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See more popular or the latest prezis. Download Cancel. Width: pixels Height: pixels. Constrain to simple back and forward steps. Copy code to clipboard. Send email. Send to group. Start presenting Close. Get started. Log in. Houston, we have a problem! At the same time, students, their parents as well as teachers, whose roles should have been essential, are displaced into some kind of token participants.

Since schools are social institutions that operate and constantly interact with the rest of economy they have to become accountable in the way that ordinary business are, at least when it comes to basic knowledge delivery. Hess insists that all schools across the US should be able to deliver high quality basic knowledge and literacy. Such knowledge can be easily standardised and a national curriculum, equal and identical to all US school can be designed. By this, all schools are able to deliver high quality basic knowledge and all pupils, irrespective of their social background, would be able to receive it.

Then, each school, teacher and pupil are held accountable for their performance and failure to meet the national standards should result in schools closed down, teachers laid off and pupils change school environment or even lose their chance to graduate. Hess distinguishes between two types of reformers; the status quo reformers who do not challenge the state control education and the common-sense reformers who are in favour of a non-bureaucratic educational system, governed by market competition, subjected to accountability measures similar to those used in the ordinary business world.

While Hess presents evidence that the problem in higher education is not underfunding but efficiency in spending, the argument he makes that schools can only reformed and flourish through the laws of market competition is not adequately backed up as there are plenty of examples in many industrial sectors, where the actual implementation of market competition instead of opening up opportunities for the more disadvantaged, has finally generated huge multinationals corporations, which operate in a rather monopolistic or at best oligopolistic environment, satisfying their own interests on the expense of the most deprived and disadvantaged members of the society.

Hess indeed believes that the US educational system apart from preparing students for the labour market has a social role to fulfil. Creating rigorous standards for basic knowledge in all US schools is a goal that is sound and rather achievable. However, when such goals are based on a Darwinian like competition and coercion where only the fittest can survive they become rather inapplicable for satisfying the needs of human development, equity and sustainable social progress.

The Micro system involves activities and roles that are experienced through interpersonal relationships such as the family, schools, religious or social institutions or any interactions with peers. The meso system includes the relationships developed between the various microsystem components, such as the relationship between school and workplace or family and schools.

The exosystem comprises various interactions between systems that the person who is in the process of development does not directly participates but influence the way microsystems function and impact on the person. Some examples of exosystems are the relationships between family and peers of the developing person, family and schools, etc. The macrosystem incorporates all these things that can be considered as cultural environment and social context in which the developing person lives.

Finally, the chronosystem introduces a time dimension, which encompasses all other sub-systems, subjecting them to the changes occurred through time. All these systems constantly interact, shaping a dynamic, complex but also natural ecological environment, in which a person develops its understanding of the world. Finally, Bronfenbrenner is also an advocate that poverty and social inequalities are developed not because of differences in individual characteristics and capabilities but because of institutional constraints that are insurmountable to those from a lower socio-economic background.

Freire , criticizes the way schooling is delivered in contemporary societies. This approach sees the knowledge acquired within the institutional premises of formal education as an absolute truth, where reality is perceived as something static aiming to preserve the status quo in education and in turn in society and satisfy the interests of the elite. This actual power play means that those who hold knowledge and accept its acquiring procedure as static, become the oppressors whereas those who either lack knowledge or even hold it but challenge it in order to transform it, the oppressed.

From the one side the oppressors achieve to maintain their dominance over the oppressed and on the other side the oppressed accept their inferior role as an unchallenged normality where their destiny is predetermined and can never be transformed. Therefore, through this distinction of social roles, social inequalities are maintained and even intensified through time.

What we actually know today cannot determine our future social roles, neither can prohibit individuals from challenging and transforming it into something new Freire, ; Giroux, ; Darder, The banking education approach resembles very much the ethos of the human capital theory, where individuals utilise educational attainment as an investment instrument for succeeding higher wages in the future and also climb the levels of social hierarchy.

The assumption of linearity between past individual actions and future economic and social outcomes is at the core of banking education and thus human capital theory. However, this assumption introduces a serious logical fallacy that surprisingly policy makers seem to value very little nowadays, at least in the Western societies.

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This is the process of problem-posing education , which aligns its meaning with the intrinsic view of education that regards human development as mainly detached from the acquisition of material objects and accumulation of wealth through increased levels of educational attainment. Originated in Germany, the term Bildung β€”at least as this was interpreted from 18 th century onwards, after Middle Ages era where everything was explained in the prism of a strict and theocratic society- shaped the philosophy by which the German educational system has been functioning even until nowadays Waters, Bildung aims to provide the individual education with the appropriate context, through which can reach high levels of professional development as well as citizenship.

It is a term strongly associated with the liberation of mind from superstition and social stereotypes. Education is assumed to have philosophical underpinnings but it needs, as philosophy itself as a whole does too, to be of some practical use and therefore some context needs to be provided Footnote 3 Herder, For Goethe Bildung , is a self-realisation process that the individual undertakes under a specific context, which aims to inculcate altruism where individual actions are consider benevolent only if they are able to serve the general society.

Although Bildung tradition, from the one hand, assumes that educational process should be contextualised, it approach context as something fluid that is constantly changing. Therefore, it sees education as an interactive and dynamic process, where roles are predetermined; however at the same time they are also amenable to constant transformation Hegel, Consequently, this means that Bildung tradition is more closely to what Freire calls problem-posing education and therefore to the intrinsic notion of education. Weber , looked on the Bildung tradition as a means to educate scientists to be involved in policy making and overcome the problems of ineffective bureaucracy.

Waters based on his experiences with teaching in German higher education argue that the Bildung tradition is still apparent today in the educational system in Germany. However, higher education, as an institution, involves students, teachers, administrators, policy makers, workers, businessmen, marketers and generally, individuals with various social roles, different demographic characteristics and even different socio-economic backgrounds.

It comes natural that their interests can be conflicting and thus, they perceive the purpose of higher education differently.

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Higher education enrolment rates have been continuously rising for the last 30 years. In Europe, and especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, policies are directed towards widening the access to higher education to a broader population Bowl, However, it is very difficult for policy-makers to design a framework towards openness in higher education, mainly due to the heterogeneity of the population the policies are targeted upon. Such population includes individuals from various socio-economic, demographic, ethnic, innate ability, talent orientation or disability groups, as well as people with very different social commitments and therefore the vested interests of each group contradict each other, rendering policy-making an extremely complicated task CFE and Edge Hill University, As Williams : 18 notes in one of this essays:.

Chang et al. In most cases, students hold a more pragmatic and instrumental understanding towards the purpose of higher education, primarily aiming for a better-paid and high quality jobs. Arum and Roksa claim that students during their studies in higher education make no real progress in critical thinking and complex problem-solving.

These findings question the validity of the instrumental view in higher education as it seems that those that are intrinsically motivated to attend higher education, end up performing much better in higher education and also later on in the labour market. Therefore, in practice, the theoretical rivalry between the intrinsic and instrumental approach operate in a rather dialectic manner, where interactions between social actors move towards a convergence, despite the focus given by policy makers on the instrumental view.

Bourdieu , , , based on his radical democratic politics, argued that education inequalities are just a transformation of social inequalities and a way of reproduction of social status quo. Aronowitz acknowledged that the main function of public education in the US is to prepare students to meet the changes, occurred in contemporary workplaces. Even if this instrumental model involves the broad expansion of educational attainment, it also fails to alleviate class-based inequalities.

More recently, similar findings from various countries are very common in the literature Chapman et al. Gouthro argues that there has been a misrepresentation of the basic notions that characterise the purpose of education, such as critical thinking, justice and equity. Finally, they call for a radical structural reform on educational systems worldwide, where the relationship between various social communities and the state is based on social justice and not on power.

Brown and Lauder investigated the impact of the fundamental changes on education, as related to the influence that various socio-economic and cultural factors have on policy making. Remaining sceptical against the empirical validity of human capital theory, they conclude that it cannot be guaranteed that graduates will secure employment and higher wages. Increasing incidences of over-education, due to an ever-increasing supply of graduates compared to the relatively modest growth rates of high-skilled jobs, have also been observed.

More recently, Mettler argues that the focus on corporate interests in policy making in the US has transformed higher education into a caste system that reproduces and also intensifies social inequalities. Livingstone and Stowe , based on the General Social Survey GSS , conducted an empirical study on the school completion rates partitioning individuals into family and class origin, residential area as well as race and gender.

