CMM Series | Evolutions in higher education systems

13th July 2019

CMM article

This article was first published in Campus Morning Mail on 13 July 2019

Much has been made over the last decade about technology and how it will change higher education. Despite appearances, this is just one of the big ticket items that will disrupt higher education over the coming years. Slow burn shifts in school curriculum and day to day life that change student expectations and starting points, and international providers offering comprehensively different models of education, present a far greater challenge.

In Australia and beyond, students are being offered a school experience that is self-determined, un-modularised, both discipline-based and inter-discipline, and focused on mastery – a new real world apprenticeship in some respects. Google University is a real (albeit limited) thing, and international providers with new ideas of portfolio learning are encroaching. The joining up of prior and contemporaneous experiences and entry to a University in this context challenges, not only pedagogy, but ideas of subjects in courses, linear and time-based learning and funding models, and the ways we spend time with students.

It is not easy to fully grasp the nature, likelihood or immediacy of these challenges to our current modes of thinking. Nor is any revolution in our educational norms to meet them straight forward. The sector is highly constrained by structural assumptions built into regulation and funding, built upon early 20th century norms of higher education. Upending education models in universities challenges entire systems of thought, both internal and external.

Embracing and working with these challenges needs the collective intellectual application of the staff who know it best in order to realise the innovation that is an evolution in higher education. As Audrey Watters says: There is no inevitability to the future of education, but there is a need to continue to examine and test the boundaries of the system.


Professor Nicolette Lee

Executive Director Quality and Standards

La Trobe University

National Senior Teaching Fellowship 2013


ALTF 2019 Legacy Report here