The Future of Education

Posted on: Thursday, 7 September 2017 at 7:13:42 PM

Unable to Withstand the Forces of Change

Article from the AICC(WA) Edith Cowan University Annual Executive Lunch hosted on Wednesday 6 September 2017,  featuring Emeritus Professor Tracey Horton AO, Non-Executive Chairman, Navitas speaking on "The Future of Education"


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From L to R - Mr John Cluer, Chief Executive, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA), Mr Roger Davies, Partner, Ashurst, Emeritus Professor Tracey Horton AO, Non-Executive Chairman, Navitas, Professor Steve Chapman, Vice Chancellor, Edith Cowan University, Ms Cheryl Robertson, State Director, Microsoft Australia and Mr Larry Lopez, Vice President, AICC(WA) and Partner, Australian Venture Consultants


With the World Economic Forum predicting more digital progress in the next ten years than has been witnessed in the last 50 years, this event posed the question "how will education prepare our next generation to discover their potential and develop their skills to stay ahead of this pace of change?"  Ms Tracey Horton's answer was that "the education sector in its current form will be unable to withstand the forces of change, and that a major transformation will be complete within a decade.  The education sector must either disrupt, or be disrupted. Education leaders recognise this threat and change is already underway."


Mr Roger Davies, Partner, Ashurst

Mr Roger Davies, Ashurst Partner and host welcomed guests, noting the need to remain agile in the face of technological change, and sharing the Ashurst culture of ongoing development and adaptability within their organisation, educating and positioning the next generation of staff to perform.

Click here for an introductory video from Jon Medved, CEO OurCrowd

Introducing Ms Tracey Horton, ECU Vice Chancellor Professor Stephen Chapman spoke of the longstanding relationship between Navatis and ECU.  He shared insights into the educational world moving towards meeting personalised student needs, noting however that traditional hours, term structures and the overall format of the classroom had experienced little change.  Where a campus is defined by geography and scaleability is limited the sector is challenged.  However technology has already impacted and will continue to impact the sector, and can be positively channeled.

Emeritus Professor Tracey Horton AO, Non-Executive Chairman, Navitas

Ms Horton opened her speech by emphasising that education is changing and disruption is inevitable.  She proceeded to provide examples in the following areas

Generational Shifts

Traditionally education was extended as a privilege, and represented an aspirational pathway to a career.  Today it is more accessible, and adapting to a generation shift.  Universities are broadening from keepers and distributors of knowledge to deliver global and more diverse access to particular disciplines.

"Education today is more about the journey and less about the destination.  Learning occurs for the sake of learning and the end outcome is more entrepreneurial."

The Nature of Work is changing

In the "gig" economy, everyone is an entrepreneur.  More jobs are of a contracting nature, there are new types of technical knowledge, and automation is removing many tasks from the workforce.  Skills that relate to the digital age, both softskills and technical skills are in demand by employers.

The Impact of Technology

Automation will impact 40% of jobs and drive a need for reskilling and upskilling.  Referring to "the fourth industrial revolution".  Ms Horton shared some edutech examples from Navitas that delivered an enhanced student value chain and new pathways into employment and internship.

Funding Under Pressure

Ms Horton noted that with constrained fiscal capacity within Government, growth in funding will come from non-Government services including students, industry, and philanthropy.  With more digital channels and third party products this trend is already evident. Economic analysis shows that this shift is moving slower in the education sector than it is in the corporate sector, due primarily to the shared governance and collaborative leadership structures in the education sector, and a lower rate of staff turnover.

Bringing Together Industry and Education

Corporations today invest 16 times more into the global health sector than they do into the global education sector.  However there is a strong opportunity to bolster the economic opportunity represented by education.  Ms Horton evidenced this by demonstrating;

  • Education is currently a $21 billion export for Australia and our number one service export. 
  • There are 554,000 international students study here
  • International education employs 130,000 people
  • WA education export income was $1.5 million in 2016
  • WA achieves 7% of Australia's export revenue but has 11% of its population
  • Education adds $140 billion to GDP to Australia's productive capacity

Ms Horton concluded her address by emphasising the need to enhance the role of education as a more dynamic part of the Australian economy. "Tweaking the existing model is unlikely to do enough" she said, as she also looked further towards the personalisation of education as part of the essential equation.  "We need to equip life long learners for the 21st century lifestyle, and to re-skill and up-skill students to have more interesting and higher value experiences."

Ms Cheryl Robertson, State Director, Microsoft Australia and Emeritus Professor Tracey Horton AO, Non-Executive Chairman, Navitas


In proposing a vote of thanks, Ms Cheryl Robertson, State Director, Microsoft, related lifelong learning and change to everything that Microsoft touches, and also reaffirmed that the education revolution and the technology revolution are integrally connected. The event closed with this Microsoft DVD.


Professor Steve Chapman, Vice Chancellor, Edith Cowan University

About Tracey Horton AO

Ms Horton is the Chairman for Navitas Limited and Chairman and Non-Executive Director of various ASX companies, Government bodies and not-for-profit organisations.

She has extensive international business and education experience, with her most recent executive role as Dean of The University of Western Australian Business School, where she was awarded the life-time title of Emeritus Professor.

Ms Horton was recognised for distinguished service to business and business education and appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2017.


Clockwise from top L - Professor Lynne Cohen, Executive Dean, Edith Cowan University, The Hon Dr Hendy Cowan, Chancellor, Edith Cowan University and Mr John Inverarity, Ms Carolyn Turner, Director of Philanthropy, Christ Church Grammar School, Mr Aiden McCarthy, Head of Digital Transformation, CEWA - Catholic Education WA, Ms Shula Lazar, Principal, Carmel School, Ms Lynda Fisher, Head of Primary, Carmel School, and Ms Rebecca Cody, Principal, Methodist Ladies College.

Clockwise from top L: Professor Mark McMahon, Associate Dean Teaching and Learning, Edith Cowan University, Mr Aiden McCarthy, Head of Digital Transformation, CEWA - Catholic Education WA, Professor Andrew Woodward, Executive Dean, School of Science, Edith Cowan University, Ms Sonia Mackay-Coghill, Executive Director (Enterprise and Development), Edith Cowan University, Mr Richard Guit, Partner, Ashurst, Dr Edward Simons, Director Governance and Administrative Services, Catholic Education Western Australia, Ms Eve Howell, Non-Executive Director, MMA Offshore Limited, and Ms Annie Fogarty, Foundation Executive Chairperson, Fogarty Foundation

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