David G. Beswick

University of Melbourne

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This paper was prepared for a publication edited by J. P. Keeves for the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia: Australian Education: Review of Recent Research, Sydney, Allen and Unwin, 1987, pp 205-238; and was published with permission in elsewhere as Trends in Australian Higher Education Research: a general review, in Studies in Higher Education, 12, 129 - 155 and Occasional Paper #49, Center for studies in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley, 1986.
The author is indebted to Cleo Macmillan and Heather Parbs for research assistance, and to his colleagues in the Centre for the Study of Higher Education and Gerald Burke of Monash University for critical comments and suggestions.


A general review is presented of Australian research in higher education over the past twenty years or so. Note is taken of the institutional and social circumstances in which the study of the field developed, the principal sources, some major findings and points at issue in current debate. Topics covered include participation, especially issues of purpose and equity, individual and group differences, retention in senior secondary school and related factors in transition, participation of women in higher education, the downturn of participation in the seventies and recent recovery, economics and student finances, and selective admissions. Studies of professional education are reviewed with reference to teacher education, medicine, architecture, and engineering and some important recent studies of curriculum and the learning process are reported. Major studies of the restructuring of higher education are covered briefly. Some observations are made on the relationship between policy related research and the policy process. The present stage of development of the field is seen as one at which scholars are beginning to move from problem oriented interdisciplinary application of basic social science disciplines towards the cumulative development of knowledge.


The study of higher education may be considered as the study of a set of loosely coupled interlocking systems ranging from the internal psychological processes of cognitive and personality development, through various levels of social organization to national economic and political systems. It is multi-disciplinary, commonly calling for the application of two or more disciplines such as psychology, sociology, politics or economics. It may be doubted whether it has yet developed an identifiable and coherent body of knowledge separate from the contributing disciplines and professions. In recent years in Australia, at least as much as anywhere else in the world, there has appeared a community of scholars who identify themselves with the field of higher education and who would claim to possess in their literature and professional practice a body of knowledge that is not identified with one of the other fields. It is not possible to make this a comprehensive treatment of the diverse field, but in what follows certain dominant themes will be illustrated and an attempt will be made to indicate where new effort might fruitfully be directed.

The term 'higher education' is one among many terms used in different ways to refer to some part or the whole of education beyond basic primary and secondary education. In the international literature it most commonly refers to all forms of post-secondary education, except perhaps adult continuing education and training on the job. It has developed a more restricted meaning in Australia. When the three separate Commonwealth commissions for universities, colleges of advanced education and technical and further education were brought together to form the (later Commonwealth) Tertiary Education Commission, the term 'tertiary' acquired a broader meaning than it had before. Tertiary education now covered most of what had been accepted as higher education, internationally. Most Australian authors now follow the Commission's usage in reserving the term 'higher education' when referring to education in universities and colleges of advanced education (CAEs) and 'tertiary' to include technical and further education as well. Although it is common to refer still to three sectors, increasingly, higher education in the restricted sense is being considered as one national system, which now includes 19 universities and 45 CAEs. These institutions provide teaching to bachelor degree or higher levels, require completion of the twelfth year of school for entry and have been fully funded by the Federal Government in the period 1974 to 1985.

The study of higher education is relatively new and has many of the characteristics of a professional field in the early stages of development. Much of the work in Australia in the last 20 years or so also carries marks of its being shaped by unusual circumstances. There is no undergraduate and very little post-graduate teaching in this field in Australian universities and that means that academic staff who wish to do research in the field must be funded specifically for the purpose or have their basic support in some other activity, probably in a different field. There has been some development in faculties of education but, for the most part, the institutional basis of research in higher education has been in special units and in the applied interests of members of related social science disciplines. How these developments have come about and the effects they have had are of course also part of the subject matter under study, although it is a topic that has not received very much scholarly attention. Anderson and Eaton (1982a and 1982b) make some reference to such factors and some limited aspects are treated in Johnson's (1982) evaluative study of higher education teaching and learning units for the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission (CTEC).

It is relatively easy for scholars from well developed disciplines like economics or psychology to make an initial impact when they move to a new field of application. Such studies begin to map the new domain empirically and to provide some of the language and theories from which an appropriate conceptual system will later be developed. In the first instance, however, such scholars have a frame of reference which directs their attention principally to the development of the field from which they have come. A psychologist in this situation is developing further such a field as individual differences or cognitive development or whatever his interest may be and from which his theory and methods have been derived. An economist might by taking new examples of the allocation of resources within institutions or of the operation of welfare systems or whatever, seek to illustrate and test the application of economic models. It is economics or psychology, or some other established discipline, that is being developed by such initial explorations. Though development of a new field has the advantage of drawing on well-recognized terminology and theories from other disciplines, it also must face difficulties in the establishment of a body of substantive knowledge, literature and scholarly networks, recognized research methods, mutually understood assumptions and internally consistent criteria for the evaluation of new work.

It is notable that research groups in higher education have often tended to be the multi-disciplinary combinations of scholars from various fields including some from education, and that research leaders have tended to prefer to recruit junior staff and graduate students from related disciplines rather than from the general field of education. Nevertheless higher education is developing its own knowledge base and canons of scholarship, and it is emerging as a field more closely related to education than to those other disciplines which gave it an initial impetus. However, the limiting effects of scholars looking over their shoulders to other fields of study with frames of reference that become less relevant as the new field develops are probably less constraining than the limitations of funding and institutional controls that are associated with the establishment of special units and funding mechanisms.

Research and development units of higher education

Australian universities have not developed offices of institutional research in the same model as those that are common in North American institutions. Australian research and development units have included institutional research with many similar functions among a broader range of responsibilities. Although they may be less closely tied to the university administration, they share with institutional research offices some tension between administrative and academic direction. Being founded for different purposes has given such research units in Australia a more academic and less administrative character. In the postwar period and up to the period of rapid growth that began in the 1960s, the research concerns of the early units appeared to lie in failure rates and aspects of student services, so that internally funded research projects in the units established at the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales were basically studies of students. Concern to improve the quality of teaching in universities through experimental programs of staff development and advisory services was another source of support for staff who might undertake research in higher education. The Universities Commission gave specific encouragement to the development of units aimed at the improvement of teaching during the period of rapid expansion of Australian universities and the establishment of the colleges of advanced education. These units were often associated with other activities including the type of research on students that had begun earlier and the provision of services in educational technology.

Thus the provision of educational services to institutions of higher education became the indirect basis of support for research and served much the same function that regular undergraduate teaching did in normal university departments, but the research undertaken in such circumstances was less free of immediate demand. It was more shaped by the reporting channels of the units than would be the case in academic departments. It resulted in a strongly applied emphasis and in publications directed to an audience concerned more with action than with scholarship. The publications tended to have low visibility and to be less often subject to critical review than would have been desirable.

