My childhood was influenced in some measure by two great icons that no longer exist. The first was Kodak – I adored my Box Brownie and I still have the wonderful grainy black and white pics. The second great icon was larger than Kodak: it was a stack of books known as Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The childhood I experienced was not unusual. For baby boomers, Kodak was our memory collector of choice and Encyclopaedia Britannica the Google of its day. But neither has survived the remorseless advance of the digital economy.
The invention of the internet, the inevitable convergence to a mobile phone or tablet, and the discovery of how to monetise a digital transaction have been death blows to these two icons and to so many others we can all name. And this transformation is far from finished.
The caps are coming off and university administrations are nervous. Just what a demand driven system means for university recruitment, no-one really knows for sure. What I know for sure is that as well as ensuring recruitment targets are met, we need to be ready to ensure the success of the students we recruit, especially the ones who are from underprivileged backgrounds.
I think we should give them all schoalrships, bursaries, stipends and all the other versions of free money available. Lucky I don't rule the university world or we'd be spending a bit of money (and maybe keeping more students to completion...ahem).
We also need to assist those who aren't familiar with the discourses and norms of higher education to understand what is expected of them as university students and to learn to perform in ways that ensure their success. Easy to type, hard to do. But some research I led last year has some cool tips.
Edited extract of address to the Business Leader’s Luncheon in Warrnambool on Monday 26 September.
My topic today is, “Does a University town bring real benefits or is it all just spin?”
Many towns do not have a university. Those that do are often fiercely proud of what they have. All towns put up a fight at the merest rumour that the University will close or leave town.
So what is it all about? Is it just spin and fluff? Or is there more to it?