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In praise of credentialism

TJ Ryan Foundation Board member, John Quiggin, writes in Inside Story (27.2.17) about how critics of extended formal education misunderstand the demands of the modern workplace.

'"Credentialism” was listed in the OED as a new word as recently as 2013, but the term has been in widespread, invariably pejorative use in academic and policy circles at least since the 1980s. Although it is commonly associated with Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society, published in 1970, the underlying debates go back to the beginnings of mass education in the second half of the nineteenth century.

'The term “credentialism” is used in many different ways, some of them contradictory, but the implication is consistent: too many young people are getting too much formal education, at too high a level. This implication was spelt out recently by Dean Ashenden, who contends that “education has not just grown to meet the expanding needs of the post-industrial economy, but has exploded like an airbag.”

'The claim that young people are getting too much education, and the supporting critique of credentialism, is pernicious and false. To explain this, it is necessary to disentangle a range of concepts commonly associated with the term credentialism in public debate.'

Universities must stand up for facts and the truth

Western Sydney University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Barney Glover, argues that our need for unbiased, well-researched information has never been greater.

'We live in challenging times. Ours is an era in which evidence, intellectual inquiry and expertise are under sustained attack.

'The phrases “post truth” and “alternative facts” have slipped into common use. Agendas have displaced analysis in much of our public debate. And we are all the poorer for it.'


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