Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 7, No. 2 (2010)

Futureproofing Faculties of Education in Australian Regional Universities: Three Sites of Pressure and Possibility

Nita Temmerman, USQ
Karen Noble, USQ
P.A. Danaher, USQ

Abstract

Australian regional universities operate at the intersection of multiple and conflicting discourses, seeking to engage potentially disenfranchised learners outside the metropolis yet possessing less cultural and financial capital than their metropolitan counterparts. So too with faculties of education in such universities, which fulfil a crucial role in preparing future teachers while being positioned at a distance from ‘pure’ research, thereby highlighting their somewhat ambiguous legitimacy. Many of these competing discourses are evident in the final report of the Bradley Review of Australian higher education (Commonwealth of Australia, 2008), which contains some useful ideas for regional universities to consider but devalues the vital part played by cultural, geographical and physical place in framing those universities’ interactions with their local communities. This article explores three sites of pressure and possibility in helping to futureproof faculties of education in Australian regional universities against this kind of devaluation. These sites are centred on distinctive and valuable contributions in the areas of teacher education programs, teacher education student support and doctoral education. This exploration is underpinned conceptually by the interplay between human capital (mentioned in the Bradley Review) and social capital (not acknowledged in the Review but fundamental to recognising the service of regional faculties of education to multiple stakeholders and their significant function in building both types of capital). The authors argue that this interplay lies at the heart of helping to sustain regional communities and the nation as a whole.

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