As with higher education institutes the world over, Australian higher education institutes face the age old conundrum: how to keep their budgets down and their standards up. This Australian education essay will talk in more detail about some of the finer points of the challenges facing Australian universities today.
With government funding at an all time low, and set to fall even further over the next three to five years, one of the major challenges facing Australian universities is how to continue to gain any funding from the government. A way around this is to adopt a mutually beneficial relationship rather than continuing to fight for more funds. For example, instead of wasting time and resources on pointless demonstrations, perhaps institutes should concentrate on finding joint initiatives in their research that will benefit both the institution and the country as a whole.
Of course, another way to finance themselves would be to gain independent funding from certain companies. Australian universities have resisted this option in the past as they tend to believe that it can take something away from their independence and their ability to concentrate solely on education. This doesn’t have to be the case, and if the university wants to survive in the current market, this could well be their only option. Strong leadership is essential to ensure the balance is found between gaining funding and still remaining a place of academic usefulness in the long term to students in all sectors.
One of the most worrying issues, while loosely finance related, is the mean age of the teaching staff at Australian universities. It is believed that currently, 54% of the teaching staff are aged over fifty five (16% higher than any other industry). While at the moment this isn’t a huge concern, these people will all be retiring within the next ten years, and the lack of funding can make attracting new, younger teachers a problem. The younger teachers are an essential part of moving forward as they are more likely to accept that change is not only inevitable, but can actually be a positive step. The problem comes from attracting them on a low salary and still maintaining the highest standards of education to continue to attract a good number of students.
In conclusion, to continue to survive in the money orientated market place, universities must find a way to be more innovative.