Academia is petitioning the Government to fund the body which drives university teaching and learning quality
Apr 27, 2016 | News | by The Learning Press staff
Plans to scrap the Office for Learning and Teaching has prompted an impassioned begging letter from 100 senior academics ahead of next week’s budget.
The letter to federal education minister Simon Birmingham from the Australian Learning and Teaching Fellows calls for the OLT to be retained, or a replacement body to be established when it closes on 30 June.
The Office of Learning and Teaching was designed as an independent policy-making body to enhance excellence in higher education through the input of its fellowship of nominated experts.
While it was less well-resourced than its predecessor (scrapped by Julia Gillard to fund Queensland’s flood disaster), academics fear the sector will be damaged by the lack of a body setting an overarching vision and strategy to drive excellence in tertiary teaching and learning.
A review of the OLT commissioned in 2015 recommended replacing it with a new National Institute for Learning and Teaching, but Senator Birmingham has remained silent on the plan as he contemplates a raft of cost-cutting measures within the sector.
In the 100-signatory letter to the minister, Australian Learning and Teaching Fellows president Sally Kift says: “Since the first Fellowships were awarded in 2006, the Fellows have engaged in strategic, high profile research that has demonstrably advanced learning and teaching policy and practice in Australian higher education.
“The sector-wide change they have led has benefitted hundreds of thousands of students and enhanced Australia’s Higher Education quality and international reputation.
“At a time when the government is pouring $1.1 billion into research and research infrastructure to support its innovation agenda, it seems inconceivable to suggest that not even $1 will be invested in the teaching and upskilling of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs coming through our universities.
“The money put into OLT and its predecessor agencies to date has been exceedingly modest, but has nevertheless seen massive returns on investment and.”
An online petition calling on the Government to save or replace the OLT has reached 1800 signatories.