Rethinking Australia’s higher education system: towards a diversified system for the 21st century, Howard Partners, 2021.

Rethinking Australian higher education is a comprehensive study of the Australian higher education system. It points to:

  • Universities’ having to compromise their education mission by an overarching imperative to generate revenue to fund research and campus expansion.
  • The growing complexity of universities’ finance and the need to manage commercially-oriented financial performance metrics
  • The progressive movement of the unified system to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ culture of rules, commands, and controls.
  • Opportunities arising in the next phase of the higher education industry’s growth cycle are characterised by rationalisation, transformation, and innovation.

The themes draw together in a call for a more diversified system that addresses differing market (demand) segments, including demand for STEM knowledge and skills, and sets out several challenges to create a system that allows and encourages different institutions to play to their strengths.

As Distinguished Professor Glyn Davis AC says in the Preface, not everyone will agree with what’s in the book, but the overall purpose is to contribute to discussion and debate about the future of higher education in Australia.

Like all things, the story is complex. But the book attempts to sort through the underlying issues at both the institutional and system levels and propose solutions and strategies as a way forward.

The book reflects Dr Howard’s knowledge, experience, and insights into the higher education system accumulated through:

  • His innovation policy work, over 20 years, that has included numerous interactions with higher education leaders and stakeholders in business, government and the community
  • Working in the system in academic and non-academic roles
  • As a management consultant with a deep interest in universities as organisations – from the governance, leadership, management, financial and engagement perspectives.

His insights are backed up with research and data.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss aspects of the book with me.


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