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Barber J. Foreword to 'Building Pathways: Lifelong Learning in the Construction Sector'. 2012.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/11242
Foreword to 'Building Pathways: Lifelong Learning in the Construction Sector'
As I write, a new era in the history of Australian tertiary education is beginning. In this year, 2012, the Federal Government's much anticipated 'demand-driven' funding model becomes operational, under which universities will be subject to the vagaries of the marketplace. No longer can universities rely on centrally determined allocations of student places to their courses. Instead, students will choose where to spend their funding allocations and on what courses. Nor is vocational education immune to the new policy environment, as students who would once have favoured a vocational course will now find themselves in the happy position of receiving multiple offers to undertake cognate courses in universities. No-one really knows what the consequences of such a fundamental policy shift will be, but academics in senior management positions like me are bracing themselves for the challenges ahead. In these uncertain times, it is at once sobering and reassuring to introduce such a well-researched monograph by nationally respected scholars and teachers. Sobering because the authors remind us that our core business is education, and that excellence in this enterprise must never be compromised in the pursuit of market share. And reassuring because accomplished academics like the authors of this work have maintained a passion for teaching that radiates through these pages. It is this passion that will sustain Australian tertiary education whatever the challenges before us. The monograph is a product of an Australian Learning and Teaching project on lifelong learning pathways to diversity in the construction industry. The project examined the critical importance of tertiary education and access to upskilling for the national construction industry, where over 50 per cent of the industry workforce still have no tertiary qualifications whatsoever. The project examined the various pathways models leading to a qualified construction workforce and the access such models provide for diverse, under-represented groups in tertiary education. The resultant monograph provides concrete examples of best practice pathways models and demonstrates how such models have moved from the equity arena into the mainstream of tertiary education in Australia. Along the way, the monograph raises timely questions about the boundaries between vocational and higher education in the new policy environment. For this reason, this is a significant contribution not just to the construction industry, but to tertiary education in general.