How to achieve … an equitable tertiary education system

Carrillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Building Swanston Street, Parkville Campus, The University of Melbourne


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Erin Turner

T: 03 8344 2591

Australians believe we live in a fair and egalitarian country.  We believe in a fair go: in equality of opportunity.  We also believe that accessible education and training is a fundamental right and it facilitates prosperity, social mobility and a richer and more engaged economy.

Are these beliefs about who we are based in fact?  While access to higher education has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, income and wealth inequality is also on the rise. This seeming contradiction challenges our most fundamental believes about intergenerational mobility.

Is the education system a cure or a curse? Are the biggest beneficiaries of the current system the wealthiest and most advantaged members of society? Has the higher education system been colonized by the rich to benefit the rich?

Evidence of increasing inequality, intergenerational unemployment, failure to address rural and regional disparities, falling performance in international standardized school testing, static social mobility despite expansionary higher education policies, a vocational education system in the iron-clad grip of a policy and funding crisis suggests we need to confront some major questions.

Should we see a return to the pre-Dawkins CAE, or a modernized version of it: the Polytechnic? What about new models, such as the degree apprenticeship being trialed in the UK? How open should we be to experiments that might fail?  How do we make tertiary education more affordable and accessible to disadvantaged groups while ensuring they benefit personally and economically from their education? Are universities running a cartel? How do we integrate the tertiary education sector when it has never been more segregated?

The invited speakers are;

  • Andrew Norton, Higher Education Program Director with the Grattan Institute
  • Associate Professor Andrew Harvey, Director of the Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research at La Trobe University
  • Professor Martin Doel – FETL Professor of Leadership in Further Education and Skills, University College London Institute of Education

Chaired by Professor Kerri-Lee Krause Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at La Trobe University.

Co-hosted by the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education and KPMG.

5.30 - 6.20 pm Canapés and drinks served

6.20 pm - 7.45pm Panel presentations and questions from the chair and audience

Upcoming seminars

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