Assessment 1: Critical Review

A Summary

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The analyzed article, “Higher Education Pays for Itself Many Times Over,” was published on July 22, 2016 at The Conversation web portal. Its author, Glenn Withers, is a university professor teaching economics. The main argument that the author develops in the article concerns the problems of modern Australian universities, and the consequences that have occurred in the last years due to the reforms for the future of the nation in general and higher education in particular. Additionally, Withers (2016) discusses the three basic positions in relation to this topic. First, the author raised the problem of the development of higher education as well as the knowledge and skills in terms of costs economy. Second, he suggested economic modeling that should be the focus to open criticism and challenged by a further research aimed at facilitating the improved understanding of the evidence-based policy. Third, Withers (2016) made an overview of the study which examines publicly planned and accepted policies regarding investment and structural packages for the reform. Furthermore, the author showed that there is a natural tension between universities and their sponsors, and that historically established financial and organizational provisions made it possible to achieve a viable compromise between idealistic goals of academic work and the routine tasks.

During the last three decades, higher education in Australia has become a mere source of public and private income. In this regard, Withers (2016) developed the argument along with significant evidence from different sources, which include data from several articles related to the discussed topic. The author used the evidence from the sources such as Birmingham and Andrews’s (2015) article to highlight the significant value of the incomes from education services sector. Withers (2016) also incorporated the data from Australian’s Policy Statement (2016) to show that education is currently the fourth largest export in the country. Another source was from KPMG Econtech (2009) analyzing the income of the years 2006 and 2011. Finally, the author used the information from Deloitte Access Economics’ report (2015) to demonstrate the importance of higher universities. As a conclusion, the author suggested to provide funding for tertiary education in such a way giving the perspective of the future development of higher education in Australia.

A Critical Analysis

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The exposure to a greater or lesser extent is evident in different types of discursive practices of mass communication. According to Higgins and Walker (2012), persuasion is one of the broad categories of classical rhetoric, precise boundaries of which are almost impossible to establish. However, the main categories that correlate with persuasion and that realize the conviction in specific messages can be specified. They include logos, ethos, and pathos. The concept of logos implies the means of persuasion that operate to reason. The concept of ethos linked with the means of persuasion in turn appeals to the norms of social behavior. Finally, the concept of pathos appeals to the senses, and its essence lies in the speaker’s ability of giving the listeners a sense that might somehow affect their opinion. Being applied properly and successfully, ethos, logos, and pathos, can help the competent rhetoricians to soberly assess and monitors their goals and capabilities, as well as moral content of statements.

From this perspective, Withers (2016) mainly used the appeal to the rational sphere of the audience, in particular logically structured evidence that is based on the cause-and-effect relationships. To be more convincing, the author incorporated various statistics and numerical material of all the used reports in the article.

The heart of each argument, driven by Withers (2016) to confirm his own thesis, contains certain word that reflects universal and national values. These words are “economy,” “employment,” “productivity,” “education,” etc. Furthermore, all the arguments include multiple statistics and numerical indicators, which only increase the degree of rationality. For example, the indicators of the high value of incomes from education services sector, the increase in the rate of return, the percentage of reduction of return to the investment for a certain period of time, etc. In addition, carefully selected vocabulary and various linguistic techniques, like the presence of adjectives in the comparative and superlative degrees, give the arguments particular brightness, imagery, and often solemn. The usage of such techniques enables the manifestation of rhetorical pathos. All the above aspects influence rational consciousness of the audience, since they do not only perform informative function, but also serve as important means of strengthening the expressiveness of speech. As a rule, these arguments have a great emotional impact on the audience. Therefore, logically built reasoning may become rather emotional.

Ethos in turn demonstrates personal qualities appealing to the ethics of the society, that allows Withers (2016) to establish the contact with the audience and position his approved authority. The author did not use direct ethos phrases, but his social status and other additional information are presented in the right hand corner of the web page, which might indirectly promote the auditory.

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With the help of argument fallacies, Withers’ (2016) article creates a logical flow of evidence in the discussion. However, the author finishes the article with a suggestion of funding tertiary education. Such conclusion is not logical, and the title of the article does not give a hint of this outcome.

Therefore, it is possible to distinguish the three components of reasoning in Withers’ (2016) article. The rational component is evident when the arguments are based on facts, statistics, and examples. The emotional component appears in the appeals to feelings and emotions of the audience, which is reflected in a carefully chosen vocabulary. The ethical component is reflected in appeal to the audience’s system of values that relate to national, cultural, and economic aspects.

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