At the heart of the community: revitalising regions through higher education
The pathways to socioeconomic improvement in a post-industrial age are difficult to predict. We can be confident, though, that solutions to economic advancement, social mobility and wealth distribution will be founded on two key assets: innovation – new knowledge and new ways of using knowledge, and human capital – people able to use knowledge in creative ways.
In our societies, it is uniquely universities that bring these together in meaningful fashion, through a mission that integrates research and education. As such, universities are presented with an opportunity for deeper participation in the affairs of the community and increased relevance predicated on partnership.
The University of Tasmania is the only university in a state that is confounded by high levels of underemployment and regionality, poor social mobility and an economic environment that supports an average wage some 20 per cent below the mainland average. Underlying this is an historically poor level of engagement and attainment across the education system: only 14 per cent of males in regional Tasmania are reported to complete school.
What, in such circumstances, might be the University's role be to help the state address these challenges?