where on that scale that ranges between aesthetic

Surely it would be better illustrated with more candid

appeal and pedagogic function a range of international

photos of the buildings in use as educational spaces. As it

campuses have chosen to place their marker, and why.

is, there are more than enough photos of exteriors.

Disappointingly it passes up the chance to consider the

However, my main concern, again, is as much about what is not included as what is showcased as indicative in

consequence of that decision in terms of the functionality as well as the aesthetic of the campus building.

The Netherlands. Although both the Erasmus pavilion and

On the other hand, the book introduces a number

the Amsterdam University College are quite interesting

of trends, some with more traction than others, that

from a design point of view, the Faculty of Architecture

are illustrative of where (principally Western) campus

of the Technical University of Delft’s redevelopment was

architecture is headed. Notions such as hub buildings,

far more impressive, but that event doesn’t rate a mention

adaptive re-use, transnational campuses and partnerships

at all. When the Faculty of Construction’s building in

with industry are important areas of development in how

the Berlageweg caught fire (https://www.youtube.com/

the campus is changing in response the circumjacent

watch?v=bizr86N-4nc) and crashed spectacularly in 2008,

society and the demands placed upon it from within the

the University decided to house the faculty, rebadged as

academy. These and others are hugely important issues

the Faculty of Architecture, within the old and discarded

that require a deal of careful analysis and robust debate.

Chemistry building. It called on the talents of the

I have no concerns whatsoever with the topics chosen

dean, the architect Wytze Patijn, to guide the building’s

but I do have questions about the examples chosen to

redevelopment into a labyrinthine collection of flexible

illustrate those topics and with the manner the examples

and innovative spaces. It is an excellent example of how

are used to support an analysis. In the case of the former,

adaptive re-use can create inspiring and creative spaces

a text such as this ought to ensure that it chooses the best

for learning and teaching, which is what the authors claim

extant examples. If planned buildings are to be included,

the book is all about.

the fact that they do not yet exist should be indicated. For

None of the cities that I am familiar with seem to be

the latter, the analyses should be appropriate, meaningful

represented in a meaningful way; there’s no analysis of any

and add to existing knowledge, else there is the risk of

depth that refers back to what the whole thing is meant

ending up with a coffee table volume of pretty pictures.

to be about, which in turn makes me suspicious about the

University Trends avoids that but it could have been a

representation of the places that I know nothing about.

much more substantial addition to the discourse on

For example, one aspect of any building’s meaningfulness,

campus buildings.

and according to the arguments in the book, especially of a university campus building (p11), is that there is an

Andrys Onsman is a lecturer in the Centre for the Study of

involvement with the circumjacent society.That is a good

Higher Education, University of Melbourne, Australia.

point, so why then do the authors of the book favour Western architecture even in non-Western countries? Even vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

(Why do you) Build me up, (Build me up), Buttercup Reviewed by Andrys Onsman

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Got to pick a pocket or two Students, Markets and Social Justice: Higher Education Fee and Student Support Policies in Western Europe and Beyond by Hubert Ertl & Claire Dupuy (Eds). ISBN 978-1-873927-57-1, Symposium, 214 pp., 2014. Reviewed by Raj Sharma

The purpose of this publication is to consider certain

of program offerings), due to the fact that they were able

recent changes in higher education tuition fee directions

to collect funding from other sources (such as research

in several Western European countries, Canada, the USA

funding), the income gathered from tuition fees was less

and China, and the impact of such changes on access to

important in total revenue terms.

this educational sector. In doing so it provides us with

The book challenges the idea of France being a

an international perspective on this important aspect of

no-fee country in terms of its higher education. Whilst it

higher education.

acknowledges that the administrative rules have set low

In England, student fees for undergraduates were

and stable fees to cover the cost of student registration,

introduced in 1998 in response to under-funding of the

it notes that ‘cost sharing’ (or student fees) has been

higher education sector during a period of increasing

gradually introduced into French private higher education

participation rate for the sector. In particular, an up-front

institutions and certain public institutions (grands

means-tested fee of up to 1,000 was introduced in 1998;

ecoles). The possibility of future introduction of income-

the fee was set at up to 3,000 in 2006; and a ‘student

contingent student loan system is also suggested for the

contribution’ of up to 9,000 relating to home and

country.

