Tuesday, 10 October 2017 - 7:58pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Tue, 10/10/2017 - 7:58pm in

Coffs Harbour is defined by the NSW Government's 2036 North Coast Regional Plan as a regional city and it does home a Southern Cross University campus.

But would you consider Coffs a university city?

I would love Coffs Harbour to become a university city. The trouble is that SCU is a vocational college that happens to have the word "university" in it's brand name. Last year the incoming Vice Chancellor, who in a stunning departure from the norm for bottom-tier uni VCs is not an out-and-proud philistine, nonetheless wrote to students "I want to assure you that your employability and your future career success are top priorities for all of us."

Obviously somebody who has the ability and inclination to pursue an academic education will inevitably also be employable, but SCU does not offer an academic education. All the work a student does is assessed against predetermined "marking criteria", which refer to desired "learning outcomes", which are in turn linked to "graduate attributes", which ultimately answer to the needs of employers. It's a TAFE with airs and graces. It's three additional years of high school with a much narrower range of subjects and virtually no permanent full-time teaching staff. And under the "demand driven system" it has a commercial imperative to take all comers, and ensure as many as possible complete courses which are consequently so dumbed-down as to be meaningless.

The post-1988 expansion of alleged higher education is a scam built on the hoax of "human capital". By flogging a false promise of employability instead of contributing to the intellectual life of its host community, SCU Coffs is merely the largest leech in the swamp in which it sits.