Community colleges in Australia

  • Gaye Hart

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    The North American community college model has received increasing and significant attention in Australia in recent years, particularly since the visit to Australia by Professor John Dennison in 1974. The community college concept has come to be seen as having much to offer for Australian education. Professor Dennison suggested that a network of community colleges be established throughout Australia and his influence is reflected in almost every major educational report published since his visit. The interest being given to the concept combined with attempts and proposals to develop community colleges raises a number of questions: is there a consensus of opinion in Australia about what is meant by 'community college'? why has the concept achieved such widespread popularity? how important is the educational rationale for community colleges when compared with the economic rationale? does Australia need a new type of post-secondary educational institution? The evidence suggests that the characteristics of the North American community colleges as summarised by Dennison have been readily accepted by many in Australia as educationally desirable goals. There has, however, been very little questioning or analysis of whether a new type of institution is necessary as a means of achieving these goals: there has been even less research into the practicality and feasibility of implementing an educational model conceived and developed in another country into the Australian system of post-secondary education. An examination of the relationship between education and 'the community, attempts to implement the community college model in Australia and the complex legislative and funding arrangements resulting from intricate Commonwealth/State relations in education suggest that the North American community college model cannot be developed in Australia without extreme difficulty and frustration. Reference to the provision of post-secondary education in this country indicates that with the exception of some non-metropolitan areas, opportunity already exists to meet the educational needs of individuals and communities. In non-metropolitan areas, unable to support each of the three existing types of post-secondary educational institutions educational needs are not well met and there is a need to consider the establishment of multipurpose, multi-level educational facilities in these areas. Should such an institution be established it is unlikely that it could or would replicate a North American community college. It is concluded that whilst current questioning of the quality and quantity of post-secondary suggests that there may be a need to restructure or rationalise the system any proposal for implementing the North American community college system can only be based on an inadequate knowledge of the Australian system of post-secondary education and/or an inadequate knowledge of the history, purpose and organisation of community colleges.
    Date of Award1977
    Original languageEnglish

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