February  2021, 1(1): 1-16. doi: 10.3934/steme.2021001

The trifecta for curriculum sustainability in Australian universities

1. 

School of Engineering and Technology, Central Queensland University, Bruce Highway, North Rockhampton, QLD 4702, Australia

* Correspondence: w.guo@cqu.edu.au; Tel: +61-7-49309687

Academic Editor: Hepu Deng

Received  December 2020 Revised  January 2021 Published  February 2021

Commercialization and internationalization of tertiary education has opened a new way for universities to grow and make more profit. This in turn has supported sustainable growth of the higher education sector for the last three decades in developed countries. Curricula offered by accredited tertiary institutions must meet the quality standards set by both the governmental agencies and the professional accreditation bodies. These programs must also provide graduates with employment opportunities. Hence, quality and employment opportunities are the two key factors for sustainability of any degree program offered by tertiary institutions. However, changes in regulations and policies by the national government sometimes play a vital role in creating new programs, and maintaining or disestablishing some existing programs offered by institutions in the nation. These changes are not controlled by individual institutions, which has become the third unpredictable factor in curriculum creation and/or sustainability. Using the journey of a new master's program in information technology (IT) in an Australian university as a case study, we explore how this third factor impacted on the initialization, creation, and short life of this program primarily targeting international students in the mid-2000s. We then extend our discussion to the implications of the recent changes to tertiary tuitions from 2021 by the Australian Government on the sustainable future of the Australian tertiary education sector on a broad scale.

Citation: William Guo, Wei Li, Roland Dodd, Ergun Gide. The trifecta for curriculum sustainability in Australian universities. STEM Education, 2021, 1 (1) : 1-16. doi: 10.3934/steme.2021001
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Zaglas, W. (2020) Arts degree was 'probably the best thing that ever happened' to me: reforms may turn Indigenous Australians off university. Campus Review 2020: October. Google Scholar

show all references

References:
[1]

K.J. Kennedy, Developing a curriculum guarantee for overseas students, Higher Education Research & Development, 14 (1995), 35-46.   Google Scholar

[2]

A. Devos, Academic Standards, Internationalisation, and the Discursive Construction of "The International Student", Higher Education Research & Development, 22 (2003), 155-166.   Google Scholar

[3]

D.J. Bradmore and K.X. Smyrnios, The writing on the wall: responses of Australian public universities to competition in global higher education, Higher Education Research & Development, 28 (2009), 495-508.   Google Scholar

[4]

Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) (2020) Onshore higher education international students as a proportion of all students by university in 2019: Research Snapshot 2020: September. Google Scholar

[5]

Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) (2020) International students in Australia up to 2019: Research Snapshot 2020: August. Google Scholar

[6]

Isserstedt, W., Schnitzer, K. (2005) Internationalization of higher education: foreign students in Germany and German students abroad, In: Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Berlin. Google Scholar

[7]

P.G. Altbach and J. Knight, The internationalization of higher education: motivations and realities, Journal of Studies in International Education, 11 (2007), 290-305.   Google Scholar

[8]

R. Clothey, Current trends in higher education: internationalization in Asia and Oceania, Comparative & International Higher Education, 1 (2009), 3-4.   Google Scholar

[9]

A. ZolfaghariM.S. Sabran and A. Zolfaghari, Internationalization of higher education: Challenges, strategies, policies and programs, US-China Education Review, 6 (2009), 1-9.   Google Scholar

[10]

T. Adams, The Development of international education in Australia: A framework for the future, Journal of Studies in International Education, 11 (2007), 410-420.   Google Scholar

[11]

G. Gribble and J. Blackmore, Re-positioning Australia's international education in global knowledge economies: implications of shifts in skilled migration policies for universities, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 34 (2012), 341-354.   Google Scholar

[12]

M. AndersonC. McInnis and R. Hartley, Employment outcomes of science graduates in Australia: Implications for choice and diversity in the curriculum, Tertiary Education and Management, 9 (2003), 61-76.   Google Scholar

[13]

S. McKinnon and J. Mccrae, Closing the gap: Preparing computing students for employment through embedding work-related learning in the taught curriculum, Industry and Higher Education, 26 (2012), 315-320.   Google Scholar

[14]

M. WoodS. TaylorA. Carroll and N.C. Hansen, Surveying employment listings to inform curricula of environmental science degree programs, Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 7 (2017), 346-354.   Google Scholar

[15]

C. Smith and K. Worsfold, Unpacking the learning-work nexus: 'priming' as lever for high-quality learning outcomes in work-integrated learning curricula, Studies in Higher Education, 40 (2015), 22-42.   Google Scholar

[16]

