Education and Social Policy
The following paper focuses on the social policies and the theoretical paradigms. Social policies are very important in deciding the various ways in which a nation’s government should run. As education is the central focus in this paper, the most important thing to be centered on is the various policies in Australia regarding education. The various things like the HELP and legal frameworks that are related with education policies will be discussed here along with the policy cycle of the HELP policy. The main topic of discussion in this essay is about the education policies in Australia. The Australian government is influenced by the liberalism. They have introduced various policies in this context. These policies will help to direct the education in the right way. The various policies by the government will be discussed in the essay so that the initiatives taken by the government can be understood. The adopting of proper social policies always results in the affirmative and it is the responsibility of the government to adopt the proper policies to ensure the best outcome in that context. These ways will help the government to form a welfare state.
There is a big problem in the Australian society about the education system. The education system is facing the challenge of educational disadvantage and the Australian government is much worried about it. It has not improved over the past decade or more (Guenther, Bat & Osborne, 2013). Education as a social policy is one of the chief responsibilities of the government. One important scheme that is very significant in this prospect is the Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS). This scheme has helped the students in many ways. By the application of this scheme, the government has offered subsidies in the tuition fees for the students at different levels. It has begun since the year 2012 when the universities run by government were able to enroll the students in Bachelor courses. Many domestic students were included under this scheme. These chosen students would be provided funding by the government in ‘Commonwealth supported places’ (CSPs) (Andrewartha & Harvey, 2014). This initiative by the government has been called as ‘demand driven funding system’.
In some circumstances, Australia can really be considered as a ‘welfare state’ because one of the most generous student loan programs takes place in Australia. The program is called the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) (Škrinjari?, 2014). Australian government has taken many important steps in managing the tuition fees for the students. The loan schemes that have been introduced in Australia are generally much generous than the other countries in terms of higher education. The Australian Higher Education Loan Program helps the students borrow their tertiary education fees from HELP and then they can repay that money on an income-contingent basis. The government has identified the problems of educational disadvantage the students in the remote areas or the students coming from the other countries are facing in terms of financial side, relationships with the teachers and other students. So, they have decided to provide loans to the students so that no one can be deprived of educational opportunities.
Social Policy and Political Ideology
Social norms and values are very important in shaping up the social policies that may be appropriate for the concerned society (Kinzig et al., 2013). The issue of the political ideologies are deeply engraved in the social values whether the society and the government follows the Marxism, liberalism, neo-liberalism, structuralism, post-structuralism or whatever it is.
Education is the social policy that has to be looked at with special focus and all the relevant theoretical paradigms have to be discussed regarding to that (Geoffrey, 2014). The education policy of Australia has to be discussed in this context to have a thorough view on the subject (Kaiser et al., 2014). The Australian liberal government has been dealing with the education policies very strictly and the different education policies that have been developed are due to the various legislations of the government. They have developed various policies that include factors like the School management, Human resources, corporate management process in schools, safety and welfare of the students and finance and administration in the schools (Kaiser et al., 2014). The attendance and behavior of the students has to be recorded for general evaluation of the students. The gifted and talented students have to be supported and nurtured by the government for the best possible outcomes in the future. The students with disabilities have to be treated with proper care within the educational institution premises. In the second part, the human resources department of the school management division has to manage the problems that are created within the measures of the employees. The employees have to be well conducted and any complaints due to their behavior have to strictly taken care of. All the necessary things like leaves for the employees, new employee selection and recruitment, appointment and their transfer all have to be properly dealt with by going through the policies made by the government. All the students have to be looked after well so that they can yield best results in their studies (Kaiser et al., 2014). No amount of discrimination will be tolerated during their caste, creed or skin color. Racism against the school or college students is strictly prohibited. The health of all the students has to be looked after in regular intervals by medical experts. According to the education policies by the liberal government in Australia, the school safety and security also has to be checked so that both the students and their guardians can feel safe within the educational institution premises.
Legislative Framework’s Importance
In the context of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS), the policy has been able to enable the constant expansion of the education sector at times of budgetary constraints by means of shifting considerable portions of the cost of higher education from the Commonwealth to the students. The overall student payment through HECS back in 2002-03 was estimated to be approximately 20 per cent of the funding allotted to higher education institutions from Commonwealth programs.
In this context, some theories relating to education can be attached as well (Olson, 2015). The functionalist theory discusses about the role of education that it serves in the bigger constraints of the society (Olson, 2015). Education is seen as an element that transfers knowledge to the next generations. The core values and social control are transmitted by education. The second theory is the Individualism theory that supports the freedom, individuality and creativity of the students. It also develops the self-esteem of the students. Competition theory is the third theory related to education. The students have to be engaged in a healthy competition so that it can bring the best outcomes for the society at large. It will be beneficial for the welfare of the students as well. More talent will be nurtured by the education system (Norton & Cakitaki, 2013). The networking theory is another aspect that is associated with the matter of communicating with the students in high schools and colleges. This would increase in the potentials a lot and the outcome will be a learned society, supported by the government with a liberal political ideology (Olson, 2015). The theories can be related to the context in a way that it helps the students of the commonwealth countries to study overseas so that they can build more successful careers. This will help them to be more creative and personal freedom oriented according to the individualism theory and they will be helped by the light of higher education from the biggest universities as the functionalist theory suggests.