European Union undergraduates at English universities

In Germany, a federal nation, tuition fees in higher

was set in 2012. The ‘student fees’ was in the form of an

education is a state government responsibility. After a

income contingent loan. It is therefore not surprising

peak number of seven states introducing tuition fees by

that student decisions about enrolment do not appear

2007, progressively all states had abolished such fees by

to be fee-centred but rather are based on factors such as

2014. It is suggested that higher education tuition fees in

perceptions of graduate employability and salaries.

Germany has limited political legitimacy due to a broad-

The publication then turns its attention to certain

based welfare state tradition in that country.

aspects of Portuguese higher education tuition fees

The Dutch have moved towards ‘cost-sharing’ with

revenue. It reports that until 1992 very low tuition fees

higher education students and resulting in tuition levels

(amounting to 6 per annum) were charged in by public

being increased in absolute and real terms. However, it

institutions, but then a new means tested and significant

was found that growth in tuition rates has not hindered

fee (300 per annum) was introduced. In 1997 a level

students’ participation in higher education.

of tuition fees equal for all students in public higher

In the USA there are three broad types of higher

education institutions was introduced and linked to the

education institutions – public, private non-profit and

national monthly minimum wage. The new Portuguese

private for-profit institutions. This publication’s primary

funding law of 2003 not only increased the level of tuition

focus is on public higher education institutions’ student

fees, but also established a range within which institutions

funding in America using the University of California as

could define their own fee level. However, it is noted

the case study. It is noted that historically most public

that most Portuguese institutions charged the maximum

higher education institutions received a substantial

permissible tuition fees. The Portuguese study also

proportion of their funding from the state in which they

reported that revenues from tuition fees were relatively

are located. However, in recent times there has been a

more important in smaller and less diversified universities,

significant decline in state funding of public universities,

but in larger and more diversified institutions (in terms

resulting in large increases in tuition fees over the past

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decade. But the students are able to access federal

in terms of tuition fees – 75 per cent over five years.

government financial aid. This financial aid can be in the

However, with the subsequent mobilisation of students

form of grants (depending on the socio-economic status

(the so-called Quiet Revolution) and later change of

of students) or student loans. The publication suggests

government, this policy direction was abandoned. Indeed

a positive relationship between federal government

the new Quebec government has limited increases in

financial subsidies and access to higher education for

higher education tuition fees, made changes in financing

under-represented social groups.

for students based on their capacity to pay and places

The publication then turns its attention to China. It notes

greater attention on university governance.

that tuition fees policies in Chinese higher education have

Although the book is an interesting one, it is apparent

experienced three stages since 1949. During the period

that whilst Australia is not given consideration, our

1949 to 1979 only a relatively small number of highly

politicians appear to be ‘ahead’ of the game in terms of

talented students could access Chinese higher education

introduction of certain aspects of students’ financial

and they all received tuition fees waivers and a stipend

contributions to higher education. For instance, although

during study years to cover living costs. During the period

the French are beginning to consider the concept of

1980 to 1996 Chinese university students were divided

student income-contingent student loans, education

into two streams- publicly funded students who received

minister The Hon. John Dawkins introduced it in Australia

free education and self and employer funded students.

during the late 1980s! But have we gone too far in terms

Since 1997 all Chinese higher education institutions have

of student contributions in Australia? That is another

charged students tuition fees set at 25 per cent of the

matter for possible closer assessment in the future.

average per capita annual teaching costs. The final chapter considers the higher education

Raj Sharma is a higher education consultant, having worked

funding policy in Quebec, Canada. It mentions how the

in the tertiary education sector for four decades in three

Quebec Liberal Party Government (2008-2012) attempted

Australian states.

to increase university revenues by a substantial increment

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

Got to pick a pocket or two Reviewed by Raj Sharma

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Scotty, dean me up! Inside the Role of the Dean by Renee T. Clift, John Loughran, Geoffrey E. Mills & Cheryl J. Craig (Eds.). ISBN 978-1-138 -82862-9, London: Routledge, pp 196., 2015,. Reviewed by Andrys Onsman

What is the point of this book? It certainly doesn’t make

to happen, and as Theo Wubbels implies, as dean, you are

‘deaning’ an attractive proposition. Most contributors

the one who has to tell the troops. Henry V never had it

point out that it is a lousy job, one that will lose you

so tough.

