The charts compare the sources of electricity in Australia and France in the years 1980 and 2000. Between these years electricity production almost doubled, rising from 100 units to 170 in Australia, and from 90 to 180 units in France.
In 1980 Australia used coal as the main electricity source (50 units) and the remainder was produced from natural gas, hydro power (each producing 20 units) and oil (which produced only 10 units). By 2000, coal had become the fuel for more than 75% of electricity produced and only hydro continued to be another significant source supplying approximately 20%.
In contrast, France used coal as a source for only 25 units of electricity in 1980, which was matched by natural gas. The remaining 40 units were produced largely from oil and nuclear power, with hydro contributing only 5 units. But by 2000 nuclear power, which was not used at all Australia, had developed into the main source, producing almost 75% of electricity, at 126 units, while coal and oil together produced only 50 units. Other sources were no longer significant.
Overall, it is clear that by 2000 these two countries relied on different principal fuel sources: Australia relied on coal and France on nuclear power.
Today， many students attend university to acquire skills and knowledge that are intended to prepare them for future employment.
This trend is understandable. After all， in this era of financial turmoil and massive layoffs， the majority of young people view future job security as one of their most pressing priorities in life.
Also， across the world， students， tuition costs are rising each year， despite the tumultuous economic meltdown. These days， it is no exaggeration to say that pursuing higher education is very much like making a major investment; thus， university students and their parents tend to expect reasonable rates of return， which can be， to some extent， quantified by the graduates，starting salaries and benefits.
The societal demand is there as well. Being bogged down in stagnancy or recessions， societies are hoping for more productive and more responsive workforces to haul them out of the quagmire.
In spite of all these， I wish to point out that merely equipping students with job skills may defeat the very purpose of universities. It is true that higher education should meet the social demand for a more powerful workforce. Yet realistically， it would be hard for university administrators and faculty to identify accurately what technical skills and knowledge will be needed three or four years from now， when most technologies have been updating themselves on a daily basis.
What will also be at risk is students’ capacity to innovate as true innovations require thorough understanding of the fundamental theories guiding their predecessors.
The main function of a university in this age of crisis， therefore， should be to build core curricula that stress the cultivation of employment skills and at the same time， to provide students with elective courses on theoretical knowledge about their field of study， which can facilitate their grasp of the employment skills and meanwhile ensure their capacity to apply those skills innovatively.