My piece on Huffington Post today:
What we want and need from higher education is changing. Cuts, fee hikes and payment threshold reductions put quality and participation at risk.
There are deliberate and direct offerings that complement or replace university learning, depending on your perspective. 58 million people worldwide have signed up to free online courses offered by universities or entities that seek to disrupt them.
More than five years since Stanford started offering some of its courses online for free, providers have become increasingly sophisticated and now offer certification.
Australian universities are also looking at alternatives to the full completion of a degree. It's not just about their lobbying to be able to offer sub-bachelor degrees within the HECS-HELP system. Some are considering offering, and some have started to offer, students the option of taking three or so undergraduate subjects to receive certificates, rather than graduate with a full qualification.
It is unsurprising that there is demand for more flexible ways of obtaining university-level skills and content knowledge.
As our working lives grow longer and more diverse, not to mention more precarious, there is an imperative to balance our ongoing learning with the demands of paid employment and unpaid obligations.
We need to be able to study, and we need to be able to do so around putting the kids to bed and spending often unpredictable amounts of time at work.
Hiking up fees will make it harder for people to afford higher education, with knock-on effects on how they live while they carry the debt, lasting many, many years.
It is not just mature people with families and full-time jobs who need flexible study options. Young people -- those not lucky enough to be able to live with family -- don't get a discount in the private rental market or at the supermarket. They are in paid employment, trying to make it work with uni, too.
Read the full piece on the Huffington Post: http://m.huffingtonpost.com.au/terri-butler/what-we-want-and-need-from-higher-education-is-changing_a_23023016/