Australian schools are in deep trouble and students will continue to slip behind in reading, maths and science unless there is urgent action from all governments, according to a new report.
It’s a grim picture of the country’s education system, where high school students lag behind global standards, there is growing inequity and teaching has become an increasingly unattractive career.
However, some other studies reveal that democratization of knowledge and access, contestability of market and funding, digital technology, global mobility and integration with industry have brought about changes in the education of the country.
The massive increase in the availability of ‘knowledge’ online and the mass expansion of access to university education in developed and developing markets will mean a fundamental change in the role of universities as originators and keepers of knowledge.
Competition for students, in Australia and abroad, is reaching new levels of intensity, at the same time as governments face very tight budgets.
Digital technologies have transformed media, retail, entertainment and many other industries – higher education is next. Campuses will remain, but digital technologies will transform the way education is delivered and accessed, and the way ‘value’ is created by higher education providers, public and private alike.
Global mobility will not only intensify competition, but also create opportunities for much deeper global partnerships and broader access to student and academic talent.
Universities will need to build significantly deeper relationships with industry in the decade ahead – to differentiate teaching and learning programs, support the funding and application of research, and reinforce the role of universities as drivers of innovation and growth.
Australia’s results in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – an international survey that pits the world’s education systems against each other – has steadily declined over the past decade.
The top 10 per cent of Australian 15-year-olds now perform at about the same level in maths as the top 40 to 50 per cent of students in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
It coincides with a declining proportion of year 12 students taking up advanced maths and science subjects.
The report comes at a critical time, with education shaping up as a key election issue. The federal government has promised an extra $1.2 billion for schools and Labor has pledged $4.5 billion.
But the report found that increased spending on education had not led to better outcomes. It said funding needed to target “evidence-based strategies”.
With inputs from ey.com/au and smh.com.au