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They focused on the relatively low completion rates of low-class individuals, from the inner city and rural areas of the US. Their findings reveal that working-class children are being discriminated on their school completion rates, compared with the mid- and high-class children. Race and gender discrimination has been detected in rural areas but not in inner cities and suburb areas, where the completion rates are more balanced.

Stone , finally sees things from a very different perspective, where inequalities exist mainly because of simply bad luck. He argues in favour of lots, when a university has to decide whether to accept an applicant or not. Even if, an argument like this seems highly controversial, it consists of something that has been implemented in many countries, several times in the past Hyland, Yet, human society cannot solely depend on lotteries and computer random algorithms, but sometimes, up to a certain point and in the name of fairness and transparency, there is a strong case for also looking on the merits for using one Stone, Furthermore, Lowe argued that the widening of higher education participation can create a hyper-inflation of credentials, causing their serious devaluation in the labour market.

This relates to the concept of diploma disease, where labour markets create a false impression that a higher degree is a prerequisite for a job and therefore, induce individuals to undertake them only for the sake of getting a job Dore, ; Collins, This situation can create a highly competitive credential market, and even if there are indications of higher education expansion, individuals from lower social class do not have equal opportunities to get a degree, which can lead them to a more prestigious occupational category.

This is, in turn, very similar to the Weberian theory of educational credentialism, where credentials determine social stratum Brown, ; Karabel, ; Douthat, ; Waters, The concept of credential inflation has been extensively debated from many scholars, who question the role of formal education and the usefulness of the acquisition of skills within universities Dore ; Collins, ; Walters, ; Hayes and Wynard, Evans et al. These skills are competences related to the way a complex situation could be best approached or resemble to personal traits, which can be used for handling unforeseen situations.

Higher educational attainment that leads to a specific academic degree is a dynamic procedure, but with a pre-defined end. This renders the knowledge acquired there, as obsolete. Policies, such as Bologna Declaration supports an agenda, where graduates should be further encouraged to engage with on-the-job training and life-long education programmes Coffield, Other scholars argue that institutions should have a broader role, acknowledging the benefits that higher educational attainment bring to societies as a whole by the simultaneous promotion of productivity, innovation and democratisation as well as the mitigation of social inequalities Harvey, ; Hayward and James, Boosting employability for graduates is crucial and many international organisations are working towards the establishment of a framework, which can ensure that higher education satisfies this aim Diamond et al.

Yet, this can have negative side-effects making the employability gap between high- and low-skilled even wider, since there is no any policy framework specifically designed for low-skilled non-graduates on a similar to Bologna Declaration, supranational context.

Heinze and Knill argue that convergence in higher education policy-making, as a result of the Bologna Process, depends on a combination of cultural, institutional and socio-economic national characteristics. Even if, it can be assumed that more equal countries, in terms of these characteristics, can converge much easier, it is still questionable if and how much national policy developments have been affected by the Bologna Declaration. However, the political narrative of equal opportunities in terms of higher education participation rates does not seem very convincing Brown and Hesketh, ; The Milburn Commission, It appears that a consensus has been reached in the relevant literature that there is a bias towards graduates from the higher social classes, but it has been gradually decreasing since Bekhradnia, ; Tight, Nonetheless, despite the fact that, during the last few decades, there has been an improvement in the participation rates for the most vulnerable groups, such as women and ethnic minorities, the inequality is still obvious in some occasions Greenbank and Hepworth, Machin and Van Reenen trace the causes of the under-participation in an intergenerational context, arguing that the positive relationship between parental income and participation rates is apparent even from the secondary school.

Likewise, Gorard identifies underrepresentation on the previous poor school performance, which leads to early drop-outs in the secondary education, or into poor grades, which do not allow for a place in higher education. Other researchers argue that paradoxically, educational inequality persists even nowadays, albeit the policy orientation worldwide towards the widening of higher education participation across all social classes Burke, ; Bathmaker et al. There are different aspects on the purpose of higher education, which particularly, under the context of the ongoing economic uncertainty, gain some recognition and greater respect from academics and policy-makers.

Lorenz notes that the employability agenda, which is constantly promoted within higher education institutions lately, cannot stand as a sustainable rationale in a diverse global environment. This harmonisation and standardisation of higher education creates permanent winners and losers, centralising all the gains, monetary and non-monetary, towards the most dominant countries, particularly towards Anglo-phone countries and specific industries and therefore social inequalities increase between as well as within countries.

