High-quality, small-group learning says Uni of Adelaide Plan

The University of Adelaide

The University of Adelaide
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Monday, 3 December 2012

A fundamental paradigm shift towards smaller classes, and delivering a premium student experience, will be the future for the University of Adelaide.

The bold new direction is outlined in the University of Adelaide's new 10-year Strategic Plan: Beacon of Enlightenment launched today.

The University of Adelaide will "commit to transformation rather than growth," says Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Warren Bebbington, and pointing to the alternative drift towards massive enrolments and 'dumbed-down' content over the past 20 years in Australian and UK universities and the subsequent risk to quality higher education.

"The ideal of the modern university, the union of teaching and research has been lost," says Professor Bebbington. "The highlight was individual discovery, but research is now almost absent from undergraduate courses."

Under the Plan, from 2013 every University of Adelaide course will move towards "small-group discovery," in which all students will gain skills of analysis, criticism, expert search and written communications essential to independent enquiry.

For the highest-achieving students, every Faculty will offer an Advanced Bachelor program, featuring independent research work from the start.

The University of Adelaide will also treble expenditure on digital and online learning support, which it says all students now expect. "Where content can be delivered online with pedagogic integrity, it will be," says Professor Bebbington. But face-to-face classes, especially in small groups, will increase.

"Adelaide will remain a campus university, for the scholarship of discovery involves personalised learning which happen best face-to-face."

There will also be a massive increase in work experience and in study abroad, with all students expected to take at least one of these. Travel grants will be introduced to help with the costs of going abroad, to "prepare students for global citizenship in a near border less world", he says.

"We have had four months of consultation inside and outside the university," says Professor Bebbington. "There is a groundswell of support for having at least one Group of Eight university abandon endless growth and return to the teaching/research ideal of the modern university."

Read the plan


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