Other strongly applied research activities were added to these tasks, as the Commission on Advanced Education, the Commonwealth Department of Education and state authorities began to fund policy-related research. The Education Research and Development Committee which funded research in education generally until 1982 (final annual report, ERDC 1984) also had a strongly applied emphasis, while at the same time the strength of the traditional disciplines made education, and higher education in particular, a poor competitor for grants from the Australian Research Grants Scheme except where research workers were able to put their projects forward in the terms of the basic disciplines from which many of them had come. The net results were research studies in the field of higher education with a relative paucity of conceptual sophistication and a relative lack of integration and cumulative development.

Some of the most significant research in higher education in Australia has been undertaken in government agencies or by academic staff in relation to committees of enquiry. It is difficult to draw the line between the kind of systematic information gathering and administrative review which form the basis for policy work in an agency or department on the one hand, and systematic study in the field in a manner which would be regarded as academic research on the other. For the most part, the work undertaken within state co-ordinating authorities has been of the former kind only and much necessary support work in a Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission (CTEC) and its predecessor bodies has necessarily been of the same kind. Nevertheless, a considerable amount of scholarly work is represented in the reports of the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission (e.g. Report for 1985-87 Triennium (CTEC, 1984)), and of the Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training (1979) (Williams Report). What has been most lacking is any significant opportunity for researcher initiated studies. Thus the general picture remains one of short-term mission orientated studies with staff being inclined to hurry on from one service obligation to another without those opportunities for the growth of understanding in depth that must form a part of a secure long term development.

In this review some of the major themes of concern to administrators, the staff, the students and the general public in relation to higher education will be considered. The topics selected were those suggested for a 'trend report' on research in education prepared for the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. The coverage reflects Australian interests at the time and some representation of the fields in which Australian researchers might be thought to have contributed the international development of scholarship in education.

Perspectives on participation

The identification of those who are to take part in the enterprise of higher education may be an issue of less significance than attempting to understand what higher education does for those who share it and how its effects are brought about, but it tends to dominate many discussions. Participation has been a continuous theme of policy discussion and research, and thus illustrates the ways in which social and political agenda and the immediate concerns of managers have shaped mission oriented studies. To some extent it has been a question of how to define the market for educational services, and it has thus had implications for the viability of institutions and their courses. It has also been a question of the usefulness of higher education as a means of facilitating social change, or of satisfying various pressure groups, or of making the best use of scarce resources, or from a different perspective, its function as a means of personal fulfillment. There are related issues. On the one hand there is the problem of the extent to which higher education is to be regarded as an investment in human capital and conversely how much it is a consumer good; and on the other hand, if it is to be seen in terms of investment there is the question of how much the benefits flow to the individual and how much to society at large.

Purpose and social equity

One's views on the size of the provision, means of access, and distribution across the population of potential students and types of courses, institutions and locations, will depend on presuppositions about the purpose of participation. There has been little explicit and reflective treatment of the purposes of higher education. Powell (1969) and Batt (1970) gave it close attention in their studies, and the traditional views of its role in the preservation, development and transmission of knowledge were noted in some of the early reports (Commonwealth of Australia, 1957 (Murray Report); Commonwealth of Australia, 1965 (Martin Report); and by Partridge, 1963 and 1968). Understanding of purpose may be seen differently from a sociological perspective, especially in terms of function in maintaining and changing the relative advantage of one section of society over another. Thus in opposition to the assertion in Learning and Earning (CTEC, 1982), 'Education plays a part in reducing inequalities of opportunity in Australia', Anderson (1983) claimed that 'the evidence shows that higher education cements rather than reduces inequalities'. Anderson's claim can and should be challenged, but we should note here that it is not a statement about the purpose of higher education in the old philosophical or educational senses, but about the social consequences of who participates or its function in the reproduction of inequalities. The relevance of sociological theory and of ideology to current political debate have shifted attention from purpose to consequence, and thus to a functional rather than intentional view of institutional behaviour.

The basis of Anderson's support for the socially conservative function of higher education is the diverse collection of statistics on student populations in the provocatively titled work Access to Privilege (Anderson and Vervoorn, 1983) and the earlier review of research in higher education (Anderson and Eaton, 1982a and 1982b). His conclusion then was:

Despite all the social idealism attached to education in the last decade, the hope that education would lead us to the threshold of a just society in which inequalities due to personal background and circumstances have been eliminated, higher education remains as much as ever the domain of those in least need of the greater personal opportunity and self-realisation it commonly brings. (Anderson and Vervoorn, 1983: 170)

Disappointment of expectations and alienation from liberal ideals is apparent. This conclusion is reminiscent of the earlier more strongly worded finding from the national surveys of entering students following the abolition of tuition fees in 1974, that:

... it is not likely that many upper s.e.s. students of mediocre ability have been replaced by able lower s.e.s. students. At worst the abolition of fees can be seen as a further benefit to the economically advantaged by transferring funds from the average taxpayer to a student body drawn to a great extent from the more affluent sections of society. (Anderson, Boven, Fensham and Powell, 1980: 201)

Not unnaturally such apparently authoritative findings were seized upon by free market advocates and finance department spokesmen as justification for the reintroduction of fees. We will note other aspects of student finance below. The debate has continued, but there has been no equivalent work to test the correctness of the much discussed empirical findings. They may be doubted on several grounds. First, no adequate explanation is given of where the increased numbers have come from, as the student population has expanded, if it has not been from large groups which previously had poor representation. Secondly, it does not appear to take adequately into account the changing structure of the Australian workforce and thus of the relative sizes of socio-economic status groups in the population whose representation is being compared from one time to another. Thirdly, the best data on the social background of students are from the oldest and most selective universities while most of the growth has occurred in new universities and in the colleges of advanced education.

The proportion of entering students whose fathers are university graduates has been estimated to be about 20 per cent in recent years (Beed, 1978; Anderson et al. 1980; C. Williams, 1982; Beswick, 1983a; Beswick, Hayden and Schofield, 1983) and somewhat lower for students entering CAEs and for matriculation students generally (Anderson et al. 1975; Beswick et al. 1983). Similarly, the proportions whose fathers are in occupations classified as professional, technical and related workers, or managerial and administrative, amount to a sizable minority, larger than the proportion of those occupations in the population at large for the relevant age groups by a factor of about two, but still less than half the total (Hayden, 1982). In other words the majority of students do not come from backgrounds that are in this sense privileged. On the face of it there remains much scope for intergenerational mobility.

