As the UK higher education sector debates the impact of fee hikes on student access, in Australia the countdown to the uncapping of the number of domestic student places has begun. But what this will mean for the country’s universities is not yet clear.

Peter Rathjen, the newly appointed vice-chancellor at the University of Tasmania, who is a stem cell scientist, thinks the change will require a wholesale rethinking of the kind of education that universities have traditionally offered. In particular, he suggests that the idea that bachelors degrees are something universities should deliver to everyone will not survive. Instead, he argues that a more varied and less-prepared student body will require different delivery methods, including greater use of information technology combined with intensive blocks of face-to-face learning.

“I’m not convinced that 40% of students are necessarily going to benefit from an education that was [originally designed] for a very small number of people. There might be a different kind of education they might benefit from,” he says.

Rathjen may not realise it, but in making these arguments he sounds much like those British educators who, at the end of the first world war, tried to grapple with the implications of mass enfranchisement … read the rest of this post at