friends, professional satisfaction, sleep and confidence in

Renee Clift gives an interesting account of the workload

yourself as a worthwhile human being. If you think I’m

of associate dean, which in the USA seems to be a more

over-stating the case, Mills, one of the editors, in his essay

authoritative role than most associate dean positions in

about how to get back into the real world when you get

Australia, pointing out that everyone and everything make

out of the role, advises that you ‘allow yourself time to

demands on your time. Some of the contributors confess

heal’ (p. 158). Why on Earth would you get yourself into a

to blacking out chunks of their calendars to get some

job from which you have to heal?

research time in, but I doubt that it’s a workable tactic

By way of disclaimer I’ve never been a dean of a faculty

because real research takes bucket loads of time. The

of education. I spent a year as ‘head of school’ on a far-

simple truth of the matter is that a dean cannot afford to

flung campus of a major English university, but I had a

miss meetings because if she’s not there to make sure her

real dean an email away, so it wasn’t the same as actually

faculty gets a slice, the entire cake will disappear. Deaning,

having to carry the can. Even though it did give me a taste

it appears, is all about attending meetings – lots and lots

of what it would be like, I know that it was unlike the real

of meetings.

thing because the healing didn’t take very long.

Floating amongst all the essays is a wistful air of

The book is divided into four sections: understanding

nostalgia, as if each of the deans is using his or her essay

self in relation to role; explicating leadership; a focus on

to reflect on how good life used to be and with a bit of

leading in teacher education; and learning when to leave.

luck, how it will be good again when the sentence has

John Loughran from Monash University coined the term

been served. But Gore and Mills disabuse the reader of

‘deaning’ as a way of describing what a dean does, even

that illusion by revealing that deaning is a watershed –

though every dean does different things. The idea that

once done, you can’t undo it. It isn’t like surviving cancer

there isn’t a blue-print for the job is a message reiterated

or returning from war where you get patted on the back.

throughout the collection, but there are some common

It seems more like being released from jail: although

themes that emerge almost by default.

you’ve done your time, no one is entirely sure that you

Loughran kicks off proceedings with an essay – and

won’t re-offend. And no one is going to invite you to their

each chapter is a polemical essay rather than a research

place for dinner anymore. That analogy may be a little

paper – on how becoming a dean puts paid to being a

dramatically over-wrought, but you get the drift.You can’t

professor; i.e. someone who has a tenable and fruitful

simply sink back down amongst the troops because the

research program, who teaches and who contributes

new dean will be side-tracked by wondering what you’re

to the running of the faculty as required. In fact, most

thinking and your colleagues will be worried that you

contributors refer to being disappointed or frustrated at

know things like burial places, fingerprints on shovels and

having to manage rather than lead. Moving to the ‘dark

so on. It’s like when Kevin Rudd went to the backbenches

side’ is mentioned several times, and not once positively.

– and remember how well that worked out for the new

One or two try to convince themselves that a leader can

dean. The leprotic status of ex-dean seems a lesson well

manage or that a manager can lead but it remains an

worth learning.

unconvincing argument. You can be as inspirational as

And don’t expect any kind of meaningful reward

you like but if the bean counters say no, it’s not going

beyond the dollars. Gore advises incumbents to consider

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that ‘the struggle is the reward’ which is hardly a ringing

by the demands placed on them. Maybe that is something

endorsement unless you’re a penitent Christian in a

limited to Education faculties, which is what this book is

hair-shirt. Most of the contributors articulated their

mainly about.

frustration at not being able to do the things that they

In summary, it’s a really interesting if somewhat

wanted or achieving anywhere near what they thought

depressing book, well worth reading as a collection

they would. Lack of support from above, lack of support

of profession-based autobiographical statements. Each

from below, lack of resources, lack of time, there appear

essay reveals a lot about its author. Some of the essays

to be myriad obstacles deliberately placed in the way of

are genuinely moving and almost make you want to

achievement, each with a locus of control external to the

apologise to past and present deans who you’ve slighted

dean. You’re forced into the ring with your hands tied

behind their backs – until you remember that they

behind your back.

didn’t wholeheartedly support your last application for

So, why do it – assuming you have a choice? Mills offers

promotion.

one reason:‘… you can’t get to the penultimate leadership

It is not a ‘how-to’ book; you won’t learn anything

role in the university system without working your way

about what to do, but you might get a taste of what you’ll

through the dean’s office’ (p. 156).That’s not exactly true;

become.

