The Toowoomba Accord
A blueprint for collaborative external studiesJames H. Polhemus
In 1985, vice-chancellors of the five major distance teaching universities in Australia signed what came to be known as the Toowoomba External Studies Accord. The Accord established a 'consortium for university external studies', with the following objectives:
|1 To facilitate student access to inter-university enrolment in individual external subjects and course units.|
|2 To explore possibilities for the development of shared combinations of subjects and course units.|
|3 To suggest ways of filling gaps and avoiding unnecessary duplication in the provision of university external studies programmes.|
|4 To encourage the development and use of shared support facilities for external students.|
The Toowoomba Accord functioned between 1986 and 1990, achieving limited success in realizing its first objective and failing to make appreciable progress towards the other three; it limped into 1991, and by 1992 it was moribund. This chapter gives a brief account of the history and operation of the Accord, pointing to, accounting for, and drawing lessons from its failures and its successes (see also Polhemus et al. 1991).
ORIGINS OF THE ACCORD
External studies at the university level in Australia date back to 1913, but it was in the 1970s, spurred by the example of the British Open University and what 'threatened to become a scramble for students'
1 in the face of declining traditional enrolments and funding cuts, that distance education became a growth industry for Australian universities and colleges of advanced education.