SOUTH-west education leaders have heard that universities need to have a look at themselves and what they offer if student numbers are going to rise, according to a Deakin University professor.
Professor Trevor Gale, the chairman in education policy and social justice at Deakin’s Burwood campus, said there was a problem with fewer people planning to go to university than the government wanted.
He said students’ aspirations for higher education had become a central policy objection for the federal government.
“That is a problem for the government, it’s not necessarily a problem for people,” he said. “Part of the reason people are not interested is because universities just want to keep on doing what they were doing before and more of it.
“The people who they are trying to attract don’t see that contributing to what they want to achieve in their life and in the future.
“Universities need to have a look at themselves and what they offer and what they value.
“If they were to value ways of living and knowledge of the people they were trying to attract those people would find universities more attractive.”
Professor Gale spoke at Deakin on Timor yesterday and said there was a strong focus on retaining more students in school but not all those students who stayed on to year 12 qualified for university.
“It’s alright to retain people but retain them for what purpose?” he said.
“Just to keep numbers in the class room?
“There has got to be more to education than that.
“There has got to be a good reason.
“It has got to be interesting and contributing to your understanding of the world and what you think is good to do.”
From 2008 to 2011 Professor Gale was the founding director of Australia’s National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. He is a leading sociologist of education, with an international reputation for his research on schooling and higher education.