I can list several DVCs and PVCs who have never been deans, but even if it were, it seems a poor reason to head up

When not reviewing books for AUR, Andrys Onsman is a

a faculty. I prefer the stories in the collection that describe

soccer tragic and a learning and teaching advisor with the

how they came to the role with high expectations – even

Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of

though they all seem to have had that crushed out of them

Melbourne, Australia.

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

Scotty, dean me up! Reviewed by Andrys Onsman

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Schooling with use-value – Learning from the USA Schooling Corporate Citizens: How Accountability Reform Has Damaged Civic Education and Undermined Democracy by Ronald W. Evans. ISBN: 9781317657880, New York: Routledge, pb. xiv+290 pp., 2014. Review by Thomas Klikauer Based on extensive empirical work, Ronald Evans’

a typical Orwellian state of mind – created the exact

Schooling Corporate Citizens presents an insightful

opposite, namely leaving plenty of children behind. Some

description of education in the USA roughly from

might remember that George Orwell’s ‘torture chamber

the Reagan years to now. The book focuses on three

is at the Ministry of Love’. Disparagingly, the post-Bush

forces that shaped American education, namely neo-

politics of Obama did not reverse the corporate takeover

conservatism starting with Reagan and continuing with

of education, instead resulting in a ‘race to nowhere’, as

the Presidents Bush (Sr. and Jr.); the influences of business

the final chapter outlines.

and corporations; and finally – given the specificity of the

Some might remember the state-mandated standardised

USA – the strong and never to be underestimated impact

tests that ‘passionate discussions, student projects, brain-

of the religious right. The overall focus is on the interface

storming, decision making, evaluating choices and

between state, neo-conservative politics, and business

alternatives, and emphasis on the competing ideas that

with the latter shaping, if not inventing, the ideology of

make … studying so interesting and important become

‘accountability’. Accountability is what Evans takes to

less frequent, even rare’ (p. 3). In other words, what

task. He starts with the very beginning. His investigation

German philosopher Habermas (1997) would call ‘the

into the origins of accountability is followed by a second

colonisation of the lifeworld’ occurs when system alien

and rather decisive ideology. This came when portraying

ideologies such as corporate policies (accountability)

education during the 1960s as bringing a nation at risk

colonise a lifeworld that was previously structured

as the title of the report indicated: ‘A Nation at Risk’,

rather differently, namely by education rather than

the 1983 report of Reagan’s National Commission on

corporate imperatives. Under the colonisation of business

Excellence in Education. In essence, the neo-conservative’s

imperatives, even Henry Ford’s standardisation reaches

accountability idea is an ideological vehicle born in a

education. From now on, not just every door fits into every

reactionary and backward looking ‘counter-revolution’, to

car – but every trained human resource fits into every slot

some extent set against more liberal attempts to create

that capitalism has designed for it. Like the car door, the

schools for citizens rather than for corporations.

human being is standardised, measured, accounted for, and

Evans follows this up with a detailed analysis of the

fitted. Evans’ corporate citizen is no longer a citizen but

impact of these ideological forces using the example of

has corporate use-value. Rousseau’s idea of a democratic

‘the social studies curriculum’. Meanwhile, under Reagan

and enlightened citizen becomes a functional appendix

and Bush Sr., ‘business took charge’ of education in a

to the eternal mega-machine of consumer capitalism and

monumental ‘battle over standards’. These are no longer

managerial regimes.

educational standards but business standards. Meanwhile,

This is neither unique to the USA nor really new, as

education moved from the states to the power centre

not only ‘American culture has long been dominated

of Washington. This is flanked by the ideology of small

by capitalism and rugged individualism, so it is not

government pretending to be against Washington.

too surprising that schools are influenced by these

Contradictions have never stopped ideologies – rather

traditions’ (p. 4). Perhaps universities are also influenced.

to the contrary. Perhaps the peak of neo-conservatism

As a consequence, Evans notes, ‘my thesis in this book is

and business in education is reached with Bush Jr.’s ‘no

that the origins of accountability reform in schools can

children left behind’ politics resulting in a law that – in

be found in the confluence of business, government,

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and

This was flanked by the ideology of a ‘return to traditional

educators, and the religious right’ (p. 5).At the educational

forms of education [with an] overwhelming emphasis of

level ‘accountability reform has led to a narrowing of the

school curricula on the transmission of information’ (p. 66).

curricular [with] increased attention to test preparation’

All of this, so Evans argues, was heavily critiqued by ‘critical

(p. 6). Perhaps many Australian universities are not totally

pedagogy’ relying on European ideas such as the Frankfurt

unfamiliar with this.