P. GraingerG. Crimmins and K. Burton, Assuring the quality of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment across satellite campuses, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 43 (2019), 589-600.   Google Scholar

[17]

Hammer, S., Ayriss, P., McCubbin, A. (2020) Style or substance: how Australian universities contextualise their graduate attributes for the curriculum quality space. Higher Education Research & Development, DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2020.1761304. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2020.1761304.  Google Scholar

[18]

Coulouris, G., Dollimore, J., Kindberg, T. (2001) Distributed systems: concepts and design (3rd ed.). Addison-Wesley. Google Scholar

[19]

Tanenbaum, A.S., van Steen, M. (2002) Distributed systems: principles and paradigms. Prentice Hall. Google Scholar

[20]

W.W. Guo, Incorporating statistical and neural network approaches for student course satisfaction analysis and prediction, Expert Systems with Applications, 37 (2010), 3358-3365.   Google Scholar

[21]

W.W. GuoW. LiY. Wang and J. Shen, Analysis of student course evaluation data for an IT subject: Implications for improving STEM education, International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 7 (2017), 635-640.   Google Scholar

[22]

Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) (2020) The 2019 export income by state and territory: Research Snapshot 2020: August. Google Scholar

[23]

Australian Government (2016) National Strategy for International Education 2025. Canberra Google Scholar

[24]

Yuping Ma and Suyan Pan, Chinese returnees from overseas study: An understanding of brain gain and brain circulation in the age of globalization, Frontiers of Education in China, 10 (2015), 306-329.   Google Scholar

[25]

Chinese Ministry of Education (2016) The Blue Book on the Return and Employment of Chinese Overseas Students. Beijing. Google Scholar

[26]

China CITIC Bank (2016) China overseas study 2016. Beijing Google Scholar

[27]

The Guardian, Australian universities to cut hundreds of courses as funding crisis deepens, 2020. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/30/australian-universities-to-cut-hundreds-of-courses-as-funding-crisis-deepens. Google Scholar

[28]

Financial Review, Second wave of university job cuts coming next year, 2020. Available from: https://www.afr.com/work-and-careers/education/second-wave-of-university-job-cuts-coming-next-year-20200917-p55wg2. Google Scholar

[29]

Business Insider Australia, This is how many jobs each Australian university has cut – or plans to – in 2020, 2020. Available from: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/australian-university-job-cuts-losses-tally-2020-9. Google Scholar

[30]

Coleborne, C. (2020) HASS experts are 'deeply disappointed' with the higher education reforms: opinion. Campus Review 2020: October. Google Scholar

[31]

Zaglas, W. (2020) Arts degree was 'probably the best thing that ever happened' to me: reforms may turn Indigenous Australians off university. Campus Review 2020: October. Google Scholar

Figure 1.  The standard ISO Communication Model
Figure 2.  The modified ISO Communication Model
Figure 3.  The Internet Communication Model
Figure 4.  Networked communication models in relation to the design of MNDS
Figure 5.  Logical structure of MNDS
Figure 6.  Actual enrolments in PDSD (blue) and forecasted enrollments for MNT in 2005-2006
Table 1.  Initial program structure for the MNDS
Core units in first and second semesters
Network Technology Distributed Systems
Network Technology 1 (NT1) Principles of Distributed Systems Design (PDSD)
Network Technology 2 (NT2) Administration and Programming in Linux (APL)
Network Technology 3 (NT3) Programming for Distributed Systems (PDS)
Third semester
Either Project Preparation
Project 1
Project 2
or three units from Computer Security
Information Security
Network Security
Wireless and Mobile Computing Security
Internet Security 1
Internet Security 2
Core units in first and second semesters
Network Technology Distributed Systems
Network Technology 1 (NT1) Principles of Distributed Systems Design (PDSD)
Network Technology 2 (NT2) Administration and Programming in Linux (APL)
Network Technology 3 (NT3) Programming for Distributed Systems (PDS)
Third semester
Either Project Preparation
Project 1
Project 2
or three units from Computer Security
Information Security
Network Security
Wireless and Mobile Computing Security
Internet Security 1
Internet Security 2
Table 2.  Teaching evaluation for PDSD during 2005-2006
Semester Students enrolled Students returned feedback (rate) Teaching satisfaction (%)
S1/2005 39 25 (64%) 89
S2/2005 28 22 (79%) 81
S1/2006 15 12 (80%) 100
S2/2006 11 9 (82%) 92
Semester Students enrolled Students returned feedback (rate) Teaching satisfaction (%)
S1/2005 39 25 (64%) 89
S2/2005 28 22 (79%) 81
S1/2006 15 12 (80%) 100
S2/2006 11 9 (82%) 92
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