There is a widely held view that the less privileged sections of society may not be catching up fast enough and may be shut out when higher education is more or less expected of anyone with above average social status. This possibly accounts for a good deal of anxiety about current trends. Anwyl (1978) noted that confidence of significant improvement faltered in the 1970s when it was realized that even quite significant rates of growth from a very small base in the 1950s were still not producing large proportions of students from working class backgrounds. He cited studies by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) showing 'that sons of unskilled workers or semi-skilled workers were more than twice as likely to have gone from school to university in 1971-72 than in 1959-60, while daughters of such workers were more than three times as likely to have entered university after leaving school'. But the increase was from 1.5 per cent to 3.2 per cent for males and 0.7 to 2.4 for females. These figures may be compared with the rate for children of professional workers at about 25 to 29 per cent for males and 18 to 21 per cent at that time for females. More recent work at the ACER and elsewhere (see CTEC, 1982) does not give directly comparable data but suggests that although the trend continued, a significant gap remains.

That there has been relatively little change overall in the extent of 'socio-economic discrimination' over the past decade is well illustrated for South Australia in the preliminary findings of current work by Linke et al. (1985). They found that:

The universities, traditionally regarded as strongly elitist, have become less so, and colleges, once regarded because of their vocational emphasis as a means for egalitarianism influence have instead become more elitist ... (Linke et al. 1985: 131-132)

These findings are difficult to interpret in relation to participation rates because participation by school leavers was in decline for most of the period 1974 to 1984, for male students at least, and only reached its previously highest level again at the end of that period. Any overall effects of expansion of total numbers can only have been due to the increasing proportion of mature age entrants. A better test of the effects of expansion on opportunity for the disadvantaged will come as a result of the current period of increase in numbers emerging from senior secondary education since 1982.

It seems to be agreed by the majority of authors (see Hayden, 1982) that most of the effects of socio-economic status (SES) on participation occur in the post-compulsory years of secondary school. Once school achievement (in the form of HSC or matriculation examination results) is taken into account SES has very little if any predictive value for those who will make the transition to higher education (Anderson et al. 1975; Bardsley et al. 1979; Blandy and Richardson, 1982; Beswick et al. 1983; Richardson, 1985; Williams et al. in press). These negative findings, however, hide significant differences in important aspects of transition. The same studies show significant effects of SES in the distribution across institutions and fields of study, so that background will be related to ultimate professional status even after accounting for differences in school achievement. Furthermore, school achievement is affected by SES, and some of the differences appear to be due to fairly direct effects of advantageous social background.

One of the most frequently cited papers in the last three years has been the study by Dunn (1982) which reported that students from non-government schools did not perform as well at university as did students from government or state schools with the same entry scores. This finding has recently been replicated by West (1985). The explanation remains uncertain. It has important implications for selection procedures (Beswick et al. 1984) and indicates that the apparent irrelevance of SES as a predictor of transition requires closer attention. Nevertheless, it is easy to overstate the possible social explanations. It must be noted that much of the variance remains unexplained. In a regression analysis of data from a large longitudinal study to determine the predictive value of the HSC for success in higher education more than half the predicted variance in future performance remained after allowance had been made for social background, attitudinal and personality variables (Bardsley et al. 1979).

One of the great difficulties is that SES indices are such gross measures. They need to be unpacked to separate the various cultural and financial components and their differential effects. Level of family income has been found in some studies not to have any relationship to transition from Year 12, but cultural components may be and parental encouragement was found to be one of the most significant determinants (Anderson et al. 1975; Beswick et al. 1983). It is the perceived value of higher education that has strong direct effects (Elsworth et al. 1982). An adequate explanation of such findings would have to include the family and general social conditions which shape values and expectations. Those values and other attributes of individuals as social beings can, of course, include economic considerations, but the goals they define will derive from both extrinsic and intrinsic motives (Hayden, 1982; Beswick, 1983a; Beswick et al. 1983).

We thus return to our concern with the purposes of higher education, but this time seen from the viewpoints of the individual. It is not entirely a matter of ideological preference whether one attends to social class or to individual differences in social psychological variables, for as Hayden (1982) noted 'the social psychological variables are amenable to policy interventions'. It is not accidental that the Commonwealth Government undertook a national advertising campaign to encourage young people to remain at school at the beginning of the year following the Learning and Earning report; and we should note that the dramatic upturn in participation of young people began from that time, although it had been predicted on other social psychological and demographic grounds (Beswick, 1983a).

Individual and group differences

Some perspective on the balance of emphasis upon individual and group differences may be seen in results of attempts to identify disadvantaged schools. Although more relevant to other levels of education it is worth noting the work of Ross (1983) on the development of an index for possible use in the distribution of funds to schools under the Schools Commission's Disadvantaged Schools Program. Ross was able to weight demographic and housing variables from census data to produce a composite index of differences between school catchment areas which predicted quite well mean differences between schools in performance on standardized achievement tests in the compulsory years of schooling. Yet in Australia only 13 per cent of the total variance between students in achievement was due to differences between schools, and that included differences in the quality of teaching and other resources as well as any differences in average levels of ability not related to the socio-economic or demographic measures. Of course, there are socio-economic effects within schools as well, but Australia has one of the lowest proportions of between school variance to total variance in student achievement anywhere in the world (Peaker, 1975). Perhaps that is one reason why differences stand out. What has caused so much concern is that relatively small average differences can be amplified into differential rates of participation in the professions which make it several times more likely that a person from some social groups will take part than that a person from some other groups in the population will do so.

Retention to Year 12 and the point of transition

As Anderson and the CTEC reports have made clear, the biggest factor in differential participation rates in higher education is the retention rate to the qualifying level, Year 12, of school. Studies of characteristics of entering students largely reflect those of students remaining in school to qualify for matriculation, but there are other processes which affect the intake group. The other side of the retention process is the transition from school to work and it is relevant in helping to define the relevant senior secondary school population. Research in that area has been reviewed by Sturman (1979). Processes of transition from secondary to tertiary education and the entry of students not coming directly from school, and especially of mature age students, have been subjected to investigation over the past decade.

A significant study reported by Elsworth et al (1982) and Elsworth and Day (1983) focused on that point in transition where qualified and selected applicants accept or decline offers of places. They found that females, non-metropolitan and low SES successful applicants were about 10 percentage points less likely than average to accept offers. They also found that the children of non-English speaking immigrants were more likely than others to accept offers, and this accords with other evidence of greater than average participation among the immigrant sections of the population as a whole (Burke and Davis, 1985). Interestingly the group which showed the greatest effect of socio-economic status in the probability of accepting an offer was the group of applicants whose families had migrated from other English speaking countries, mainly the United Kingdom, while SES had no influence on the acceptance of offers by applicants with non-English speaking backgrounds. One is tempted to conclude that attempts to apply theories of social class to participation will become increasingly irrelevant as the old British hierarchies are left further behind in the development of Australian society and culture.

