My brain is breaking. I’m attending meetings, listening to people, doing work and all the time my brain is breaking. Then all of a sudden there is a Budget and well, it breaks again. And all I wanted to do was go to a seminar in a different state.
Higher education is really complicated. It’s full of rules, regulations, competing priorities and ideas, and then of course there are the people. What breaks my brain in the end, is that we are adding complications, not taking them away. The biggest complication we add is confusion. There is no clarity around the purpose or even existence of higher education. Fundamentally, why is it here?
In the Budget last night there was emphasis on the importance of higher education to advance the country of the future. This is something I agree with. Education is the key to the future, after all I plan to spend three years of my life (maybe four) looking into this. And yet, we aren’t sure what that means. Does it mean in the top 20 universities because of research output? Because of graduate numbers? Graduate quality (measured how?)? Fancy technology availability? Happy students? Number of students who find jobs? Number of students who change the world one day in some way? What is it we value?
At the moment it seems to me that we don’t know what we value so we ask academics to be everything to everyone without explaining what we really expect. Today I was lucky though. I work with amazing people and there is a vision. The vision will be developed with input from others so it is a shared vision and then implementation will be a team effort with everyone clear on why they are there and what their role will be, or could be, if they want. For those that don’t want, there are other choices.
I was also unlucky today to learn that academics are also responsible for booking travel. Seriously? On top of being a world expert in their field, teaching, being a technology expert, a compliance expert, a counsellor and an administrator, they now have to be able to manipulate a travel agency booking process??? Not too sure about this…..