Prosperity in the future depends on our ability to play our part in a more globalised, technologically-enhanced knowledge economy. Universities are widely seen as portals to success, and an ever greater proportion of Australians expect to attend at least one of these widely respected institutions. However, despite strong demand, universities are under pressure. They face constant criticism about their relevance and responsiveness, are subject to regular government review and reform, and their budgets have been squeezed for decades. International rankings, global competition for students and the rise of new providers have heightened the risks of falling behind. Many academics are unhappy with their lot, and students are paying more. While solutions for these problems have been put forward, few have been completely resolved. It is widely held that universities will have to change radically if Australia is to compete on the world stage.
This important new book looks at the future of Australia’s universities in the light of many years of nationally-driven reform efforts, and the persistence of a number of ‘policy myths’ about what can and should happen next. Peter Coaldrake and Lawrence Stedman argue that neither the market nor central government will be able to shape higher education in an optimal way. Facing greater competition and reduced prospects for public funding, universities themselves must provide the impetus and take responsibility for change as they adapt to complex and uncertain futures.