To complete the picture of participation, research on rates of progress and retention or withdrawal at the tertiary level need to be included. Some studies like the evaluation of the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme (Beswick et al. 1983) have covered both transition and tertiary retention. Others, like the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee (1980) report on student progress and attrition, Eaton's (1980) review of literature for that Committee and some work for the Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training (1979) report, and work by Hore et al. (1980) and Hore and West (1985) are concerned specifically with retention. Some studies of transition have also been investigations of later progress. Previous research and theoretical models for attrition have been reviewed by Malley (1981) and Hatchard (1982). Malley has noted a common theme in policy related discussion, namely, that models of the social processes of dropping out have concentrated too much on the characteristics of students and too little on the interaction between students and institutions. Empirically, the reasons for dropping out are complex, and may include many external factors, especially finance, but most commonly some kind of mismatch between expectation and reality is given by students as the most important reason for dropping out (see, Beed, 1978; Beswick, 1983b; and TEAS evaluation, Beswick et al. 1983).

Participation of women in higher education

The participation of women in tertiary education is the subject of a major review by Powles (1986). Taking a life span perspective Powles traces influences underlying women's tertiary participation patterns from the early school years to the crucial senior secondary years and subsequently through tertiary education into the workforce. She has described the gains that have been made by women in terms of increased retention of girls to the final years of secondary schooling, their transition to higher education and participation in various fields of study. She documents, however, the many problems and barriers that women continue to face and which appear to be embedded in a fabric of long-held attitudes and values in a society which is slow to change.

Powles (1986) shows the remarkable turnabout in the different retention rates of male and female students to Year 12. There was a steady climb in retention rates in the post war period and right through the 1960s until the male rate started to turn down in the early 1970s. The women were affected only briefly by the downturn in the late 1970s and they were well ahead of the male rate when both surged ahead again after 1982. The many problems in the interpretation of statistics on participation rates have been discussed by Brewster, Riggs and Ey (1984).

As Powles (1986) has indicated, apart from institutional practicalities like library hours and access to faculty offices, the greatest needs of women returning to study are those of child-care and family support mechanisms, but they can also include problems of dependence contrasted with independence from family and availability of alternative sources of financial assistance. The TEAS evaluation (Beswick et al. 1983) found women to be especially susceptible to dropping out for financial reasons, and it seems likely that mature age women would be especially affected by tuition fees or other increased private costs (Currie et al. 1984; Currie et al., 1985).

The downturn in participation in the seventies

Apart from the gender differences, the remarkable downturn in participation in the 1970s has been the subject of a number of studies which have examined the interaction between workforce participation and student enrolments (Blakers, 1978; Baird, Gregory and Gruen, 1981; Gregory and Stricker, 1981; Stricker and Sheehan, 1981; CTEC, 1982; Sweet, 1982). The extent to which change in participation rates could be attributed to increased unemployment and whether the effect of increased unemployment was positive or negative was much in dispute. The bird-in-the-hand philosophy appeared to account for some of the increased full-time participation of young people in the workforce and the consequent decrease in participation in senior secondary and tertiary education. Workforce participation would seem to have been greater than the tendency to stay in school at least until 1982 when there was a further sharp increase in teenage unemployment.

Job prospects for graduates did decline somewhat in this period. The most marked fall was in employment in teaching, which particularly affected females, but the decline in apparent earnings of male graduates relative to non-graduates was also notable. The run down of student financial assistance was a major factor in the downturn (Hayden 1981, 1982; Gruen, McMaster and Webb, 1981; Gruen 1982; Beswick 1983b, 1985a; Beswick et al. 1983). Due largely to the phasing out of special support for trainee teachers (studentships) by state governments, and to some decrease in the value and availability of TEAS, the proportion of students mainly dependent on private sources of financial support increased from one-third to two-thirds. It is remarkable that the participation of young people in higher education decreased by only one-fifth in this period. This is the other side of the debate about the abolition of fees. Had tuition fees not been abolished it is certain that the effects would have been much more severe.

During the period of declining participation by young people in higher education total enrolments nevertheless continued to increase. This was due to much greater numbers of mature age students enrolling (CTEC, 1982). This was part of the pattern of increasing participation by women, but it also represented some changes in admissions policies and in attitudes to part-time students. Questions arose about the performance of mature age students both generally and in relation to entrance criteria. Studies on these topics were reviewed by Hore and West (1980). They documented the rapid expansion in the older age group, especially for women, their relatively good performance, the positive attitude of their teachers to their contribution as members of the student body and the types of problems which they faced. They concluded that mature age students should be recognized principally as part-time students, and suggested that it is 'fruitful to consider part-time/full-time status as a function of age and its attendant responsibilities'. A later report to the ERDC by Isaacs (1982) was based mainly on a longitudinal survey at the University of Queensland, but included some reference to schemes in other institutions. It is fairly typical of the work confirming that mature age students say they study for much the same reasons as younger students and that they are especially motivated to study in a field which really interests them. In addition, they tend to have high attrition rates initially but then to make good progress. Moreover, they were reported to have a special concern to internalize the academic method and had some difficulty in accepting authority in the teaching situation while they tended to feel that young students resented their greater articulateness. It was suggested that innovations in teaching designed to assist mature age students tended to be beneficial for all.

Economics and student finances

A range of studies of the economics and financing of higher education have been undertaken. These include studies of student demand for places, employers' demands for graduates, the costs of education, the financial benefits of education and the funding of education including student finances.

Students' demand for places has been an important consideration in the work of the Tertiary Education Commission and in the Martin and Williams Reports. An economic model of demand for places has been explored by Nicholls (1984), and Carpenter (1985) has developed a multivariate socio-economic model. These should not be confused with the multivariate analyses of transition by Elsworth et al. (1982) and Beswick et al. (1983) which are concerned with factors affecting participation, not quantitative estimation of enrolment. Government bodies have undertaken some research on the demand for particular types of graduates, particularly teachers and medical practitioners. The problems of manpower forecasting in general, as it was called, are well documented by Niland (1979) in the Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training (1979) report and the particular issues for teachers were considered by Burke (1979).

