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Support for core educational role of universities

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has restated its support for the core educational role of the university in the liberal arts and fundamental sciences.

The Government is currently conducting a strategic review of the tertiary education system and its funding framework. Within that context, the National President of the AUS, Dr Grant Duncan, said that “the case in favour of a liberal education in the arts and humanities or in the natural and social sciences has never been stronger.”

He noted, however, that many students feel forced or obliged to undertake courses of study that have a narrowly vocational purpose, such as law, business or engineering.

“Each student”, he said, “should be supported in following his or her interests and passions. It is much better for a person’s development to perform well in the completion of, say, an arts degree than to drag oneself reluctantly through a business degree.”

Many universities overseas are now placing greater emphasis on learning outcomes like critical thinking, aesthetic and ethical awareness, cultural and creative capabilities, communication, and civic responsibility. And widespread knowledge of the basic sciences will be increasingly important for a nation’s participation in future economic innovation.

Dr Duncan commented that “it is pleasing to see that so many educators and employers are recognising the renewed significance and value of the traditional types of liberal education provided by the universities.”

He noted that the new legislation would continue to require universities to provide an advanced education that promotes intellectual independence and that is closely linked to research. Universities would continue to be repositories of knowledge and to act as a critic and conscience of society.

Contact numbers for Dr Grant Duncan: 021 680 475
(09) 443 9773 (wk)
(09) 361 3660 (hm)

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