Imagine a future where universities were the driver of an integrated education system, connecting the dots across the breadth of the knowledge creation chain to produce dynamic innovation.
Given the scale of change anticipated to effect Australia’s economy and society, we must at least contemplate major reforms in education and training that will equip ourselves for a different future. New technologies, shifts in the global order power, and longer (working) lives are some of these changes – significantly influencing the ecosystem for sharing knowledge and imparting skills.
Imagine then that Australia has embraced the concept of a flexible, adaptable tertiary education and training system, giving us the best chance of thriving in a continuously, and at times rapidly, evolving world.
In this environment, universities could take a leadership role catalysing a more joined up system – facilitating an open dialogue between industry, government, vocational education and training providers, and higher education, to drive stronger connectivity and ultimately, more impact and advancements for the communities that they serve. There are already many sectors where this kind of response is needed now, including in our health care and defence industries.
Imagine if Australia were audacious enough to transition away from an unstable, fragmented and competitive education system, which holds us back from our potential, to one which prioritised the provision of the blended knowledge and learning typologies we know will be crucial for the future. Imagine if Australia developed a new set of conditions whereby education providers could innovate more simply, more effectively, and increasingly, more collaboratively and based on what is needed by the system as a whole.
This involves embracing a new mindset; one that moves beyond tweaking at the edges, and is not operating in reactive crisis mode, but with the necessary strategies and resources to create and sustain positive change. Change that ensures Australia strengthens our competitive advantage, and our education system delivers on its responsibilities to society and the community.
Dr Ixchel Brennan is Manager in KPMG’s Policy, Programs & Evaluation team within the Management Consulting Practice. Ixchel has managed numerous engagements across the education sector, including with state and federal governments, higher education, and the vocational education and training sector. Ixchel joined KPMG with a particular focus on delivering to the education sector, and has extensive experience in academic and professional management roles within universities over a fifteen (15) year period. Ixchel is a skilled leader, and plays a key role in project management, including the provision of high level advice and recommendations to inform decision making, stakeholder engagement, and complex program and risk management.
Prior to joining KPMG, Ixchel was Program Manager of the South Australian State Government funded Future Industries Accelerator (FIA) at the University of South Australia.
Ixchel holds a PhD in Medicine and Bachelor of Science (Honours), and is currently undertaking an MBA.