Losing Your Education

Cory Bernardi
Cory Bernardi
Losing Your Education

Our Universities are failing our children and our country. However, there is one bright light amongst them

I usually describe myself as a conservative.

That's because I happen to think there are some things worth preserving for future generations. Somehow, mostly thanks to reframing of the word by the political left, Conservative has become a dirty word.

But when you think about it, conserving what is tried and tested from history for the benefit of future generations is wise and prudent.

Us conservatives aren't opposed to change it's just that we want change to have appositive end rather than be an end in itself.

The left, or the progressives or whatever else they like to call themselves see change, whatever it may be as the measure of success.

Consider for instance the movement to make Australia a republic. Many think it's a great idea but what type of republic do they want?

If you ask them if they want one like America most will answer no.

How about France, you can choose from the five versions they have had. Maybe a republic modelled on Zimbabwe or Iran or Switzerland or Ireland.

They all operate differently and in this example, like in so  many demands for change, it's the detail that is far more important than the 'vibe'.

That's why people like me are open to change but want to understand the rationale and the consequences of significant changes.

Abandoning the collective wisdom of hundreds of generations doesn't make a lot of sense.

You see our ancestors ditched the stuff that didn't work and kept improving upon the things that did. That process has allowed civilisation to prosper and grow.

Every now and again, some generation ignores the lessons of history and recommits to discovering mistakes for themselves. These societal errors could easily be avoided but that requires a good knowledge of history and an open debate about the merits of what is proposed.

Traditionally, history and debate have been hallmarks of our education system. Unfortunately that has now fallen victim to the folly of the cultural experiment that is being played out on our children and young adults.

Time honoured learning techniques have been abandoned. The basics are being ignored and our kids are learning less as a result. Just look at the literacy, numeracy and behavioural standards, they've been going the wrong way for decades.

When it comes to higher education, things are even worse.

Almost every child is now expected to go to university, even if they aren't suited for it. They get degrees in social studies and the like and then peddle new societal experiments that reduces humanity to subjects in a giant socialist petri-dish.

A recent audit of Australia's top ten ranked universities reveals that the humanities are no longer concerned with the intellectual and cultural inheritance of Western Civilisation.

It found that just 177 of the 1181 subjects taught in this space were offered on the core topics that should be the basis for each discipline.  Instead, the courses are filled with Identity politics, critical race theory and gender.

Little wonder the world is in such a mixed-up state right now.

It's also alarming that open debate is shunned on many higher education campuses.

Research by the Institute of Public Affairs found 41% of students felt they sometimes couldn't express their opinion at university and 59% found they were prevented from voicing that opinion by other students.

The survey covered all political viewpoints but a large cohort of students (44% of males and 23% of females) said they have been made to feel uncomfortable by a university teacher for expressing their opinion.

There are reports of students with 'right wing' perspectives receiving lower grades or those presenting different viewpoints being 'counselled'.  

It paints a pretty bleak picture about freedom of speech on the hallowed university grounds.

And it's not just the students.

Professor Peter Ridd, formerly of James Cook University was silenced and sacked for interrogating the research of his fellow professors in respect to the Great Barrier Reef.

It's no surprise that while a university degree is now seen as a necessary filter for some employment opportunities, and my own experiences speaking to business leaders in Australia is that an increasing number of firms are now presuming their graduate employees will need to unlearn most of what they have been taught.

Our education sector, including our universities are failing the Australian people and it is costing us a fortune.

Let's remember that government funds degrees and is expected to have around $80 billion outstanding in student loans in the years ahead.  The government expects around a quarter of that – that's $20 billion – will never be repaid.

Is that the students fault? Maybe it is. Or maybe it is our fault.

We have stood by and watched while the system has got worse and worse. Politicians have thrown money at education, particularly university education without demanding better outcomes.

In short, we are now reaping what has been sown over past decades and there seems little appetite to overhaul a sector that is consuming vast amounts of taxpayers cash and delivering such poor results for our children.

While it is a pretty bleak picture I painted, there are some institutions of higher learning that are focussed on outcomes for their alumni rather than conditioning them.

One of those institutions is Bond University on the Gold Coast.

Bond is different to other universities in that it pursues an individual approach to learning. They invest in their students and in return they expect the students to invest in themselves.

They have a unique accelerated learning program that gets young adults degree qualified, job ready and into the workforce in as little as two years.

It features programs that take education beyond the classroom and into the real world. From my perspective, one of the most important things they do is make entrepreneurship at the core of almost every study program.

Today was graduation day for some Bond students and earlier today I was delighted to talk with the Vice Chancellor of Bond University, Professor Tim Brailsford.

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