School, neo-Marxist social theory, and structuralism’

Also not unique to the USA is the following argument.

with the pinnacle of ‘Schooling in Capitalist America’

Evans’ origin of accountability starts with ‘over the years,

(1976). Perhaps in a rather classical ‘power-knowledge’

the business sector has been one of the dominant groups

contradiction – conservatism has the power while critical

demanding and inspiring reform’ (p. 9). In this, the term

pedagogy has the knowledge. Education did not become

‘reform’ no longer carries connotations to what Martin

humanised as those with knowledge of education would

Luther had in mind when his ‘reformation’ sought to

have argued. Instead, the powerful won and ‘business took

reform the Catholic Church. Rather ‘reform’ is to be

charge’ as Evans argues. Hence, ‘the Business Round Table

understood as part of Hayek’s political catechism of neo-

Call to Action’ demanded a restructuring of education

liberalism with which reform has long become an ideology

towards the ‘principles of excellence, accountability

that needs to achieve the essential three goals of ideology:

and quality control’. These are clear representations of

cementing domination, camouflaging contradictions, and

the aforementioned colonisation of the lifeworld. Non-

preventing emancipation. Institutionally, this is expressed

educational ideologies such as ‘excellence, accountability

when school principals become CEOs ‘and their deputies

and quality control’ colonise education.

[become] chief operating officers and chief academic

Accountability was made up by the corporate mass

officers’ (p. 10). It might only be a matter of time until

media (e.g. Washington Post) to appear as ‘a necessary

the first university has such a CEO, a COO, a CAO and,

next step towards making American school children

of course, the all-important CFO (chief financial officer)

more competitive [while] the Christian Science Monitor

as universities drift from carrying educational imperatives

reported that competition was the … byword’ (p. 103)

but are based on financial imperatives, not ‘producing’

of education. Of course, this was strongly favoured by

students but human resources with real use-value under

the ‘brass heads of large corporations assembled in the

the ‘human capital orientation’ (p. 11). This was designed

National Association of Manufacturers’ (p.107) and

to eliminate humanism so that it, in the words of American

compliant university departments supplying helpful

conservatives ‘no longer molest your child’. Instead, the

ideological material, thinks tanks (Heritage, Cato, Hoover),

emphasis was on reading, writing, and arithmetic’ (p. 18).

and the power elite of corporate wealth (Koch, etc.) as

In terms of economic ideology, Evans offers two

well as tobacco representative Lewis Powell (from Philip

frameworks under which accountability in education can

Morris). Powell not only participated in the engineered

be interpreted. The first is the aforementioned human

killing of roughly 100 million people by the tobacco

capital theory (e.g. Hayek’s neo-liberalism) and the second

corporations during the course of the 20th century

a political economic analysis ‘emphasising the tendency

(Benson & Kirsch 2010) but he also ‘offered a blueprint

of schooling to perpetuate and reproduce inequalities

for corporate domination of American democracy and a

of wealth and power’ (p.27). Under both economic

call to arms for class warfare’ (p. 108) from above.

theories, schools are no longer equalisers but stratification

Armed with that, ‘the battle over standards’ (p. 139)

institutions with the former theory seeking this while

was never a battle of ‘just’ standards but the imposition

the latter theory sees this as pathologies. Meanwhile the

of business and corporate standards onto education

former was systematically and most forcefully enhanced

resulting in ‘clear national standards of performance’. But

with Reagan’s ‘watershed reform report’, A Nation at

the corporate influence on education did not ease during

Risk. Perhaps one should not forget that ‘Reagan carried

the immediate post-Bush Sr. years because ‘throughout

44 states receiving 50.7% of the popular vote’. He clearly

the year of the Clinton administration, business influence

had a democratic mandate for such reforms, albeit mass-

on school reform continued to grow’. Hence, corporate

manufactured by corporate mass media. Hammered by

CEOs such as IBM’s Louis Gerstner demanded the

corporate mass media, business lobbying and Reagan

‘…[encouragement

himself, ‘the “at risk” thesis was firmly entrenched by the

decentralised power and market competition among

end of his presidency [setting] a strong foundation for

schools’. All this led the way for the ultimate triumph of

business involvement in schooling’ (p. 50).

