New Report Sees Australian Universities at a Crossroads

June 6, 2017

New Report Sees Australian Universities at a Crossroads

June 6, 2017 - What do university leaders and policy-makers actually think about the future of higher education? A new joint report by the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education and UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education provides a unique analysis of the observations of more than 100 Australian university, government and community leaders about past and recent developments and future directions in Australian higher education.

Australian Universities at a Crossroads: Insights from their Leaders and Implications for the Future, by William B. Lacy, Gwilym Croucher, André Brett and Romina Mueller, provides a broad overview of Australia’s higher education system which, the authors claim, is at a key crossroads in its evolution and development.

Over the past 30 years, Australia’s universities have experienced dramatic domestic growth, internationalization, significant funding challenges, the incorporation of new educational and research technology, and numerous opportunities in its capacity for knowledge generation, dissemination and application. As in many other countries, universities are recognized for their impact on economic development and socioeconomic mobility, and for their role in promoting international engagement. However, major internal issues, as well as significant external changes, including the global neoliberal transformation of higher education, currently challenge the sector that need to be addressed.

Although there have been multiple government taskforce reports and legislative initiatives, as well as scholarly books and policy analyses of the Australian university system, there exist few, if any, systematic surveys and analyses of the perceptions and observations of the university leaders in Australia.  Similarly, while many of the issues and changes described in the report are not unique to Australian universities, global university leaders’ insights and experiences have rarely been systematically analyzed.  This study, which focuses on university, government and community leaders, provides a unique review and analysis of the Australian leaders’ perceptions and insights. With this as a foundation, the report concludes with a summary of the key observations and recommendations relevant for Australian universities and higher education globally.

Info on Authors:

Andre Brett is a Vice Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Wollongong.

Gwilym Croucher is Senior Lecturer in the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, as well as Principal Policy Adviser in the University of Melbourne’s Chancellery and will be a UC Berkeley CSHE Visiting Scholar in 2017-18.

William B. Lacy is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of California, Davis and Affiliated Professor at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley.

Romina Mueller is a doctoral candidate in higher education at the Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Germany.


Bill Lacey:

Gwilym Croucher: