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Sometimes it is most valuable to see beyond the surface of reports like the one I quote below and consider the wider ramifications and look to the reasons for attending tertiary education in the first instance.
Despite the Dawkins reforms of 1989 creating a mass university system and the introduction of income contingent loans, students from the bottom 25per cent of postcodes ranked according to wealth and education make up only 15per cent of university admissions. In contrast, the wealthiest 25per cent claim a disproportionate 37per cent of places.
While the numbers of low-socio-economic students getting into university grew to 43,383 last year from 36,150 10 years ago, there has been little progress in denting their chronic underrepresentation.
Promoting access is set to be central to recommendations from Canberra’s Bradley review of higher education that will be released next month.
Universities are likely to be given more incentives to widen access at a time when more and more vice-chancellors are also looking to base this access beyond narrow statewide exam results to take into account background and broader achievements.
“Through no one’s fault, the universities are complicit with schools and the state Government in running secondary school education tests that necessarily disadvantage sections of the population,” La Trobe University vice-chancellor Paul Johnson told The Weekend Australian.
Macquarie University vice-chancellor Steven Schwartz has said: ‘Unless we believe that students from low-income families lack the ability or the motivation for university-level study, the absence of talented students from our campuses represents not only a loss to them but also to society”.
Now when I was a much younger man I really believed that attending university was by far the most valuable thing that anyone could do to secure their future, and I went to great lengths to first achieve my matriculation, (as an adult student) and then to get a degree myself. Boy was it a fun time I loved the life of a student, It was interesting and stimulating and from a social point of view the lifestyle was great. but now that I am a parent and I have to look to the education of my own children I am beginning to question the real value of university study and to wonder if a degree for all is really the best thing that a society can aspire to.
Do we really think that even the chap operating a back hoe needs a degree in Excovatory Ditchology? Or that the waiters in a restaurants need a PHD in Food Service & Tableology? I can’t help thinking more and more that academics decrying a lack of participation or a lack of funding for universities are really just using such rhetoric to feather their own nests and that as a whole society we just do not need everyone attending university. Personally I think that learning a trade is a better use of a young persons time and energy, unless they have a very special talent or facility for academic study, ah but that would not provide the opportunities for those in the halls of academia to expand their empires and further their own careers now would it?
Something to consider Comrades
Its an article of faith for many to say that more education for young people is always a good thing and in the workplace and the jobs market qualification for so many positions are ever increasing. in Fact I have mocked this trend for its conceits and emptiness on several occasions. So I find it quite refreshing to see a piece in today’s Age that points out the social folly of keeping the academically less gifted in education beyond the point where our society gets any benefit.
According to a 2000 survey conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research and the federal government, 35 per cent of state school students completed year 12 in 1984. By 1994 the number of students completing year 12 had risen to 74 per cent.
No doubt, encouraging children to stay at school is enormously beneficial for the individual and society, but it also leads to some students continuing with school when they probably would have been better off leaving earlier and doing something else.
The point that’s often missed by social commentators is that the ugly side of schoolies is largely due to the behaviour of students who performed poorly in year 12. It’s the kind of student who repeatedly neglects homework and refuses to attend after-school detentions because they work up to five nights a week.
I suspect these underperforming and disengaged students are behind the interstate schoolies shenanigans that we see on news bulletins.
It is these borderline ”toolies” who don’t have much to celebrate at the end of the school year other than perhaps a bare pass that the media tends to focus on.
Hard-working sensible students who prefer to celebrate the end of their secondary schooling in a less sensational manner receive no media attention. One of my year 12 students plans to catch up with her girlfriend for an all-night horror film fest at home. Another student said that she’d ”rather have a quiet time with some mates, just enjoying each other’s company, maybe go on a road trip”. She went on to explain that ”schoolies is no longer a celebration of finishing high school, but another excuse to get drunk and party all week”.
Schoolies has become an ugly affair partly because there are far more kids completing VCE these days – many of whom shouldn’t be there. For these kids, schoolies is nothing more than a dead-end rite of passage for a dead-end education.
In an age when our governments are struggling to find adequate resources to properly fund education maybe the time has come to do a little judicious pruning and encourage those less academically gifted to leave school sooner rather than later because if they are not actually learning they make it more difficult for those that are to excel.
My bold in quote
”So there is no question of injustice to public schools here. If anything, the injustice is the other way.”
I’ve been laid a bit low of late with the sadly not unusual back pain and of course it does tend to blacken one’s mood and it also tends to make me rather indifferent to some of the machinations of politics at present . The latest news poll shows that Labor have marginally improved their standing with the voters by a minuscule 2% to a 2PP 35% while some of my friends from the left see this as “The tide turning” I can’t help just feeling sorry for those poor desperate and deluded souls who think that Gillard can possibly get the voters to listen too her let alone decide to give her their votes again. Those same friends from the left are getting very excited by this story getting a run in the Fairfax press and they seem to me to missing the point that Tony Abbot was making about the Government funding per student definitely being in favour of the students in public schools. This is what he said:
Addressing a meeting of the Independent Schools Council of Australia yesterday, Mr Abbott stressed the Coalition’s opposition to the Gonski review’s recommendation to overhaul school funding.
”Overall, the 66 per cent of Australian school students who attend public schools get 79 per cent of government funding,” he said. ”The 34 per cent of Australians who attend independent schools get just 21 per cent of government funding.
”So there is no question of injustice to public schools here. If anything, the injustice is the other way.”
The loopy Greens deserve unending approbation because they are, well loopy 😉 and the reason that they are so rightly mocked (here and elsewhere) is that they constantly offer policies to the voters that are just not in any sense practical or financially viable:
Federal Government documents reveal the Greens’ election commitments for education would have cost billions of dollars a year.
The Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations estimates the Greens’ plan to provide free university education and abolish existing HECS debt would cost $23 billion.
The details are contained in advice to the Government and released under Freedom of Information laws.
The department says it examined the policies in light of the hung parliament.
The document also reveals the Greens’ policy to expand youth allowance payments for students would cost an extra $1 billion a year.
For a mob who are lauded as the only place for a “progressive” to offer their vote it would be nice if they could actually add up but more worrying is the fact that they have this mad idea that every one should extend their childhoods so that they can attend a university or college. The reality is that there are only a limited number of professions that really need a tertiary qualification. There is a clear electoral advantage for the Greens in saying that they want to abolish all existing HECS debts, it plays very to their inner-city Latte sipping demographic many of whom are university graduates with HECS debts. As I said in the earlier post I link to we have a pretty good system in this country; Any academically qualified person can get a place in a university course but the fact that they will have to eventually pay for their own education seems fair enough to me (and I have two children who may want to got to university) because as long as a degree has = some value to the scramble for success in life it has to be worth those who benefit from a university education paying for it when they are able to do so and if some of those talented people work out other ways to succeed won’t we as a society be better off?
When someone said that “life was not meant to be easy” they were telling a most salient truth because if we smooth out the road to social and academic achievement too much then we do the upcoming cohorts of students a grave disservice and devalue each and every degree that is thus earned.
The “Education Revolution”
As a parent I acknowledge that we all want our children to have the best start in life that we can give them. We want their schooling to give them the intellectual and physiological skill sets that will allow them to pursue any sort of career that they may desire. There is however a notion among both the Far left Greens and the Ruddites that a university degree should be part of every Childs education. These people would have it that a degree would be a prerequisite for every job; a manual labourer would just about require a degree in Ditchology to use a shovel in a drainage trench according to the Ruddites.
When I was at school many of my fellows left their education at 15 and actually learnt their professions as apprentices or they worked their way up through the ranks in the places of employment. Only a relatively small number completed the last two years of high school and then an even smaller number went on to partake in tertiary study. None the less as a society we managed to train enough doctors , lawyers scientists and academics to meet our needs.
Lets look at the sort of education that the Leftists really wants to see for our children at the three levels of our system.
At the primary level we have a large number of fans for the teaching of language with methods that result in children that can’t work out unfamiliar words, and who want to praise children for their every effort (or lack there off), no matter how they have understood the information, this ethos tells them that the child’s “self esteem “ is more important than their actual learning and understanding. They don’t want any sort of assessment or exams that might actually show what the child has learnt because they claim that it may harm the aforementioned “self esteem”. When their innovative teaching methods are shown not to produce better outcomes than that which the replace they still fight tooth and nail to retain them and usually they will complain that the failure is due to a lack of resources. Like wise it is the leftist that gave us for a period assessment schemes that were more like the dodo race in Alice in Wonderland than something to measure the progress of our children.
Once children reach High School the teachers, following the education union agenda, really try to do a number on the children working hard to ensure that they are indoctrinated with the leftist orthodoxy on the environment, ethics, politics, religion, sexuality, and lifestyle. In fact want to make all of their charges into copies of themselves. Now under the coalition government we have seen their worst excesses stridently resisted, “Outcomes based education” would still be abusing the children of Western Australia if the current federal government had not insisted that it stop. Despite some very vociferous objections the coalition Education ministers have worked very hard for common sense in the way that our children are taught at school.
The attitude to history is a good example. Under the leftist agenda as a nation that has grown from a British colony is something to actually be ashamed of, largely based upon the notion that the British “stole” the land from its indigenous people. So we have seen the story of this nation has been quietly ignored to become nothing more than an adjunct to more amorphous subjects like “people and society”. Even though our nation now comprises immigrants from all over the world it is important that all students have son understanding of how this nation came to be and just how the good and bad aspects of our society have resulted from what is a rather admirable struggle to forge a new kind of society on a largely empty land.
Under the Ruddite rule there will be nothing to stop the excesses of the education unions and we will see more disasters for our children like “outcomes based eduction.”. What is the point of giving every high school student a lap top computer if what they will learn on them is more of the leftist orthodoxy courtesy of the education unions?
Then we come to the matter of the “higher education sector” The aphorism that I am reminded of here is the old but still very true one that says “ those who can, do; those who cant teach. Our universities have become the refuge of the leftist ideologues, particularly in any of the humanities departments. The hard sciences and the engineering departments tend to be filled with far more pragmatic people. This however is not really what we should be considering here when it comes to what we want or need from tertiary education. Believe it or not I think that there is a great deal to recommend any scheme that allows any person in this country to attend a university. And the reality is that under the present regime just about anyone who has the ability and the determination can study at the university of his or her choice. The HECS scheme even ensures that if someone does not ultimately get a well paying job after their studies they will never have to pay back the debt. Let us however consider the necessity, incurring that debt in the first place.
The purpose of tertiary study should be to acquire skills that enable someone to undertake a profession. And hopefully become a valued member of our society. But It seems to me that far too many people end up with degrees that are ultimately only marginally useful in their lives or in their workplace. This is why I think that the Coalition’s emphasis on technical and trades focused education is so much better than just pumping more money into the Leftism factories that we call universities. We need more Doctors more scientists but we also need more plumbers and electricians. We don’t need every young person staying at school until they are in their late twenties and then being useless to any profession.
Make no mistake, the Ruddites may be offering an “Education Revolution” but the revolution that comes to mind is the “Cultural revolution” in China that proved to be a disaster that took many years to recover from and it devastated a whole generation of the Chinese.
Maybe that is why Ruddite brother number one is so fluent in mandarin….
Don’t take the risk Comrades.