business access to education under Bush Jr’s ‘no child

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of]

entrepreneurship…through

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left behind’ Act. It rehearsed, if not built on, the earlier

‘unveiled his education platform … including more

established ‘at risk’ ideology. School reform was made up

accountability … walking in the footsteps of his recent

to be important ‘because the wellbeing of companies

predecessors by sounding themes of accountability

and every American is at stake’. Rather unsurprisingly,

based on standards and assessments, performance-based

‘another important source of corporate influence came

pay for teachers, and expansion of chartered schools’.

through a new influx of money for school reform paid

Evans’ overall conclusion on the Obama years is that ‘in

for and directed by a ‘billionaire boys’ club, made up of

most ways, Barack Obama’s record on education reform

foundations determined to remake and improve education

rivals George W. Bush at playing the theme of test, sort,

by applying business- and market-driven reform ideas’.

discipline, and punish’.

Again, the ever increasing colonisation of the educational

Evans’ final conclusion notes that ‘school reform in

lifeworld was sharply critiqued in Alfie Kohn’s ‘Education

the 20th century is haunted by ghosts … the ghosts of

Inc.’; Emery and O’Hanian’s ‘Why is Corporate America

Adam Smith and Milton Friedman … and Ronald Reagan’

Bashing Our Schools?’; Bracy’s ‘The War Against America’s

(p. 255) not to mention Friedrich von Hayek. This period

Public Schools’; Steinberg and Kinchloe’s ‘What Don’t You

was defined by ‘two major shifts … the first was the rising

Know About Schools’; Apple’s ‘Education the Right Way’;

influence of business on schools’ (p.255).The second shift

and perhaps most importantly Meier’s essay on ‘How the

was a change in the overall educational philosophy. But

No Child Left Behind Act is Damaging our Children and our

this is not to be understood in the real meaning of the

Schools’ and Nichols’ ‘Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes

word ‘philosophy’, namely φιλοσοφία (philosophia), the

Testing Corrupts America’s Schools’. But ideologies such as

‘love of wisdom’ as neither business, nor corporations, nor

‘no child left behind’ are never about knowledge and rational

politicians such as Reagan and Bush (Sr. and Jr.), nor the

arguments. Ideologies are about power and domination.

religious right have any interest in wisdom. Instead, their

Critique, knowledge and even scientific analysis are blanked

interest is advancing the political catechism of Hayek’s

out and eliminated in order to camouflage contradictions,

neo-liberalism under the hooding of accountability and a

cement domination, and prevent emancipation.

few other adjacent ideologies.

As a result, neo-liberal ideologies march on regardless.

But their interest is also in creating students with

Evans concludes,‘the larger context of growing corporate

use-value to be processed by and for corporate

influence upon American society mirrored by the

capitalism. Ideologically, this is sold under headings

growing disparities in wealth, income and power meant

such as accountability, testing, assessments, standards,

that school reform based on application of business

performance, excellence, and competition. The overall

principles drawn from market capitalism was part of

lesson from Evans’ most delightful and exquisite account

a larger shift towards rule by an oligarchy’ (p. 208). And

of the recent years of educational policy in the USA

Bush Jr. was the clear and present representative of this

is, perhaps, that whenever Australian politicians (e.g.

oligarchy when at a corporate dinner he said, ‘this is an

‘Gillard…touted New York’s…school accountability as

impressive crowd – the haves and the have-mores. Some

the world’s best’, (Donnelly, 2010)) flaunt the educational

people call you the elites; I call you my base’ (wikiquote.

achievements of the USA, one might like to become

org/wiki/George_W._Bush). With that, the ever increasing

tremendously apprehensive.

stratification between the haves and have-nots marches on in the USA, underscored by education with rich areas

Thomas Klikauer is American-educated and author of

paying tax, affording good schools and getting good jobs

Managerialism (Palgrave, 2013). He teaches MBA students at

and, in return, paying sufficient tax to have good schools

Sydney Graduate School of Management, UWS, Australia.

to get good education for good jobs. Meanwhile on the have-nots’ side, the very opposite occurs: poor areas with poor jobs paying insufficient tax result in bad schools with badly educated students getting bad jobs to, in return, paying insufficient tax to have under-developed schools getting bad education for bad jobs. And so the circle of poverty carries on, kindly supported by policies that advantage ‘the haves’ (Bush) even more. With the scene firmly set or better entrenched, education entered the Obama presidency when he

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References Benson, P. & Kirsch, S. (2010). Capitalism and the Politics of Resignation, Current Anthropology, 51(4), 459–486. Bowles, S. & Gintis, H. (1976). Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life, New York: Basic Books. Donnelly, K. (2010). New York schools have failed the test, The Age, 12 November 2010 (http://www.theage.com.au). Habermas, J. (1997). The Theory of Communicative Action: Reason and the Rationalisation of Society, Vol. I & II, reprint, Cambridge: Polity Press.