Some scholars call this phenomenon as Englishization Coleman, ; Phillipson, Tomusk , positioned education within the general framework of the recent institutional changes and the rapid rise of the short-term profits of the financial global capital. Specifically, the author sees World Bank as a transnational organisation. Hunter places the debate under a broader political framework, juxtaposing neo-liberalism with the trends formulated by the OECD. She concludes that OECD is a very complex and multi-vocal organisation and when it comes to higher education policy suggestions, there is not any clear trend, especially towards neo-liberalism.

This does not mean that economic thinking is not dominant within the OECD. Hunter : 15β€”16 accordingly states that:. However, it is fair for OECD to be concerned with economics. They do not deny that they are primarily an organization concerned with economics. Hyslop-Margison investigated how the market economy affects higher education in Canada, when international organisations and Canadian business interfere in higher education policy making, under the support of government agencies.

He argues that such economy-oriented policies deteriorate curriculum theory and development. Letizia criticises market-oriented reforms, enacted by The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of , placing them within the context of market-driven policies informed by neoliberalism, where social institutions, such as higher education, should be governed by the law of free market.

The term Mcdonaldisation has been also used recently to capture functional similarities and trends in common, between higher education and ordinary commercial businesses. Thus, efficiency, calculability, predictability and maximisation are high priorities in the American and British educational systems and because of their global influence, these characteristics are being expanding worldwide Hayes and Wynard, ; Garland, ; Ritzer, The notion of Mcdonaldisation is very well explained by Garland , no pagination :. Realistically, higher education cannot be solely conceptualised by the human capital approach and similar quantitative interpretations, as it has cultural, psychological, idiosyncratic and social implications.

However, the market and money value of higher education should not be neglected, especially in developing countries, as there is evidence that it can help people escape the vicious cycle of poverty and therefore it has a practical and more pragmatic purpose to fulfil Psacharopoulos and Patrinos, According to World Bank , education can contribute to a significant decrease of the number of poor people globally and increase social mobility when it manages to provides greater opportunities for children coming from poor families. There are also other studies that do not only focus to strict economic factors, but also to the contribution of educational attainment to fertility and mortality rates as well as to the level of health and the creation of more responsible and participative citizens, bolstering democracy and social justice Council of Europe, ; Osler and Starkey, ; Cogan and Derricott, Mountford-Zimdars and Sabbagh , analysing the British Social Attitudes BSA survey, offer a plausible explanation on why the widening of participation in higher education is not that easy to be implemented politically, in the contemporary western democracies.

The majority of the people, who have benefited from higher educational attainment in monetary and non-monetary terms, are reluctant to support the openness of higher education to a broader population. On the contrary, those that did not succeed or never tried to secure a place in a higher education institute, are very supportive of this idea. This clash of interests creates a political perplexity, making the process of policy-making rather dubious.


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Therefore, the apparent paradox of the increase in higher educational attainment, along with a stable rate in educational inequalities, does not seem that strange when vested interests of certain groups are taken into account. Moreover, the decision for someone to undertake higher education is not solely influenced by its added value in the labour market. Since an individual is exposed to different experiences and influences, strategic decisions can easily change, especially when these are taken from adolescents or individuals in their early stages of their adulthood.

Given this, perceptions and preferences do change with ageing and this is why there are some individuals who drop out from university, others who choose radical shifts in their career or others who return to education after having worked in the labour market for many years and in different types of jobs. Higher education has expanded rapidly after WWII.

Policy aims for higher education in the western world is undoubtedly focusing on its diffusion to a broader population. This expansion is seen as a policy instrument to alleviate social and income inequalities. However, the implementation of such policies has been proved extremely difficult in practise, mainly because of existent conflicted interests between groups of people, but also because of its institutional incapacity to target the most vulnerable.

Nonetheless, it has been observed a constant marketization process in higher education, making it less accessible to people from poor economic background. Concerns on the persistence of policy-makers to focus primarily on the economic values of higher education have been increasingly expressed, as strict economic reasoning in higher education contradicts with political claims for its continuing expansion. On the other hand, there are studies arguing that the instrumental model can make the transition of graduates into the labour market smoother.

Such studies are placed under the mainstream economics framework and are also informed by policy decisions implemented by the Bologna Process, where competitiveness, harmonisation and employability are the main policy axes. The Bologna Process and various other institutions e. Nevertheless, this makes the job competition between graduates much more intense and also creates very negative implications for those that remain with low qualifications as they effectively become socially and economically marginalised.

