Australian HE is well positioned to embrace Industry 4.0 disruption thanks to two decades of bipartisan investment in pedagogical R&D via the national Office for Learning & Teaching and its predecessors. But it won’t sustain us.

2019 is both the best and worst of HE times: peak pedagogy due to enhancement funding, but exceptional vulnerability absent agile iteration. And this at a time when our nation’s grand challenge is to conceive of an integrated post-secondary system that supports student pathways and lifelong learning in response to workforce precarity.

What to do? We could hold our collective breath for a post-election epiphany that investing in tertiary education future-proofing makes good economic sense. But the optics aren’t great. Labor’s National Inquiry into Post-secondary Education would have been a good start, aligning as it did with the Business Council of Australia’s vision for a unified tertiary sector, but the May 18 result put an end to that. The Monash Commission recommendations, Wheelahan’s TAFE policy framework and the dual sector universities’ reform agenda all provide actionable conceptualisations. But then what?

Even with an agreed national roadmap, transacting effective and efficient pedagogical change for an integrated tertiary reimagining is a herculean task.

We need to go meta. New course architecture and pedagogy are required to mediate Google age knowledge ubiquity and Industry 4.0’s skills instability. Predictions that future workers will spend more time learning than previous generations demand fresh thinking around credentialing, pathways and the continuum of professional development. Social equity must be front and centre.

As HE is challenged to (re)establish its relevance, now is the time to deploy thought leadership for the public, not self-interested, good. Transformative education for a thriving nation requires our full collective resources. Students in partnership, graduates, institutions, professions and accreditors, government, industry and regulators must come together to co-create and deliver a relevant, future-facing educational ecosystem fit-for-purpose for 21st century Australia and all its peoples.

Professor Sally Kift PFHEA FAAL

President, Australian Learning & Teaching Fellows

2006 Senior Teaching Fellow

[email protected]

ALTF 2019 Legacy Report here


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