Federal involvement in higher education is examined from its development during the Second World War until the application of Government guidelines in 1976.
Writers on higher education, both in Australia and abroad, have tended to examine the content of policy, focussing on the end products and their institutional implications.
The present work suggests that policy analysis of higher education is worth undertaking as a study of process, as well as of content. American and British policy analysts have recently moved from traditional institutional evaluation to policy process studies; the present work also pursues this approach.
The work seeks to indicate the formation and interactive nature of policy inputs and characteristic modes through which interactive processes result in decisional outputs. The methodology adopted has been to study Commonwealth Parliamentary debates, reports of committees of inquiry and statutory commissions, books, and journal and news articles. Findings have been interpreted in the light of readings in the public policy area.
The aim has been to isolate those items which have had a significant policy input. However, given that the work is in the form of a longitudinal process study, a chronology of events is also followed. Longitudinal study has permitted multiple observances of policy over time. Perhaps this above all else provides an opportunity to illuminate the “black box” of policy long enough to appreciate ongoing processes.
The first part of the thesis (chapters 1 - 3) is devoted to an examination of higher education in systemic terms for the period 1942-65. The second part (chapters 4- 6), assuming an on-going policy delivery system, is devoted to an examination of some higher education issue areas in closer detail and examines some directional paths for future policy.