Australian Financial Review | 19 November 2012
Universities Australia’s first overarching policy paper will include statements about how higher education can contribute more to the national economy and will contain findings of a study which showed the vast majority of Australian parents want their children to get a degree.
An earlier version of the paper canvassed contentious ideas such as raising student fees and imposing a minimum entry score for certain professional courses.
While Universities Australia chairman Glyn Davis,would not be drawn on details of the latest version of the policy paper, he told the Financial Review that “we want to get universities up on to the public radar screen and we want the next government, whoever they are, to see [them] as core [contributors], not as a problem they have to solve”.
We are pound-for-pound one of the great education nations on the planet so let’s build on that and let’s do it while we’re ahead before the other nations overtake us. Because that’s the risk.
Although Universities Australia has always formed policies on certain issues, the policy paper will be the first to set a unanimously agreed direction for the sector as a whole.
One of Labor’s key higher education policies has been a national target for 40 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds to have a bachelor degree or higher by 2025, which has been underpinned by the uncapping of universityplaces, allowing as many students to enrol as universities will accept. When the government announced it would delay research funding increases in October to help return the budget to surplus, Group of Eight chairman and University of New South Wales vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer said it was time to rethink the uncapped places policy:
The government could have saved $1 billion by limiting demand-driven funding to those with the ability to successfully complete and benefit from university education . . .
Davis says there is broad support for the target but presaged there might be some recalibration of the of the demand driven system.
You could imagine a time where some states have pretty much got to the 40 per cent but others are still getting there so I wouldn’t be surprised if the government, any government, contemplated starting to deal with individual institutions. It’s not a recapping per se or return to the old system but it would require individual institutions to make their case.