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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 12 June 11, 1968

Techs outdo varsities

Techs outdo varsities

Australia has 40 colleges of advanced education with about 40,000 students, in addition to its universities, said Dr I. R. Wark, Chairman of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education, Canberra, in an address at the AUT tertiary education seminar.

Describing Australia's binary system of tertiary education, Dr Wark said:

"In the early 60s, more and more students were going into universities and the colleges' image was suffering.

"Many university entrants had little chance of success and the failure rate was high.

"Although some students had been able to matriculate, they were incapable of benefitting fully from university studies. On the other hand the colleges, concentrating on practical training, probably would have been able to convert many of them into competent professionals.

"Some drastic changes were needed."

Summarising the subsequent changes, Dr Wark described the setting-up in 1961 by Sir Robert Menzies of a committee on tertiary education, and the creation in 1965 of the commonwealth advisory committee on advanced education. These committees dealt very fully with the problem. and helped build colleges of advanced education.

They are spending $1OO million in the 1967-1969 period and an additional $250,000 was set aside for research in the same period into related problems.

"The main difficulty lies in selecting which students will go on to the technician course, who will go into the technological courses in the colleges and who into honours courses in the universities," Dr Wark said.

"Too often, the technician is the 'failed' technologist or scientist. It would have been better if we had diverted him earlier towards work for which he is better suited and for which the community has a vital need.

"For the first time, the colleges are being provided with sites and buildings to match the universities'; the staff are obtaining just salaries and working conditions; and, most important, sections of industry and commerce, and government departments, too. are beginning to prefer college graduates for many jobs," he said.

Stressing the financial problems of education and the need for research and re-thinking, Dr Wark said: "Much of the money available to universities throughout the whole world has been rendered less productive by unnecessary duplication of courses.

"If the educational establishments cannot themselves muster sufficient sense to agree on some reasonable system of rationalisation and co-operation, then the community —which provides the money?will be forced to insist upon it."