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Desktop resource for institutional research Institutional Research and Planning in Higher Education: Global Contexts and Themes by Karen Webber & Angel Calderon (Eds). ISBN 978-1138021433 hc, Routledge, London & New York, 264 pp., 2015. Reviewed by Nigel Palmer

Webber and Calderon have put together an excellent

emerging role of decision-support systems and strategic

desktop resource for higher education policy and

development at the institution level.A key consideration

research. Institutional Research and Planning in

here is the extent to which decision makers at the

Higher Education charts linkages between system-

institution-level are influenced by the merits of

level issues in higher education around the world with

evidence-based decision making, or not. The book also

challenges faced at the institution-level. The book is a

touches on other ‘pet peeves’ of institutional research,

great resource for those who may be feeling ‘siloed’ in

such as misunderstandings in the definition and use of

their organisation, providing valuable context and useful

statistics and the extent to which institutional research

resources on a broad range of issues. The book also

can be usurped by rankings, all of which makes for

invites the reader to reflect on the commonalities and

interesting reading.

differences between institutional research and related

Front-of-mind for many institutional researchers is

activities such as policy or educational research, and

that their local responsibilities often mean that research

on academic planning and institutional research as a

they conduct and the innovations they achieve are

nascent discipline in-the-making.

often kept from the public domain. Decisions support

Among the take-away’s from the book is the increasing

and ‘business intelligence’ related research are typically

convergence of both global and local factors in

tied to institutional decision making with the aim of

institutional research.Webber and Calderon invite readers

making the institution more competitive than its peers,

to explore commonalities and differences between

or at least, minimising the risk of falling too far behind.

educational systems, and bring together a collection

As such, research conducted to inform these decisions

of quality chapters by policy experts from around the

is often highly sensitive and unlikely to see the light of

world. Themes include the balance between system

day in terms of published research. To my reading this

governance, institutional planning, quality assurance

tension captures the ‘disciplinary’ challenges faced in

and market forces. The global focus makes for engaging

institutional research most distinctively. One of the

reading, and there are some gems in this book for policy

interesting up-shots of this paradox is that what does get

researchers (my favourite being Saavedra et al.’s excellent

published tends to be more strategic, being less about

summary of quality assurance and institutional research

content and more about process in responding to issues

in Latin America). It also provides insight into some of

in common, and this is reflected in the chapters brought

the more ‘cutting edge’ issues in institutional research.

together here.

These include the increasing prominence of data

The book provides a concise and accessible overview

analytics in informing institutional strategies, the idea of

of institutional research and planning in higher education.

an institutional ‘knowledge footprint’ and how evolving

The contributions are certainly more substance than spin,

capabilities in this area align with institutional priorities

and it is refreshing that the aims and neither over-stated

in policy and in practice.

nor over-hyped. The only criticism here is reserved for

Institutional Research and Planning highlights the

the publishers: the faint typeface used implies that books

close alignment between institutional research and

are meant to be published rather than read, and the poor

strategic decision making in higher education, and the

reproduction by Routledge in this case short-changes

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015

Desktop resource for institutional research Reviewed by Nigel Palmer

131


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the good efforts of the authors and the quality of work

Nigel Palmer is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre

that has been brought together by Webber and Calderon.

for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne,

Despite this, the book makes a coherent and substantial

Australia.

W

contribution, with each chapter demonstrating rigor, relevance and originality. Its audience includes those directly engaged in higher education planning and institutional research but is also accessible to a broader readership. It provides a useful roadmap for the field – one that I am sure will serve as a firm foundation for continued development and as a guide for collaboration and research now and in the future.

132

Desktop resource for institutional research Reviewed by Nigel Palmer

vol. 57, no. 2, 2015


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