Another circle, another idea

I met someone today called Frank. He is doing a professional doctorate. When he asked me what I was doing I did the usual waffle. He, in return, was succinct and clear. This was the trigger to make me get on the question round about once more. I need a question. In the same meeting, Craig said that the successful thesis is marked not on how earth shattering your question is, but on how well you answer the question you pose. This was a revelation. I have spent so long thinking about ‘contribution to the research body’ that I’d not considered that it’s actually just about answering a question. How cool.

So then I got to thinking about my question. Joelle’s words rang in my ears that the question can’t suppose an outcome. This led me to:

“Has HE changed over time in Australia to have a greater focus of providing credentialed employees to business?”

Because I can’t assume that HE has changed. But then I thought, well, the research body says it has. Everyone seems to agree. Then I had a chat with someone who mentioned business models, maybe I’m looking how business models in HE have changed. Combining this with the body of research led me to:

“How have the changes in the business models of HE impacted on the purpose of HE in Australia?”

So I got to reading about business models. Then I realised it’s not really business models, it’s simply funding models. It all comes back to the dollar. This got me to:

“How has HE changed in Australian in relation to funding models over time and has this impacted on the purpose of the educational aspects of HE?”

From here I could get sub questions:

  • What is the history of the funding models for HE in Australia?
  • How have they changed over time?
  • Why have they changed?
  • Has this influenced the purpose of the educational aspects of HE?
  • Does the funding model influence the purpose or does the purpose influence the funding?

It’s this last question that I think is the key. University education used to be a private good in Australia. Then it became a public good. Now we are returning to private. But unlike the days of old private funding, we are still demanding HE on a massive, if not universal scale. It’s not just a bunch of rich kids going to school. Is it possible to have a private model with mass education? Hmmm…..finally I think I’m onto something. Although I do believe I’ve said that before.

On a different note, I’d like to thank Bruce for continually inspiring me to do something with my research. The dropping off of books, the posts on FB, the chats we have. All these are making me progress, albeit very slowly.

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