May 29, 2014

Clarifier: should universities ditch research?

The federal government has suggested that universities be allowed to drop research and instead become teaching-only academies. Is this idea a goer?

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has flagged a new move in his campaign to “set universities free“, telling the Australian Financial Review today that universities could be given the choice to scrap research and become teaching-only institutions.

So how would that work, and is it a good idea to strip research functions from these hallowed halls of learning?

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4 thoughts on “Clarifier: should universities ditch research?

  1. Ian Neering

    Yes, that’s exactly what we need. More specifically we need…Oh, what shall we call them…Let’s say Colleges of Advanced Education (CAE)” and more TAFEs. These are institutions providing vocational training where staff do not do any research. Efficient use of resources, students get diplomas (not degrees) and staff can concentrate on teaching without the need for expensive research training and equipment.

    Hang on a minute, that’s exactly what we had back in the late eighties when Labor’s John Dawkins turned the first sod for the neo-liberals and destroyed our three tiered tertiary education system by either amalgamating our CAEs with existing unis or turning them into new universities.

    Ever since then, our politicians from both left and right have demonstrated their complete ignorance of the role of the university (to foster intellectual rigor and originality) preferring to see them simply as business enterprises. Accordingly, we have seen a decline in academic standards of our universities and a debasement of our degrees.

    When will governments learn that tertiary education is not a cash cow to be milked by filling our universities with full fee paying overseas students but rather a resource and investment in the training of our own to ensure a productive future of this country? When will they understand that that for the best universities, research and teaching inform each other and are both essential for the education of our brightest graduate students.

    By all means, let’s go back to the old system, that way we might once more have all the technically trained people we need from the TAFEs and CAEs and the universities can get on with what they do best.

  2. Graeski

    Thanks for saving me a heap of typing, Ian. I thoroughly agree.

    The mob currently “running” this country are living proof that one may have a university degree but still be a moron.

  3. ian kemp

    I don’t think Pyne is a moron. Being a conspiracy theorist, I suspect that something devious is on his mind. As Crikey’s poll shows, existing Universities clearly understand the link between research and teaching; but maybe they are not the target. To an entrepreneur who wants to set up a degree mill the requirement for research is a formidable barrier to entry – Pyne’s proposal would open the door to lots of business opportunities perhaps for the wannabe Eddy Groves of this world.

  4. klewso

    He’s devious all Right, but not very clever with it, he’s too obvious.

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