The chapters in this volume offer provocative ideas for transforming Australian tertiary education. Each is grounded in current issues or trends but goes beyond present thinking to propose ways in which policy and practice might make major advances.
The Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education (MCSHE) last produced a volume of this kind in 2013, Tertiary Education Policy in Australia, under the editorship of Simon Marginson. In his introduction to that volume the absence of an extended vision for tertiary education was lamented. Further, there was no confidence that the upcoming elections would bring substantive change given that the Coalition, tipped to be returned to government, had been light on policy details for tertiary education. How true that has turned out to be three and a half years later. So once again we throw down the gauntlet.
We are very pleased that so many leading higher education researchers and thinkers, centered around the MCSHE and LH Martin Institute of the University of Melbourne, accepted our invitation to contribute. We are also grateful that the contributors so willingly accepted our request to challenge contemporary thinking, policies and practices. As with the previous volume, there is no party line. Some of the chapters propose solutions in one direction. Others suggest do just the opposite. This is reflective of the nature of our field. There are no silver bullets and tertiary education policy by its very nature is contested terrain. This we do not see as problematic. On the contrary, robust debate grounded in conceptual positions and understandings is what has been so sorely missing. Whilst we are policy realists as well as tertiary education scholars, we still hope that some feathers will be ruffled by the various views and options presented throughout this volume.