EDUCATION INDUSTRY IN TURMOIL, OR JUST EVOLVING? NEWS FROM AUSTRALIA
By John Mason
Principal, ACS Distance Education www.acsedu.co.uk and www.acs.edu.au
Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, looks at the current changes in education from an Australian perspective.
Whilst many parts of the higher education industry are in turmoil, this does not mean all of the industry is in decline as a whole. Some parts of the industry are experiencing rapid growth.
How then can the industry evolve as a whole to suit learners and employer demands?
The $20 billion dollars in educational exports that Australian universities bring in annually have been jeopardised due to travel restrictions and classroom teaching shutdowns that we have seen in 2020 during the pandemic. There are other factors that have been troubling the higher education system before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
In the News
There have been many reports and negative newspaper articles that have emerged this year on higher and vocational education and the troubles the industry is experiencing. For example, The Guardian (Australia) had the following articles in August 2020:
From ABC News 18/8/20
From Campus Review August/July
Note: Similar alarming reports are being seen in the UK, USA and many other countries.
WHY THE TURMOIL?
To understand what is happening, let’s consider how things have changed in the wider world.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
There is no doubt that the need to learn will continue to be important, but where and how people learn is in a state of rapid change. There will continue to be opportunities to work in education, but the education industry may be morphing from an “education” industry, into a “learning” services industry.
Nature of Education
The scope and nature of the education industry is changing. Employer driven needs is driving, and the trends appear to be:
In the past, education was mostly owned and operated by public institutions. That has been changing. Independent private colleges have expanded their market share and also offered courses that larger institutions do not and in different modalities. Big tech & multinational companies have been entering the education market space and gaining a large market share. Small and medium size private institutions have been expanding market share but there has been a lot of volatility. This includes the thousands of private RTO’s in Australia have started up and closed down since 2000.
The education industry in is morphing into a more diverse “learning industry”. It is volatile, largely unpredictable, driven by a mixture of unethical opportunists focused on the short term, through to more ethical innovators; together with many well established institutions, some taking bold and sometimes successful steps to adapt to the volatility, together with others who are lost in the volatility and unable to adapt to the new and emerging world of education. Matching needs and demands of employers and businesses, will help shape what the “Learning Industry” will look like in the future.