[LINK] Universities Australia

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Sat Sep 10 11:20:37 AEST 2011

On 09/09/11 09:33, Tom Koltai wrote:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> On Behalf Of stephen at melbpc.org.au
>> Sent: Friday, 9 September 2011 1:04 AM
>> A productive country: The contribution of Australian universities to
>> national productivity ... Universities Australia, 7th September 2011
>> htp://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/resources/633/1140

Keep in mind that "Universities Australia" was formed by the 
universities to promote their interests: 

> The report fails to analyse the cost to the nation of the best of the
> best teaching our neighbouring countries how to create cheaper goods
> with better economical management in place to compete with our own
> rapidly depleting manufacturing efforts. ...

There seems little point in leaving the education market of our region 
to universities in the USA and Europe. Australia might as well make 
friends, and earn a little money, by teaching our neighbors. In any case 
this market is likely to shrink in the next ten years, as universities 
in the region grow their own capabilities and as most education moves 

> I emanate from an era where the Government paid for the education of the
> individual from birth till degree. ...

I recall Gough Whitlam speaking on an outdoor podium at the opening 
Griffith University. When his notes were blown around he quipped about 
this being a problem with the concept of the "open university".

> Foreign students were the exception rather than the norm and a degree
> had to be earned and not paid for in advance. ...

Students still have to study for their awards. If my students do not do 
the assigned work to the required standard, then they fail. To avoid 
unpleasantness I use progressive assessment. Those who are unable, or 
unwilling, to do the required work get the hint early on and can 
withdraw before they fail.

> In other words, real teaching for the right reasons. ...

There is no shame in charging money for education, provided it is a 
quality education. Quality requires standards, testing and independent 

> Somewhere in the last thirty years, education has turned into a business
> that has sold out our intellectual property to the student intake from
> foreign countries leaving us dependent on those countries for almost all
> aspects of our economy. ...

Education is not a commodity you can lock up in a box. Educating our 
students alongside those of other countries improves the education for 
all (I learn a lot form my international students). Also, from a cynical 
point of view, this is a way Australia can pick the best and brightest 
of the international students and invite them to stay and contribute to 
our economy. Others can return to their country with contacts in 
Austrlaia who can foster trade.

> ... to fix the economy, we, as a country need to
> concentrate on encouraging and funding innovative non-service oriented
> (manufacturing) start-ups. ...

Much of making manufacturing profitable is about the service economy. 
There is little point in engineering a better widget if you can't sell 
it to someone, because you don't have the legal, accounting and 
marketing skills.

> The country needs more blue collar workmen, that speak English not
> PhD's. ...

The people who operate machines need formal qualifications, as the 
machines are now mostly computer controlled. These need not be PHDs, 
mostly vocational (TAFE) qualifications. But there need not be a 
distinct boundary between the two: some of the people programming the 
machines will need PHDs.

> Unfortunately, in the main, win win commercial negotiation strategy
> appear to be outside the ability of most academics ...

ANU and University of Canberra have an excellent program with the ACT 
Government, to teach commercialization to the students, called 
"Innovation ACT" (I am one of the mentors for the program): 

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards 

Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Research School of Computer Science,
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/
Visiting Scientist, CSIRO ICT Centre: http://bit.ly/csiro_ict_canberra

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