Submission by the by hjkuiw354


									Submission by the


to the

DEST Higher Education Group Quality Improvement Unit

In response to

Issues Paper – ‘Building University Diversity: Future approval and accreditation
processes for Australian higher education

The Australian Maritime College (AMC) is a niche provider of education, training and
research for the maritime industries. It is supported as a higher education institution by
the Australian government under the provisions of the Maritime College Act 1978.
Funding is provided under the Higher Education Funding Act 1988, AMC is publicly
recognised on the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Register of Authorities
empowered by Government to Accredit Post-Compulsory Education and Training, and it
is registered with the Commonwealth under the Education Services for Overseas Students
Act 2000 on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas
Students (CRICOS).

AMC is a small institution among Australian Universities and has a key corporate goal of
achieving the title of the Australian Maritime University.

General Points
AMC supports the Minister’s position in the Foreword to the Issues Paper that ‘It is
neither necessary nor desirable for all universities to be the same.’ In fact, AMC supports
diversity in the sector and agrees that a ‘one size fits all’ model for a university is no
longer appropriate in Australia.

In the BACKGROUND section of the Issues Paper, clause 2.7 refers to the Protocols
recognizing ‘two distinct types of higher education institutions – universities and non
self-accrediting institutions.’ In fact, AMC is a self-accrediting institution that does not
currently have the university title. As we are also recognized by the Protocols, this clause
should more correctly refer to three types of institutions.

AMC supports many of the Recommendations in the Guthrie Review [1], particularly the
need to make Protocol 1 more explicit with respect to ‘breadth of study’
(Recommendation 7) and the need to include guidelines concerning academic staff

(Recommendation 10). The suggestion that an additional criterion be included to require
compliance with the National Governance Protocols for Higher Education Providers is
also supported (Recommendation 8). We also share the argument provided in the Guthrie
Review (Page 11) that ‘the Protocols represent a form of gate-keeping controlled by those
already within the sector to keep out new and different entrants.’

Specific Response to Questions for Discussion
At AMC we consider that we are disadvantaged, especially in our foreign recruitment, by
the lack of the university title, so we are naturally very interested in this component of the
National Protocols. Briefly, we believe that teaching, scholarship and research all should
remain important attributes of an Australian university. The interaction of the three is an
important component in the excellence of each. We will make comment on the following
question posed by the discussion paper: Should the National Protocols should allow for
the creation of ‘specialist’ institutions covering only a narrow field of study rather
than a wide range of disciplines? Should such institutions be called universities?

The issue of ‘breadth of offerings’ necessary for the title “university” is the main factor in
these discussions and is the issue of most interest to AMC. Unfortunately the Issues
Paper frames this issue in language that biases the outcome to some extent. Although
sometimes called “specialist”, the adjective more often used is “narrow”. We do not
believe that narrow is an appropriate description of quality education. However there is a
lot of territory between “narrow” and “wide range” and we believe that the minimum
breadth necessary for university title lies somewhere between. We also support
Recommendation 7 of the Guthrie Review [1] that ‘a new university is required to have at
least three fields of study…’

Most would agree that exposure of both students and academic staff to a range of
disciplines and a diversity of ideas and opinions greatly increases the quality of the
educational experience. However, is a large, multi-campus university truly a better
provider of this broadening experience? For example, engineering or medical students at
large capital city campuses often have a very restricted contact with other disciplines.
Regional and foreign campuses can offer only a very narrow range of disciplines with
sometimes a single course. We maintain that smaller universities and specialised (but not
narrowly focussed) institutions are better providers of quality breadth to students and
staff. Particularly, in specialised institutions, disciplines are in close daily contact and
multi-disciplinary teams in both teaching and research are common and often essential to
the delivery of the programs. Students are both taught by and have meaningful contact
with a diverse academic staff. In large institutions, exposure of students to the
university’s breadth can result in little meaningful contact with lecturers. These lecturers
from other disciplines often stand in front of very large classes or are from programs that
have no direct input to the student’s program and are housed in a building somewhere
across campus that the student never enters.

In summary, therefore, AMC supports the position that the National Protocols should
allow for specialist institutions and that such institutions should be able to use the
university title.


[1]    Guthrie, G., Johnston, S. and King, R. (2004), Further Development of the
       National Protocols for Higher Education Approval Processes: A report for the
       Department of Education, Science and Training.


Dr. Neil Otway                             Professor Tom Hardy
President                                  Vice-President, Academic and Research
Australian Maritime College                Australian Maritime College

Telephone:    (03) 6335 4700              Telephone:     (03) 6335 4713
E-mail:          Email:

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