Australian Financial Review 6 August 2012
Vice-chancellors have warned politicians not to adopt the findings of the Grattan Institute report proposing significant cuts to public funding of higher education because they say it does not give sufficient weight to the public benefits of a highly educated population, such as lower crime rates and better health.
Curtin University vice-chancellor Jeanette Hacket says Grattan’s modelling focused on school leavers, who had a lifetime of earnings ahead of them. But at some universities up to half the enrollees were mature-age students who would baulk at higher fees, even if they could be deferred.
University of NSW vice-chancellor and Group of 8 chair Fred Hilmer – himself a proponent of some fee deregulation – says the report does not pay sufficient attention to other public benefits, including those derived from research – teaching subsidies help fund research – and the national prosperity that comes from having productive workforce.
The government keeps saying the big answer to [productivity gains] is education “The benefit to the country of a more educated workforce that generates higher productivity, I think, is a significant public benefit.
Peter Coaldrake, vice chancellor of Queensland University of Technology, says the report
… invites a retreat from the developing consensus in Australia about the importance of public investment in education as part of building an economy for the future. And what’s been occurring in Australia aligns with similar investments being made in our Asian neighbourhood.
CQU vice-chancellor Scott Bowman described it as proposing a funding regime of which North Korea would be proud:
This report is an absolute irrelevance to a university like ours with large number of disadvantaged and mature age students “It is unworkable for a developed nation like Australia and would make our educational performance match our gold medal tally.”
This seems to be a calculator with a personality disorder.