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The recent Review of Australian Higher Education (the Bradley Review) has recommended the formation of a tertiary education sector to formalise the increasingly blurred higher and vocational education boundaries. The growth in delivery of higher education programs by TAFE institutes is contributing to these blurred boundaries and the debates surrounding the emerging notions of a tertiary education sector. The delivery of higher education programs in TAFE institutes has created significant challenges for teachers working in these settings. They work within a TAFE culture but confront the regulatory frameworks demanded of higher education providers. Scholarship is a particularly problematic issue because it has not been an expectation in TAFE providers but is a key feature in higher education. This paper examines the emerging nature of scholarship in TAFE providers offering higher education programs. We report on an analysis of AUQA audit reports and associated documentation, which begin to formalise the notion of ‘scholarship’ in Victorian TAFE Institutes. We then compare this emerging official definition of scholarship in VET with higher education TAFE teacher’s experience of scholarship using interviews. We argue that higher education teachers and their TAFE institutes are forming distinctive hybrid scholarly cultures and practices as they take on external expectations (eg via AUQA) and navigate through existing orientations to industry, educational commitments to teaching and the absence of scholarly structures and values in TAFE.

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Open Access Conference Paper

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Open Access