The legal framework is very important aspect in the social work systems. This is because the law plays a crucial part in the social work practice in different fields. There are some important legislative frameworks that have been created to secure the rights of education in all sectors of the society. It is obvious that there are many persons in the country with disabilities. So, they are targeted in the educational institutions. However, it is important to save them in the schools and colleges. This is why the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) can be very helpful. Direct Discrimination and indirect Discrimination are the two sections that are very important in this context (Harpur, 2012). DDA secures all the people from being the victims in various fields like education, employment and many aspects. No educational institution can discriminate the students with disability just because he or she is not able to take part in the process actively. Their opportunities should not be limited within the institutions. They must be granted scholarships. All the legal policies should be obeyed according to the Commonwealth government. The Fair Work Act 2009 is also important in this context because the Australian Human Rights Commission will be strictly looking at the events that are going on regarding those persons. After the completion of education, all people deserve to get proper jobs must not be deprived of getting jobs within the country. This act should secure people to get fair jobs in all over the country. There is another important legislative framework for the international students who come to study to Australia from other countries. The Education Services for Overseas Students Act 200 or the ESOS Act is the one that helps to enhance the reputation Australia has for quality education (Walters, 2012). The National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2017 (National Code) is one act that helps to set consistent standards to deliver best courses to the overseas students. The Tuition Protection Service (TPS) is a service that ensures the international students with proper placement and refunds (Walters, 2013). Within the operating approach of HECS, the Higher Education Funding Act 1988 is the legislative basis. The Act even provides grants of monetary aid to the higher education institutions. Under the section 38, these kind of monetary aid is approved on the condition that the institutions would be complying with the needs of the HECS. Within the act, the first chapter describes the terms and lists the higher education institutions that require funding through the Act. The second chapter sets out the funding levels and state of affairs attached to grants for these institutions. This section is revised annually for adjusting the level of grants for cost supplementation and for adding every new year to the rolling triennium. Chapters 4 and 5 offer the statutory base for the HECS and the Open Learning Deferred Payment Scheme (OLDPS), while chapter 5A addresses the repayment of loans drawn under fourth and fifth chapter. The HECS annual course contribution and the repayment inceptions are subject to annual indexation, in accordance with formula described in the sections 40 and 106Q correspondingly. This implies that annual revisions are not necessary for adjusting the contribution and threshold amounts.
There has been much discrepancy about the HELP loan policy in Australia. It has led to such huge profit that the government is thinking about this loan policy to design it newly. Thogh this has called up much profit, the quality of education has fallen as the private education providers are suggesting. More than a million students were helped by more than 200 training providers through this loan policy so that it has incurred a huge success. The pricing discrepancy has reached a higher position because the private colleges have the freedom to fix their own fees. This has resulted in handling them a free cheque from the Australian taxpayer. The University of Sydney has suggested that the largest RTOs in Australia running in huge profit in more than 50% of these loans. The Education Support Act 2003 suggests that the government is not liable to regulate the tuition fees but a VET provider cannot charge different amounts for different courses if the students pay through the HELP loan system
The policy cycle has to be discussed in this context because it is very essential to talk about policy cycle when a particular policy has been discussed. There are seven stages of the policy cycle and these are awareness raising, problem definition, identification of options, policy selection, implementation and evaluation.
The students from other countries will be gathering information from the websites of the universities and they can identify the opportunities they have in those places.
After identifying the central matters of the policy, the students can try to identify the potential problems that they might face relating to the policy.
They may search for other options other than HELP loan policy if anything else is available in the country.
Next, the students have to choose from the HELP policy what the best option for them is. This depends on the kinds of courses they want to undertake. They will get the proper assistance from the government.
Then the students from abroad will implement the policies or rather apply for the policies in this case. Then they can start to go through their desired course.
Finally, the students will evaluate the policies how beneficial it has been for them. This will help to measure the success and failure of the HELP loan policy. The students can recommend about this policy to others through variant mediums.
After the establishment of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS), it has undergone many significant major and minor changes. After these changes, HECS ceased to exist and the new financial system that came to exist was Higher Education Loans Program (HECS-HELP) (Doyle, 2013). It has been largely criticized in this context that this HECS system had a great impact in the entrance of the students in the university. It has also been argued that this system had large implications in the fertility rate of Australia’s rate of fertility. The 2003 Federal Budget thus had made a huge impact in the entire education system of Australia.
It is very clear that the impact of this HECS-HELP system was not equal and neutral in the socio economic sphere of the country (Doyle, 2013). This system was designed to assist the students who belonged to the backward socio-economic class. The picture was completely different as the students from high economic and social classes got admitted in the universities by paying their HECS fees. After this system was put into practice, the income threshold level had increased between 1989 and 1996. A major change that took place in this context was that the students had to pay their HECS debt (Doyle, 2013). Another scheme was introduced in the year 2005 named FEE-HELP (Noonan, 2016). According to this scheme, the students who were able to pay their full fees to universities were allowed to borrow an amount of $50,000 from the government. As a result of this system, the socio economic inequalities did not end but it increased more as the condition of the low socio economic class students remained unchanged.
This paper can be concluded by saying that education is one of the most important social policies and it has been treated with utmost importance in the liberal country like Australia. All the policies that are followed in the country are very realistic and designed for the welfare of the students. This will lead to the betterment of the society in future. Government should try to provide better policies and better legal frameworks regarding the education policies of the country so the needed information have been supplied that will help to assess the situation regarding the colleges and universities. The legal steps that can be taken have also been discussed properly as well. Better education will provide better future for all the students and this in turn is beneficial for the welfare of the whole country. More job opportunities will be available and the economic conditions of the country like Australia will improve rapidly. These changes may take place if better education is provided to the children in the society with better education policies. Eventually, this will turn the country into a welfare state.
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