Addressing the basics: Academics' view of the purpose of higher education
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A number of changes have occurred in the higher education sector under the auspices of quality and quality improvement. Much of this change has resulted in a compliance-driven environment (more measures, more meetings, more form-filling and less time for the core activities of teaching and research). It is an environment that seeks to assure all and sundry of the quality of academic programs. Anecdotally, many academics are not convinced that the current systems do, indeed, assure quality. The reasons for this may be many and varied. One suggestion is that differences in perceptions about the purpose of higher education inevitably lead to differences in the definition of quality itself and consequently, differences in systems designed to assure that quality. Understanding what academics think about the purpose of higher education may provide some clues about how they consider quality should be defined.
In this research, the focus is on the views of academic accountants in Australia, defined as: academics whose main discipline area is accounting and who are involved in accounting education at an Australian university. The findings of this research show that the respondent group do, in fact, view the purpose of higher education currently promoted in their schools/departments differently from the purpose that they consider ought to be promoted. Such fundamental differences have the potential to influence the motivation and effectiveness of staff undertaking core activities in Australian universities. In addition, articulating the views of this important stakeholder group also has the potential to ensure that their views are considered in the discussions around purpose, quality and performance measures in higher education — all of which impact on the working lives of academic accountants in Australian universities.
KeywordsCritical Reasoning High Education Sector Quality Assurance System Efficient Teaching Academic Accountant
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