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Greater Access Choice and Flexibility: Learning at University of Canberra

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Attendees at the Recent Changes Camp 2011 at the University of Canberra

This project is for the development of a strategy paper for the University of Canberra on “Greater Access Choice and Flexibility - Forging linkages between the university and its diverse communities”.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor of Education has indicated this paper will be an extremely important contribution to the University as it maps our strategy for teaching and learning for 2011-2016. The paper will be formally presented to the University Education Committee in October 2011 for endorsement, with the deadline for our work being 26 September 2011.

We have considerable scope to shape this strategy though our final paper should be in a similar format and style to the strategy papers for the university's four other signature themes.

Signature themesEdit

This paper focuses on the first of five themes: Greater access, choice and flexibility for student learning. UC's

  1. Student access, choice and flexibility: Forging linkages between the university and its diverse student communities
  2. Work Integrated Learning: Forging linkages between education and work
  3. Interdisciplinary study: Forging linkages between disciplines and courses
  4. Research-led education: Forging linkages between research and teaching
  5. Intercultural student and staff capability: Forging linkages between cultures

The greater access, choice, and flexibility theme has been pursued during the 2008-2012 5-year strategic plan. The following statements accompany the first theme:

"The University community values "education as a transformative experience for all people irrespective of their origins, age and circumstance to be used for the public good", (Values Strategic Plan 2008-12).
The University wishes to provide a great student experience appropriate to the age, background and circumstances of a diverse student population, (Step 15 Strategic Plan 2008-12).
Online and blended learning has been targeted by the University in the Winter Term with a new Learning Management System (Moodle), streaming and podcasting availability, a teaching commons and a student learning commons also introduced.
A new Admissions Strategy was developed for 2009 with a new entry and access strategies and a new pathways scheme. New entry and access strategies include a regional bonus scheme, principal's recommendations, a gap year scheme and a new Canberra Award."

The Bradley Report into higher education options in the ACTEdit

The Bradley Report is a significant, and recently released document that will necessarily influence the directions and frameworks of this project. Below is a quote from page 16 that indicates strong support for a social justice perspective, and the innovative practices that can derive from that.

"Effectively Canberra Institute of Technology is now and the new dual sector university is likely to remain over the medium term the sole Australian Capital Territory (ACT) provider of publicly funded preparatory and other access programs for the severely educationally disadvantaged. This means that the responsibility to the ACT’s most disadvantaged will be profound and a much more significant responsibility for this university than it is in most other dual sector universities. But that is, too, a chance to consider whether this responsibility and point of difference could be established as a point of strength. Certainly, one of the questions which should be addressed during the planning phase is whether the new institution’s unique profile and responsibility for access to educational opportunities could mean there is an argument for all staff with expertise in this form of educational provision, whether at VET or Higher Education level, coming together in a separate and specialized organizational unit. Such a grouping could be a powerful base for innovation in practice and for research and development. National policy and national need requires new solutions and programs to improve access and success for the educationally disadvantaged. This new institution would be uniquely placed to be a leader in this critical area."

Remarks from the communityEdit

As a first step, we are soliciting remarks on "access, choice and flexibility - forging linkages between the university and its diverse communities", from the wider community. This could include, but would not be limited to:

  • Staff and students of UC
  • Staff and students from schools in the region
  • Community groups, particularly those engaged in educative activities
  • Businesses, professionals, and corporations
  • Local government from the region
  • Individuals with an opinion or experience to share

Please add your voice to the discussion page, we will extract specific suggestions on a strategic direction and place them below, or you can add them directly.

Strategy suggestionsEdit

The following suggestions have been either entered here directly, or have emerged from discussion on the discussion page:

  • "Given the time frame of 3-5 years, and the sector wide changes that we are expecting within 1 year, it is unrealistic to use this strategy document to make significant change proposals for the university as a whole - even though many would argue that such change is needed. Instead, I suggest that we be conservative in the main, building on the work done in the 2008-2012 period, but this time we provide enabling clauses that the innovative and energetic practitioners among us can exploit. These practitioners need more freedom and flexibility to test their ideas, they need unusual types of support, and they need the space to develop proof for their concepts over the next 3-5 years. These people's ideas may not be possible in the current framework of hierarchy, centralisation, performance measures, and funding, but they may none-the-less be extremely valuable innovations. So these clauses need to turn walls into port holes. This strategy suggestion is to value the edges, the small corners, the fringe, for the research and development work they do, and to ensure the University has mechanisms and proactive processes that can recognise their work, and absorb their innovations into the wider mainstream. In taking this approach over the next 3-5 years, the university will develop a diverse range of stories and experiences to draw on when they attempt to develop a strategy for the post 2015 period." Leighblackall 09:39, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
  • "I would suggest to draw on the efforts of people and organisations who have been thinking about these issues for a while: they're not particularly easy. To sum up, I think the innovations that Leigh Blackall talks about [above] could be "incubated" by strategic partners who are coming from outside of the University. Now is probably not the time for shameless self-promotion, but if you're interested in following up you know where to find me!" Arided 09:18, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
  1. Alumni becomes a "target market"
  2. The Alumni, and any presently enrolled students would be surveyed, indicating that UC would like to encourage participation from all past students in its continuing education program (along the lines of the ACE program). In the survey UC should pose that it is considering a broad offering of personal development, enrichment and recreational opportunities.
  3. At the same time the faculties are asked what they could contribute to the continuing education program (possibly linked with the open education program).
  4. Audit UC facilities and equipment to see what is available to for use in the program
  5. Take the feedback from the survey and sell the program back into the Alumni, the presently enrolled, as well as the wider community.

External linksEdit

  • ucspace (currently restricted to staff and students)