The costs of post-secondary education were considered in detail by Selby Smith (1975) but continuing work in this field outside government bodies is not substantial. Attempts to relate the financial rewards to higher education as measured by the increased lifetime earnings received by graduates have been made by Selby Smith and by Miller (1982). Such a means of measuring benefits of education may be useful from the viewpoint of the individual but is very questionable from the view of society. A major concern is that while higher earnings may be associated with extra education the reason for this may be not the content of education but education's importance in moving the individual up the queue for better paying jobs.

Analysis of the overall funding of education including higher education was undertaken with greater public effect by Karmel (1962, 1966). Williams (1979) presented a range of detailed estimates and Burke (1983) reviewed the 1970s and prospects for the 1980s. The sources of funding of higher education, in particular, the charging of fees, were considered by Brennan (1971) in a review for the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee (AVCC) in the period immediately before abolition. He was concerned with equity and the efficient use of resources which includes response to consumer preferences. Proposals to re-introduce fees are often coupled with suggestions for the provision of further assistance to students by way of loans. The economics of student loans (Thomson, 1974) also received attention in the earlier period.

The extreme complexity of the interaction of many different youth support schemes in their effects on TAFE students has been described by Powles (1984). The opposite extreme, in the vision of a universal youth allowance, is illustrated by Wilenski (1983) and a comprehensive treatment of the issues and options has been given in papers from the Division of Youth Affairs (formerly in the Commonwealth Department of Education (as DEYA) and now Prime Minister's and Cabinet) on youth policies, programs and issues (DEYA, 1983) and income support for young people (DEYA, 1984). Most of the background and relevant research is reviewed in these papers. There appears to be a need for some rationalization of support to favour participation in education rather than unemployment, but there is also a need to retain some diversity in sources of support including a significant component of private costs except for those most in need. The justice and efficiency of various means tests still raises many questions, as does the extent to which students in higher education should be regarded as independent (CTEC, 1985). In all of this work there are implicit theories of participation. Different outcomes of research are often traceable to different assumptions about the basis on which prospective students make decisions for or against participation. The beginnings of a systematic treatment of the differences in theory between economic and social psychological perspectives may be seen in Hayden's (1982) review, and it is to be hoped the day is not too far distant when some integration of contributions from the different disciplines will be possible and productive.

Selection issues

A research base for policy on selective admissions was one of the fruits expected of the establishment of higher education research and development units. It was hoped some 20 to 30 years ago to reduce the unacceptably high failures rates by more efficient screening of prospective students. As the system expanded it became more differentiated and competition developed for places in the most sought after courses and institutions. Soon competitive entry became the norm. Minimum entry scores (cut-off scores) before long achieved the status of an index of market value, and were indeed contemplated as measures of demand relevant to the funding of courses (Gibb, 1979). Criteria for ranking applicants replaced minimum standards of achievement for university entrance as the point of concern. While providing a rational basis for the management of competitive entry by selection, with composite indices of final school performance, research also drew attention to the limits of predictability as a rationale for selective admissions. Subsequently, work by Anderson and others shifted attention from admissions to student services and teaching methods as the best way of overcoming failure problems (see Anderson and Eaton (1982 a and b), for a general review).

Alternative criteria and special admission procedures have been developed for reasons of social equity, especially as noted above in the work reviewed by Hore and West (1980) on mature age students. The recognition of other criteria cannot be justified on grounds of inadequacy in the predictive validity of HSC or a school performance aggregate, for it remains moderately good. Nor is there evidence of improved predictive validity with other criteria, but social and educational reasons can be given for some modification of a predictive model of selection (Beswick, 1985b). Undesirable effects of external examinations prompted studies of correlation with tertiary performance and of the relative predictive validity of internal school assessments moderated by some reference measure such as the Australian Scholastic Aptitude Test (McGaw, 1977; McGaw and Hannan, 1985; Quality of Education Review Committee Report, 1985). Most of the detailed work on alternative procedures and their consequences has been internal to major institutions although occasionally collections of papers have been published (e.g. Powell, 1978a; Hester, 1982; and Murray and Henry, 1983). Beswick et al. (1984) made a close study of how individual selection decisions were actually made in a large university. This work illustrates the great complexity of the task once criteria other than a fixed formula for an aggregate score are recognized. Alternative avenues of preparation and admission and effects of transfers between institutions, together with a much increased intensity of competition, have given rise to many problems of comparability between applicants and related issues of equity, efficiency, openness and excellence.

One line of development that may offer promise of overcoming some of the conflicting interests of secondary schools and tertiary institutions lies in the co-operative development of item-banks and related reference tests (Masters, 1985; Beswick and Masters, 1985). Recent developments in the application of latent trait theory in educational and psychological measurement are capable of providing a basis for combining the requirements of diagnostic, norm referenced and criterion referenced testing, but ideological issues and industrial disputes stand in the way of solutions. With rising retention rates in senior secondary school and a much slower expansion of undergraduate numbers, the social and political consequences of increased competition are likely to keep admission problems very much to the fore, but there is no guarantee that research findings will play a significant role in their solution. This area as much as any other illustrates the tension and the great complexity and subtlety of the interface between policy related research and the policy process.

Professional education

Education for the various professional occupations in Australia was reviewed to a limited extent in the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training (1979) in relation to the responsibilities of professional schools in universities and colleges. The influence of professional associations and registration boards or other state authorities was given particular attention with respect to engineering, accountancy, law, veterinary science, dentistry and medicine. Except for post-graduate medical fields of specialization, the tendency was noted for increasing reliance upon higher educational qualifications as sufficient conditions without additional examination for entry to professions although acceptance may depend upon additional practical training. Perhaps the greatest change in this respect has taken place in teacher education which until the past decade or so was largely under the direct control of the employing authorities (Hyams, 1980).

CTEC and its predecessors or related bodies have undertaken several reviews of training for particular professions, and the Commonwealth and State Governments have appointed committees of inquiry: e.g. the National Inquiry into Teacher Education (1980) (Auchmuty Committee) and the Inquiry into Management Education (1982) (Ralph Committee). The reports of these committees have often contained reviews of research including studies commissioned for the inquiry (e.g. Beswick et al, 1980; Harman and Schofield, 1982). The coverage of topics is far too great to be adequately represented by a summary in this brief general review. We can note only some examples and reviews of other work.

Hyams' (1980) study of the historical development of teacher education in Australia describes the dominance of training in government colleges for primary teachers until the changes introduced with institutional autonomy and Commonwealth funding in 1970s (see also Wilson, 1980). The training of secondary teachers was also constrained, in different ways and to a lesser degree. As was found in the Regional Colleges study (Anderson et al. 1975) the single purpose teachers' colleges, especially where external recruitment of staff was limited and the colleges were located in isolated areas, were institutions of low academic standards and low morale of staff and students at the time of their incorporation into the advanced education sector as autonomous institutions in 1974. Substantial improvements have been noted since, although documentation is limited and sometimes inseparable from the effects of college amalgamations (Harman et al. 1985). It cannot be doubted that the separation of teacher education, enrolling as it does such a high proportion of all students, from the mainstream of higher education has had significantly negative effects both on the teaching profession and on the institutions. Not least, the support base for research relevant to the profession has been very much less than for those professions which have all their undergraduate training in universities.

