How do we know this is the university education we want?

Year: 2018

Author: Timpson, Mel

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There is considerable literature that critiques recent changes in university education in Australia, indicating we do not have the system we want (for examples see: Goedegebuure and Schoen, 2014, Marginson, 2011, Hil, 2015). The literature focuses on how changes in funding have led to changes in incentives, in turn leading to a decline in the outcomes of education. Changes in particular relate to changes in administration, (Glynos and Howarth, 2007) student demographics and funding (Norton, 2014) and the resulting pressure for universities to behave as businesses (Gillings and Willamson, 2015).But what if we examine the changing incentives alongside changes to the stated objectives of university education by key groups (universities, the Government and the accounting industry (the focus of this research)) over time? This presentation explores how submissions to parliamentary inquiries by educational institutions and the accounting profession in 1988 (the Dawkins reforms) and 2014 (the proposed full deregulation of the university sector) communicate what university education means to them through their stated objectives. The focus is on 1988 and 2014 as they provide a rich body of data from the key Parliamentary Inquiries held in relation to large Federal Government policy changes being introduced. Stated objectives will be derived from the submissions to these inquires as well as in other publicly available documents. Through this exploration, the literature can be seen to be possibly ‘…a tale… full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’ (Macbeth). After all, if the objectives and incentives align, then we do have the university education we want, so why do we need all this critique?As this research is part of a doctoral thesis, the presentation will briefly outline the literature and then present preliminary findings based on my initial data analysis on the Parliamentary Inquiry Submissions. It will also outline how narrative analysis was used to analyse this data through analysis of Hansard, mission statements, public statements on university education and other public documents from the Federal Government, universities and the accounting industry profession.