The purpose of higher education and its role in modern societies remains a heated philosophical debate, with strong practical and policy implications. This article sheds more light to this debate by presenting a synthetic narrative of the relevant literature, which can be used as a basis for future theoretical and empirical research in understanding contemporary trends in higher education as interwoven with the evolutions in the broader socio-economic sphere. Specifically, two conflicting theoretical stances have been discussed. The mainstream view primarily aims to assist individuals to increase their income and their relative position in the labour market.

On the other hand, the intrinsic notion focus on understanding its purpose under ontological and epistemological considerations. Under this conceptual framework, the enhancement of individual creativity and emancipation are in conflict with the contemporary institutional settings related to power, dominance and economic reasoning. However, even if the two theoretical stances presented are regarded as contradictory, this article argues that, in practical terms, they can be better seen as complementing each other. From one hand, using an instrumental perspective, an increase in higher education participation, focusing particularly on the most vulnerable and deprived members of society, can alleviate problems of income and social inequalities.

The instrumental view of education has a very important role to play if focused on lower-income social classes, as it can become the mechanism towards the alleviation of income inequalities. On the other hand, apart from the pecuniary, there are also other non-pecuniary benefits associated with this, such as the improvement in the fertility and mortality and general health level rates or the boost of active democracy and citizenship even within workplaces and therefore a shift of higher education towards its intrinsic purposes is also needed.

Summing up, education is not a simply just another market process. It is not just an institution that supply graduates as products that have some predetermined value in the labour market. Consequently, acquired knowledge in education verified by college degrees is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the labour market to create appropriate jobs, where graduates utilise and expand this knowledge. In fact, the increasing costs of higher education, mostly due to its internationalisation, and the rising levels of job mismatch create a rather gloomy picture of the current economic environment, which seems to preserve the well-paid jobs mostly to those from a certain socio-economic class background.

As Castoriadis notes, it is impossible to separate education from its social context. We, as human beings, acquire knowledge, in the sense of what Castoriadis calls paideia , from the day we born until the day we die. We are being constantly developed and transformed along with the social transformations that happen around us. The transformation on the individual is in constant interaction with social transformations, where no cause and effect exists.

Formal schooling has become nowadays an apathetic task where no real engagement with learning happens, while its major components such as educators, families and students are largely disconnected with each other. In the context of a modern world where monetary costs and benefits are the basis of policy arguments, a massification and broader diffusion of higher education to a much broader population implies marketisation and commercialisation of its purpose and in turn its inclusion on an economy-oriented model where knowledge, skills, curriculum and academic credentials inevitably presuppose a money-value and have a financial purpose to fulfil.

The policy trends towards an economy-based-knowledge, through a strict instrumental reasoning, rather than the alleged knowledge-based-economy seems to persist and prevail, albeit its poor performance on alleviating income and social inequalities. Data sharing not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.

For example, Confucian tradition is very rich, when it comes to education and human development. Perhaps the Chinese tradition in education, which mainly regards education as a route to social status and material success based on merit and constant examination can explain why the human capital theory is more applicable. On the other hand, additional notions in the Confucian tradition that education should be open to all, irrespective of the social class each person belongs to apart perhaps from women and servants that were rather considered as human beings with limited social rights , its focus on ethics and its purpose to prepare efficient and loyal practitioners for the government introduces an apparent paradox with human capital theory but not necessarily with the instrumental view of education.

This contradiction deserves to be appropriately and thoroughly examined in a separate analysis before it is contrasted to the Western tradition. For this reason the current research focuses only on the Western world leaving the comparison analysis with educational traditions found around the world, among them the Confucian tradition, as a task that will be conducted in the near future.

The use of capital in Bourdieu is criticised by a stream of social science scholars as rather promiscuous and unfortunate Goldthorpe, They argue that a paradox here is apparent as in English linguistic etymological terms, the word capital implies, if not presupposes market activity. Habitus is not capital, even if there is constant interaction between the two. Some might have valid ontological objections on this, in terms of the purpose of philosophy as a whole; however the concept of Bildung has given education a role within society that moves away from individualism and the constant pursuit of material objects as ultimate means of well-being.

Apple M Comparing neo-liberal projects and inequality in education. Comp Educ 37 4 β€” Aronowitz S Against schooling: Education and social class.