The Practical Work of Scholarship in Australian Technical and Further Education Institutions
Keywords:scholarship, vocational education and training, academic practice, higher education, TAFE
A recent trend in Australian education is the diversification of programme delivery outside institutions’ traditional sector of education, including delivery of bachelor degrees by some public vocational education and training institutions (known in Australia as technical and further education, or TAFE, institutes). The delivery of higher education programmes in non-traditional providers, such as TAFE institutes, has created significant challenges for teachers working in these settings. They work within a vocational education and training (VET) culture but confront the regulatory frameworks demanded of higher education providers. Scholarship is a particularly problematic issue because it has not been an expectation in VET providers but is a key feature in higher education. This article examines the emerging nature of scholarship in a TAFE institute offering higher education programmes. We report on an analysis of regulatory and quality assurance documentation, which begins to formalise the notion of ‘scholarship’ in VET. We then compare this emerging official definition with higher education TAFE teachers’ experience of scholarship using interviews. We argue that higher education teachers and their TAFE institutes are forming distinctive hybrid scholarly cultures and practices as they take on external expectations and navigate through existing orientations to industry, educational commitments to teaching and the absence of scholarly structures and values in TAFE.
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