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  • Why contradiction is (and always will be) higher education’s great strength

    By Martin Hughes – Higher education (HE) is full of contradiction. Contradiction conjures up images of uncertainty. And that makes me hopeful for the future. Universities thrive on exploration and multiple perspectives. Every institution is rife with healthy argument. The pursuit of learning often conflicts with the pursuit of a better career. In short, one person’s potion is another’s poison. No single purpose for HE can be defined. Yet this is precisely why I am optimistic. Far from a lack […]

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  • A worried parent writes from the UK

    By Stefan Stern – ‘Plumbing college.’ This was my wife’s not entirely satirical answer to the question about where she hoped our children might end up studying. Plumbing college clearly has a lot to recommend it. You learn useful and relevant skills there. You become eminently employable. And you probably don’t find yourself having £30,000 of tuition fees to pay back when you finally complete the course. But all this talk of fees and employability takes us down an avenue […]

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  • The international student and the challenge for universities

    The international student and the challenge for universities

    By Professor Glyn Davis – ‘The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.’ — Rabindranath Tagore The great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore writes powerfully on the excitement and pain of ‘the journey home’. Tagore’s journey home, takes in many distant shores and worlds towards an understanding of his best potential self. For more than three million international students, the challenges of the journey are experienced every day. Living in an unfamiliar culture. Missing the […]

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  • Building a fairer system in Australia

    Building a fairer system in Australia

    By Denise Bradley – Recent changes to higher education in Australia are the most significant in twenty years and are shaped by a vision for higher education as an agent of social transformation. The initiatives to increase participation from under-represented groups start from a basic assumption that: ‘Social inclusion must be a core responsibility for all institutions in receipt of public funding, irrespective of history and circumstances.’ 1 But will they advance this aim? Implementing change Universities are now responsible for […]

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  • Institutional values and the student experience

    Annie Gosling and Owen Gower – Who cares what the institutional structures of a university are, provided that the best student educational opportunities are preserved? Well, it may be that bureaucratic and financial structures are not isolable from the intellectual development of students. Will students have a different (worse?) educational experience if their university is privately run, or if they get a degree in two years rather than three, or if the delivery of their degree is out-sourced to further […]

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  • Learning for the future

    By Phil Race – It has long been recognised that learning happens by doing rather than by just being in the presence of someone more learned. For centuries, higher education educators’ roles centred on transmitting the content of precious books, articles and other resources in ways that learners could handle. Now, information is ubiquitous. Most learning resources are available to just about everyone online (often free) or through a plethora of information-handling channels. This necessitates transformed roles for educators, to […]

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  • The purpose and process of lifelong learning: all work and no play?

    By Ezri Carlebach – The term ‘lifelong learning’ has its modern origins in post World War I reconstruction efforts. In view of the extension of suffrage, and with at least one eye on the principles of the October Revolution in Russia, the Adult Education Committee of the Ministry of Reconstruction declared in 1919 that: ‘adult education… is a permanent national necessity, an inseparable aspect of citizenship, and therefore should be both universal and lifelong’. 1 The use of lifelong learning […]

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  • First class: how assessment can enhance student learning

    By Sally Brown – Too many universities pay insufficient attention to assessment: usually the mechanics are adequately managed, but the purposes and practices are less well thought-through, relying on ‘tried and tested’ approaches, which in reality are neither. ‘Nothing we do to, or for our students is more important than our assessment of their work and the feedback we give them on it. The results of our assessment influence students for the rest of their lives and careers.’1 Assessment in […]

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  • Education for employment and long term economic development in China

    Education for employment and long term economic development in China

    By Isa Wong – The focus of the debate around education system reform in China is increasingly concerned with how best to prepare students for the future, in turn continuing China’s economic development and increasing its international competitiveness. Higher education has a crucial role to play in this—it has to be relevant to today’s society and that of the future, ensuring that students are familiar with and proficient in using the tools and skills which they will be reliant on […]

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