Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Fluidity in higher education

In June I mused about the decline in economics in Australia (here then here). In this context there was an interesting article in the Australian by Professor Tor Hundloe who has analysed Queensland university course offerings.  I quote:

Of the 130 full degree programs I identified, offered by 13 institutions, only 6 per cent were full economics or combined economics degrees. And only three universities warranted this discipline worthy of study.

Professor Hundloe also referred to the proliferation of course options and combinations.

Meanwhile, Andrew Trounson reports that the Australian Qualifications Framework Council has rejected the efforts of Melbourne University to badge certain of its new master level professional courses as doctorates, apparently along the lines of the Juris Doctor in law. Originally a US concept, a number of Australian universities have introduced JDs in recent years.

The AQC argues that Melbourne University's proposals may create confusion and risks downgrading the concept of a doctorate. Melbourne argues that it's approach is consistent with evolving international practice.

I find all this a bit problematic. However, it's also interesting because these changes are symptoms of broader change processes. These include the continuing trend towards "professionalisation", the impact of globalisation on the professions, the rise of the vocational, the growth of universities as businesses competing for market share, as well as the continuing impact of mass higher education. 

All this is really just a note to myself to say that I should re-visit some of these questions.  

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