Research into teacher education has expanded greatly since 1970, and has been reviewed in the previous Chapter. The Auchmuty Report (Chapter 9) also contains a summary and the Education Research and Development Committee (ERDC) published a related report (edited by Hewitson, 1979) which gave particular attention to practical teaching skills. It is notable in retrospect that the Auchmuty committee recommended increased funding for the ERDC to mount a co-ordinated program of research and development in teacher education, but the ERDC was abolished as a result of the Review of Commonwealth Functions in 1981 (see Harman, 1981). Experience in the first year or two of professional employment may be viewed as an extension of professional education, and it has been seen as a source of useful information about the effectiveness of higher education courses especially in regard to the practical training components. A study by Tisher et al (1978) reported on a national survey of the initial years of teaching. Its first volume includes a bibliography of teacher-induction activities in Australia and the United Kingdom. The emphasis on practical detail in professional education for teachers is less in that report, however, than in the compendious work on innovations in teacher education edited by Turney (1977). It is a measure of change in orientation during the past decade that one would not expect a book on 'innovations' to appear today, but teacher educators would be looking for good evaluations to discover the effects of those which had been introduced when hopes were higher.

To point now to evaluation rather than innovation is not to suggest that nothing has been learned from the innovations made during the period of expansion. Malcolm and Owen (1981) have reviewed the effect of the Schools Commission Innovations Program on teacher development. Orton and Macmillan's (1976) evaluation of a school based program of teacher education has been followed by Dow's (1979) substantial work on alternatives in teacher education. One might add Macklin's (1980) philosophical treatment of the cultivation of awareness through emphasis on policy in preservice teacher education. A more typical concern now would be to attempt to discover what can be learned to improve practice in a particular field (e.g. Owen, Dosey and Hurworth, 1983, in regard to science and mathematics).

Medical education is one field in which Australian researchers and practitioners have made a significant international contribution. With the exception of recent work in teacher education, there has not been the same commitment to understanding and improving the processes of professional education in other professional schools as there has in medicine. Apart from such initiatives taken by central administrations to serve all faculties in an institution, some medical schools have independently invested their own resources in education units or personnel. Two major developments have been the establishment of the School of Medical Education at the University of New South Wales, and the Discipline of Medical Education at the University of Newcastle.

If we give particular emphasis here to research and development in medical education at the University of Newcastle, it is not to say that the work at the University of New South Wales is less significant or that other medical schools have lacked either innovative activity or significant educational research. For example, Eizenberg (1985) has described the effects of quite radical changes in the teaching of anatomy in a traditional medical school, which has been guided explicitly by recent developments in educational theory (see Ramsden, 1985, for a review). In addition, the general implications of similar theoretical models for medical curricula have been spelled out by an international team, Newble and Entwistle (1985). But the Newcastle Medical School is different in two important respects. It was designed to be different in curriculum and teaching methods (Clarke, 1977, 1979 and 1984; Engel and Clarke, 1979), and its development was planned, monitored and reported by medical and educational personnel working in close collaboration. In general, a problem solving orientation was adopted, and the selection of students (Vinson et al. 1979), methods of assessment (Engel et al. 1980; Feletti et al. 1983; Feletti, 1984) and course evaluation (Engel et al. 1982) differed from the common practice in Australia. The students were more favourable in their attitudes than were other first year medical students (C. Williams, 1982), although they tended to lose some enthusiasm in later years (Clarke et al. 1984), and they developed a deeper or more meaningful approach to learning than was found in a 'traditional' course (Newble and Clarke, 1985).

Of course, 'traditional' is a relative term. Long before the Newcastle school was planned Saint (1964) observed that 'Astonishing changes have taken place in medical education during the last decade in Australia'. He was referring then to a much increased emphasis on specialization and to a belated effect of the scientific revolution on the clinical disciplines. In addition, he called for what we are now beginning to see in a reaffirmation of the importance of general practice and its attendant more general interest in human affairs as a factor in professional education. In their review of Australia medical schools Sheldrake et al. (1978) concluded that

the scientist/specialist concept that has dominated medical training at least until the beginning of this decade, is slowly but surely shifting. There is now a much greater concern to see medicine concentrate its attention on primary care. (Sheldrake et al. 1978: 106)

A somewhat similar view amongst students, teachers and practitioners in the related profession of dentistry has been reported by Cannon and Makinson 1983) who found that all three groups favoured curriculum reform. Now that nurse education is being transferred from teaching hospitals to colleges of advanced education, it might be relevant to note also the survey of trends in curriculum development by McCue and White (1983) while the politics of curriculum change was studied by Creighton (1981).

Admission to medical schools is always a sensitive point. Sheldrake et al. (1978) described admission systems operating in the 1970s, and noted a concern to widen the social base of the profession. Some alternative approaches have been explored to a limited extent in recent years. Delayed entry after a year or more of basic study has been suggested by the CTEC, but the medical schools have been reluctant to take it up as the normal rather than an exceptional route. It tends to conflict with curriculum reforms that have only recently been introduced, and which tend to emphasise integration and early patient contact (Sheldrake et al. 1978). On the one hand, it is a common problem in professional education where there is a general tendency to improve the learning environment and motivation by introducing students to some of the distinguishing characteristics and practical experience of the profession at an early stage. While on the other hand, the later a commitment is required to be made, the better for students who wish to keep their options open and who may need to overcome disadvantage or deficiencies in their secondary education.

One professional faculty which has moved to some extent in the latter direction is the Faculty of Architecture and Planning at the University of Melbourne which has restructured its degree programs to offer a common initial three year degree (Bachelor of Planning and Design) with a range of major studies from which students may proceed to various post-graduate diplomas and masters degrees providing professional qualifications. There appears to have been little published research or enquiry into architectural education in Australia and it would be of value for changes such as these to be studied and evaluated. An insight into the historical background of architectural education in Australia may be gained from the study carried out in Sydney by Proudfoot (1984). He points to the dual origins and continuing tensions between the tradition of technical education and the artist-architect stream represented in the University. There is also Johnson and Clarke's (1979) relatively recent general survey of schools of architecture throughout Australia and the Commonwealth.

