While popularly associated with the advent of web-based technologies, DE is not a new phenomenon (Ragusa et al. 2009, 679)." The author asserts that during the nineteenth century many universities had correspondence programs. These programs remained popular for many years because they were different from more conventional learning environments. At the current time, distance education is driven by the pace of technological change and such changes are occurring globally in a manner that is rapid and complex. There are currently more than 130 countries in which institutions of higher learning provide students with distance courses (Ragusa et al. 2009). These courses often have as a foundation new information and communication technologies. The author also explains that
"In Australia, DE has particularly been embraced, at institutional and policy levels, as a means of extending higher education to rural, isolated, and often structurally disadvantaged learners (little or no access to a reliable internet source and/or library resources or even in some cases electricity). Although the physical limitations imposed by geography, particularly rural geographies, impact individual choice and availability of learning style, and thereby make DE a more attractive option to some, according to the NSW Department of Education and Training (Ragusa et al. 2009, 680),"
Indeed, in the current technology age it is vitally important that technology becomes one of the central aspects of instruction. The failure to properly utilize technology also places students at a disadvantage because they will be less prepared can his/her contemporaries from around the world. Technology has been the key to globalization in recent years and without the presence of technology any higher education goals that Australia has will end in complete failure. Students must know how to maneuver around computers if they are going to be productive in the future. Interactive technology tools such as stimulus projects for business classes require the use of computer software. This software informs managers concerning budget, marketing operations and timelines are all contained on the software. This type of learning tool is important to have because it allows students to learn and formulate opinions about business in an environment that they feel comfortable in because of the use of computers.
Implementation of Best Practices
Obviously there are many different policies that can be adopted as part of a wide ranging initiative to improve the higher education system in Australia. These policies must be carefully implemented to ensure success. According to Gray & Radloff (2010), "In higher education it has been said that 'Effective planning creates focus, direction, and energy. Most important, strategic plans can assist in building a shared commitment to a common future' (Filan & Seagren, 2003, p. 21) and a strategic plan has been shown to be an advantage in a university that sought to operate as a complex adaptive system (McMillan & Carlisle, 2007) (Gray & Radloff 2010,292)." Indeed the proper implementation of best practices policies are as important as the policies themselves.
Prior to the development of any strategy to implement best practices policies, there must be a consensus about the most important steps that need to be taken and in what order change needs to occur. This will require the cooperation and collaboration of many different experts in the field of education. Such efforts are necessary because they decrease the likelihood that implementation will fail and these efforts also increase the likelihood that the decisions made as a result of the collaboration are efficient and effective.
As a result of Australia's low percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with bachelor degrees when compared to other countries, it is recommended that the Australian government establish new goals. This means by 2020 the Australian government should establish the goal of 40% of the aforementioned population attaining a bachelor's degree (Bailey, 2008). Setting such goals is an important part of reinforcing the importance of higher education in Australian society while also improving the number of university educated individuals to meet the demand for the skills they possess.
Bailey (2008) also emphasizes the dire need for scholarships. Scholarships are particularly important for groups that are underrepresented in higher education including indigenous Australians and poor Australians. In addition Bailey asserts that international students should also receive scholarships. As a result the author recommends that "the Australian Government provide up to 1,000 tuition subsidy scholarships per year for international students in higher degree by research programs targeted to areas of skills shortage. The scholarships would give the recipients the benefit of being enrolled on the same basis as domestic students (Bailey, 2008). " The purpose of such a policy goes back to the idea of transferring knowledge and understanding cultural differences in an increasingly global world.
In addition, one of the primary recommendations is the need for the Australian government to strictly adhere to the best practices suggestion made by Bailey and others. One of the central themes presented by Bailey and others is the need for Australia to embrace its own diversity. The indigenous people of Australia have been affected by years of governmental and social abuses. As a result, their presence on university campuses in Australia is sorely lacking. Therefore it is recommended that programs be developed that strictly target indigenous groups. Such programs will reflect the idea that indigenous people are welcomed to come to university and study. Fostering this type of relationship promotes trust and encourages involvement. If Australia can understand the importance of having a type of diversity on campus that is reflected in Australian society, great things can occur. Not only does the education of indigenous people benefit the aboriginal people but is also has an important impact on the entire country. This occurs because education serves as one of the primary means by which people can lift themselves out of poverty. This leads to a decrease in overall levels of poverty and this decrease in poverties fosters the development of a society with less crime and a higher quality of life.
The other major practice that must be put into use immediately is the various uses of technology that can nurture an environment in which students feel more at ease. Although many universities throughout Australia have incorporated some technology into the classroom, this practice has not fully been exploited. Additionally, technology is vitally important to Australia's higher education progress because it allows remote users to receive an education. This means that anyone with internet access can receive an education. The use of technology in this way could also encourage to attainment of an education by people who live in more rural areas.
Overall it is recommended that those with the authority to determine the role of education in Australian society recognize the responsibility that they have. Global competition can be a real threat to the ability of a country to maintain its high living standards and economic stability. The research indicates that the people of Australia are already lagging behind many countries in the world, if this continues Australians may have a difficult time recovering and such recovery efforts could eventually become impossible. With these things understood, it is recommended that the Australian government take swift and immediate action to implement best practice techniques into the higher education system in Australia.
The purpose of this discussion was to explore best practice in International Education in Australia. Overall the research indicates that Australia is facing an extremely difficult crossroads. On the one hand, the nation remains one of the most educated societies in the world. On the other hand, the number of university educated people in Australia will not continue to keep pace with demand. With these things understood there are certain practices that can and should be adopted so that success can be present in the future.
As it pertains to the best practice that must be adopted issues such as diversity, funding, community engagement, the use of technology and tuition breaks for international students were all important policies that must be addressed and properly implemented into a new paradigm. This new paradigm will be designed to allow the free flow of information and allow Australia to flourish as it seeks to clarify and restructure the role of education in society. The overall purpose of the paradigm shift is to increase the number of university graduates. Accomplishing the goal in the years to come will be challenging but also important because the skills acquired in higher education classrooms will be in demand. The Australian government must therefore taeke the initiative necessary to implement certain standards and be brave enough to enforce these standards as it pertains to Australia and education.
Bradley. Review of Australian Higher Education. Retrieved online from: http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Review/Documents/PDF/Higher%20Education%20Review_one%20document_02.pdf
Filan, G.L., & Seagren, A.T. (2003). Six critical issues for midlevel leadership in post-secondary settings. New Directions for Higher Education, (124), 21 -- 31.
Gray K. & RadloffA. (2010). Higher Education Research & Development