Prosperity in the future depends on our ability to play our part in a more globalised, technologically-enhanced knowledge economy. Universities are widely seen as portals to success, and an ever greater proportion of Australians expect to attend at least one of these institutions. However, despite strong demand, universities are under pressure. They face constant criticism about the irrelevance and responsiveness, are subject to regular government review and reform, and their budgets have been squeezed for decades. International rankings, global competition for students, profound technological disruption and the rise of new providers have heightened the risks of falling behind. Many academics are unhappy with their lot, and students are paying more. While solutions to these problems have been put forward, few have been completely resolved. It is widely held that universities will have to change radically if Australia is to compete on the world stage.
Peter Coaldrake and Lawrence Stedman’s seminal and comprehensive analysis of the challenges faced by the higher education sector has been updated with revisions and a new chapter that addresses current policy and proposed reforms. They argue that neither the market nor central government will be able to shape higher education in an optimal way. Facing greater competition and reduced prospects for public funding, universities themselves must provide the impetus and take responsibility for change as they adapt to complex and uncertain futures.