Engineering education has also been a field in which there has been much discussion of the extent to which specialization should occur in the early years of a degree course. The professional association, the Institution of Engineers, has played an influential role; and it is they who published some of the major papers on engineering education (e.g. Lloyd, 1968 and 1980) including the first detailed survey by Lloyd and Wilkin (1962). There is an active group within the Institution which meets to discuss engineering education, and collections of papers have been published (e.g. Proceedings of the Australasian Engineering Education Conference, 1980). Moorhouse, at the University of Melbourne, was one of the prime movers, not only in the consideration of educational questions in the training of professional engineers but in the establishment of the study of higher education generally in Australian universities. He and several colleagues published a series of articles in The Australian University in the early 1960s which described the historical and institutional background and opened up the serious study of the field (Moorhouse, 1964 a and b; Lavery, 1964; Willis, 1964; Valentine, 1968). Their concerns included: (1) the place of engineering as a field of intellectual inquiry within a university; (2) the greatly varied expectations of employers with the difference in need between large employers who expected to provide additional practical training for graduates and small employers who wanted an immediately useful staff member; (3) the tension between specialist requirements and the need for co-operation in basic training and its associated assumptions of future flexibility; (4) a similar tension between breadth and depth in the treatment of topics; (5) the importance of habits of disciplined thought and hard work; (6) how and when to prepare the future management roles into which most engineers move; (7) the crowded curriculum and the length of the course; (8) the relevance of the type of training to the social standing of the profession; (9) industrial and commercial experience for academic staff; and (10) the time to be devoted to basic science, and to introductory and advanced specialist studies. Many of these concerns were still apparent twenty years later. Factors which influenced engineering education in the interim were studied by Graycar (1973) and Zorbas (1977).

Turk (1982) surveyed opinions about current engineering courses and drew attention to the radical change that had occurred over 20 years in the qualifications of engineering academic staff. He documented the change from most teaching staff having only bachelors degrees to the present situation in which doctorates and research publications are the norm in the major institutions. When this is coupled with a relative lack of movement in senior staff between private employment and universities, questions are raised about relevance of training, and means of passing on what is being learned in industry. Many institutions would claim that their recruitment policies emphasise the necessity of practical experience and the co-operative contribution of specialized staff that can be made through research. Nevertheless, it remains a significant point of tension. Turk claimed that his research confirmed Lloyd's (1980) view of the need for a revised curriculum, especially in regard to the need for greater emphasis on communication skills. Some engineering courses now incorporate many of these ideas and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has attempted to meet the general educational needs of engineers and other professionals through the development of a 'context curriculum' (Kenny, 1984). Sandwich courses, especially the concept of co-operative education represent another type of adjustment to the tension between academic and practical requirements, which has been found to have some advantages at least in the initial period of employment (Gillin, 1984).

Much of the writing on these questions might be described as informed comment rather than the reporting of research as in the cases of Turk and Gillin. As with legal education such discussion has helped to clarify concepts and define problems, but it has not yet reached the level of systematic study of professional education that is now found in medical education.

Curriculum and the learning process

In studies of how learning takes place in higher education Australian researchers have contributed significantly in the international arena. Several authors have worked closely with colleagues in Britain and Sweden in this field which is emerging as a promising field of scholarship and one closely related to professional practice both in its methods of research and in the relevance of findings for the improvement of teaching and learning. A recent review by Ramsden (1985) sets out some of the achievements and prospects, especially for progress in understanding how meaningful rather than rote learning can be promoted. It is closely related to aspects of curriculum and assessment which define the context as well as the content of learning.

The study of teaching methods except with respect to highly specific subject matter is largely set aside in this approach. The fact that we are not covering in this review the extensive work Australian teaching units have done on the improvement of teaching techniques, does not represent a complete acceptance of that point of view; it would be a topic too great to be subsumed under this heading. To point more to the study of basic processes emphasises the hope that consideration of the practical consequences for teaching will be more securely based on tested theory in the future.

Biggs (1976, 1978, 1979, 1982; Biggs and Collis, 1982; Biggs and Kirby, 1983) has approached the topic through the study of individual differences. His Study Process Questionnaire has been used extensively. His measures of motivational and instrumental traits share much in common with those of Entwistle and his colleagues (Entwistle and Ramsden, 1983; Marton et al. 1985). Thomas and Bain (1984) have refined similar measures, and have produced further evidence of the importance of contextual variables in defining expectations which affect approaches to learning. Watkins (1982, 1983, 1984), similarly, has extended the description of dimensions of individual differences in study processes and the perceptions which make for a deep approach to learning.

It is not yet clear how compatible the methods relying upon traditional psychometric and survey techniques will be with the more phenomenological approach favoured by Marton. As Ramsden (1985) put it

... the studies described here are not concerned with applying or deriving general laws about human learning; neither are they much interested in discovering common characteristics of students that are assumed to determine their future progress ... this research focuses on the uniqueness of students' experiences ....'. (Ramsden, 1985: 52)

This idiographic emphasis might be seen to be an extreme form of an interactive view, but it represents also a preferred change of stance on the part of the researcher who is encouraged to stand with the student and see learning from his or her point of view rather than as a more distant object of interest. Either way, the curriculum comes into focus as a structured presentation of subject matter which defines learning tasks that will be a product of the students' perceptions as well as the objective requirements. One is led then to consider the nature of disciplines, the culture of departments and faculties, and the way learning outcomes are structured by assessment procedures. Thus it is suggested that the more effective, and perhaps the only effective means of intervention to improve learning will not come from isolated attention to teaching techniques or learning skills, but through more fundamental changes to curricula and the quality of the relationship the student has with the department or discipline or professional course unit as a social entity.

In retrospect one can see that some of the earlier exploratory studies which did not draw on the research findings noted above were beginning to deal with the same questions. For example, Brown's (1978) study of 'Holism and the University Curriculum' (see also Barnett and Brown, 1981) and the evaluation of an experimental first year in arts by Beswick et al. (1981) pointed to the value of imaginatively constructed curricula which both responded to and captured students interests. These curricula sought to break out of the confines of traditional introductions to disciplines, through an emphasis on problem solving and interdisciplinary studies. Such initiatives, however, appear to have been a passing phase related to the disturbance of academic life in the student protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The important question to come out of such efforts and one which has been largely ignored so far is whether some of what was found to be effective in experimental programs could be taken into the regular programs of departments and faculties.

There is no doubt that the problems remain. Surveys by C. Williams (1982) and Williams and Pepe (1983) provided evidence of student dissatisfaction which is cause for concern. Moreover, Beswick's (1983a) finding of relative consistency in the motives and attitudes of students over the period since the early 1970s points to the possibility of more trouble, but it will depend upon the circumstances. One of the difficulties is that much which needed attention in purely academic terms has tended to be construed in terms of ideologically inspired political comment. There has been little critical work to distinguish those aspects of academic discontent and possible reforms which can be validated in academic terms from those which are primarily aspects of external political agenda.

