The Context of Higher Education and Its Implications for Quality Teaching: An Australian Perspective

By Therese Demediuk and Anona Armstrong.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 7, 2014 $US5.00

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the changing context, from an Australian perspective, for quality teaching in higher education and to examine the drivers for change and implications for the role of academics and managers. The paper uses a review and synthesis of the literature to consider the competitive context within which universities now operate, and which has consequences for the role of academics and managers. The many changes in Australian higher education are a direct reflection of the international trend for increased accountability in higher education and the widely held view of politicians and the public that higher education is critical to nations and individuals alike. While this viewpoint is well understood by many staff in universities, there is little consensus among the academic community as to how the individual contributes to the “business” and is recognised for that contribution. The altered dynamic of a university and student relationship—becoming one of a business selling a product to a client—has presented both challenges and opportunities. With this shift, universities have been required to undergo extensive reform and change as they provide systematic evidence of effectiveness and efficiency in a much more business-oriented climate. The overt impact on higher education staff engaged in teaching in the corporatised university has fundamentally changed the way they are able to engage in decision making and collegial activity to the point that academics may be described by some as subordinated to the mission of marketing and strategizing developments of the institution and its leaders. The paper concludes that, operationally, the way academics perceive their work is critical; and the failure to understand this is likely to lead to a widening gap between the rhetoric and reality of quality in teaching and learning, which will ultimately impact negatively on the quality of teaching provided.

Keywords: Australian Higher Education Context, Quality Teaching, Corporatisation, Academics, Managers, Drivers for Change

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 6, Issue 3, March 2014, pp.11-19. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 7, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 244.838KB)).

Therese Demediuk

Director - Courses and Pathways Services, Learning and Teaching, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Therese Demediuk is the director of courses and pathways services within the learning and teaching portfolio at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. Therese's main research interest is in the measurement and management of quality teaching and the changed environment within which universities operate in Australia and internationally.

Prof. Anona Armstrong

Professor, Victoria Law School, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Professor Armstrong is a professor of governance at Victoria University and is a registered psychologist. She has served on the University Academic Board and Research Committee and Faculty of Business and Law Committees and is a member of the Victorian Government’s Higher Education Accreditation Committee. Professor Armstrong is an author of 16 books. Professor Armstrong is a past president and life member of the Australasian Evaluation Society and a Member of the American Evaluation Society. She was elected a fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and the Victorian Division of the Institute of Public Administration in Australia, and is a life member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge.


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