Research, small classes are the future

University of Adelaide vice-chancellor Warren Bebbington has spent 25 years watching class sizes get bigger and Australian universities move further away from their founding ideals.

skynews 824052He hopes a newly launched 10-year strategic plan can reverse this trend for the research-intensive Group of Eight member.

‘The Humboldt model of the research university, on which all Australian traditional universities were based, it is the ideal of the 19th century,’ he tells AAP.

‘That’s what we lost in the last 25 years. The way forward is the way back.’

The university doubled in size over the past 10 years but Bebbington says he doesn’t want to see it double again in the next decade.

The Beacon of Enlightenment plan for Adelaide University involves returning research to undergraduate degrees, pushing lectures online to free up academics’ time and smaller classes.

Bebbington says the ‘small-group discovery’ model is what students are saying they want anyway.

There will be a focus on research skills for all undergraduate students, with each doing an individual research project in their final year.

Each faculty will also offer an advanced bachelor degree for high-scoring students to work on a research program right from their first days at university.

Every student will have to do graduate work experience, study abroad or host an international student.

The tricky part will be to make all these changes without needing more money but Bebbington thinks it is possible.

He expects students enrolling at Adelaide from 2014 to get the full benefit of the changes.

‘We’re denying students the kind of very, very special experience that we all remember,’ Bebbington says.

‘It’s time to bring it back.’

Source: Sky News Australia

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