Smolicz and Nunan (1975) provide one example of an attempt to deal with the relationship between school, undergraduate and post-graduate education in terms of the philosophical foundations of the curriculum. Crotty (1981) gives an interesting example of paradigm shift in theological education, and Kable (1978) has investigated the philosophy and design of management courses. Connor (1973) attempted to develop a rationale for general studies programmes, Fensham (1977) discussed dimensions for defining the curriculum, and Kenny (1984) has described the approach being adopted at RMIT in the provision of a context curriculum for technological education. The difficulties of introducing limited curriculum changes, let alone the more general revisions favoured by many of these authors, are illustrated by Noble (1982 and 1983) and Wellard (1980) by reference to the institutional factors involved in course development. There will probably need to be more detailed attention given to courses in particular fields, like that of Adamson (1977) in respect of biological sciences or Lewis (1972) regarding design skills in engineering.

However, this has already taken place in medical education such as the Newcastle program described earlier. It may be difficult for radical departures from curricula based on the traditional disciplines and professions to succeed. It is possible that what many of the proposed reforms sought might be achieved by redesign in the light of a better understanding of how learning takes place in higher education.

Re-structuring of higher education

Quite remarkable structural changes in Australian higher education have taken place over the past twenty years, both at the institutional level and in regard to national and regional systems. The story of the first ten years or so after the reforms following the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia (1964) (Martin Report) is told from a system perspective concisely in Williams (1978). Anderson and Eaton (1982 a and b) referred briefly to the changes of climate in later years, noting particularly the title of collected works reflecting the policy concerns of the day, such as Higher Education in a Steady State (Powell 1978b), Accountability in Higher Education (Sheldrake and Linke, 1979), Academia Becalmed (Harman et al. 1980), The End of a Golden Age (Gross and Western, 1981), and A Time of Troubles (Anwyl and Harman, 1981). A period of expansion and diversification was followed by rationalisation and consolidation. The full story will not be told for some time yet.

The study of national policy questions has naturally attracted scholars working in institutions of higher education. The topics are intrinsically interesting, graduate students are likely to suggest them as thesis topics, and funds have sometimes been available for studies designed to assist government authorities in planning and review of policy. Indeed graduate courses have been developed in the study of higher education policy either separately or as an aspect of public policy, while students have seen a future in policy analysis and administration with skills in the area of government agencies and educational institutions. Harman (1984a) has given a systematic conceptualization of the policy process and the role of policy actors and an overview of Australian education policy in these terms is given by Beswick and Harman (1984).

Much of the writing on policy questions and processes has dealt with other topics than re-structuring but it has never been far from other concerns such as finance, planning (e.g. Hore et al. 1978; Higgins, 1980; Nelkenbaum, 1980; Neal, 1982; Nicholls, 1982; Hore and West, 1984) or co-ordination (e.g. Hext, 1981; Harman, 1984b). In particular, a good deal of attention has been given to the role of the Commonwealth commissions (e.g. Gallagher, 1982) and committees of advice (e.g. Scott, 1984) through which much of the restructuring has been brought about, although as Harman (1981 and 1982) has pointed out in detail, the most dramatic re-structuring occurred when abnormal political initiatives were taken in the Review of Commonwealth Functions by a Cabinet sub-committee (the 'Razor Gang' of 1981). A general overview of the relationship between governments and universities since 1959 has been provided by B. Williams (1982) and it is particularly significant in the light of his contribution as chairman of the Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training which reported in 1979. Varied perspectives may be seen in the papers presented at the AVCC Governing Bodies conference on University Government Relations (Anwyl, 1983). In addition, Harman (1983a) has undertaken an analysis of the erosion of university independence.

Restructuring in the period of expansion following the Martin Report consisted initially of the encouragement of diversity through the development of colleges of advanced education and to a lesser extent through the adoption of alternative models for new universities. Davies (1981) studied the establishment of the Martin Committee, and Treyvaud and McLaren (1976) published an important review of the development of the colleges some ten years after the policy was adopted. A detailed account of the functioning of the smaller regional colleges of advanced education in relation to their communities was provided at about the same time by Anderson et al. (1975). Later Meek (1984) published an illuminative case study of the history and functioning of one small college. For the most part these developments were regarded as successful although some need for rationalization was indicated, and it is significant that the Williams Committee failed to recognize the need in regard to the smaller single purpose teachers colleges which were later the prime target of the 1981 'Razor Gang'. Linke (1983) has given a useful account of how attempts at voluntary rationalization of teacher education failed between 1970 and 1980 and gave reasons for the final pressure from the Commonwealth in 1981.

Another line of development that received attention in the 1970s, namely the possible conversion of some colleges of advanced education into community colleges (Anwyl, 1979) has not eventuated in the terms then discussed. The concept of community colleges has recently been taken up more in relation to colleges of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) (Beswick et al. 1983). That debate is not yet over, and the recent encouragement of inter-sectoral arrangements by CTEC and the establishment of new multi-level institutions will bring these questions into focus again. The context is now different. The CAEs are now more firmly established as degree granting institutions sharing much in common with universities and the flexibility introduced by the idea of 'contracting' (see Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training, 1979) for courses of one sector to be taught in institutions of another sector has taken off some of the pressure for further rationalization. Nevertheless, the later stage of diversification in the development of the TAFE sector, the effect of reforms in upper secondary education and tertiary entrance, problems of access in disadvantaged areas and the need for some more effective mechanisms of transfer all call for some aspects of the community college concept to be reviewed.

It is still too early to expect to see major works resulting from the study of the extensive series of institutional amalgamations that have reduced the number of CAEs by about one half. Although Harman (1983b) had given a general treatment of the problem, the recent work of Harman et al. (1985) deals only with two cases of the merging of colleges in the period before the 'Razor Gang'. It concludes that there were gains in the quality of teaching and learning in those institutions which would have been unlikely to have occurred in small separate colleges, but that savings in recurrent expenditure were very small.


Contributions made to international scholarship through the study of local institutions are limited while attention is focussed on the immediate political and economic context. They can provide useful material for secondary analysis as in Burton Clark's (1983) comparative studies. However, more reflective treatment of the topics requires some distancing from immediate demands. As study in the field of higher education develops strength in its empirical base and more mature conceptual frameworks, the achievements of scholarship which are emerging will need to be carefully nurtured if significant contributions are to be made by cumulative and systematic research.


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