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RUN supports demand system and relaxation of fee caps

Regional Universities Network    |      3 March 2014

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The Regional Universities Network (RUN) says the continuation of the demand driven student system for bachelor degrees and its expansion to sub-bachelor degrees is important for regional Australian economies and communities. It also supports the option for universities to forgo Commonwealth Supported Places and uncap tuition fees on a course by course basis.

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RUN logo2In an opinion piece published in the Australian Financial Review (3 March 2014), the chair of RUN, Professor Peter Lee, called for regional economies to diversify, the uncapping of some tuition fees, new ways to recover HECS debt, further analysing the securitisation of HECS debt, and redirection of some of the participation component of the Higher Education Partnership and Participation funding.

For many regions, continued reliance on one industry or one employer makes entire communities vulnerable to decisions beyond their control.

Trained professionals are constantly needed to work across regional Australia and this will continue. It is important for the nation that regional Australia – and regional Australians – can fully participate in the modern economy. To achieve this, we have to overcome the current situation whereby only half the number of Australians in regional Australia have a degree compared to those in capital cities.”

Lee said that while mentoring and support of students who are enrolled in bachelor courses helps them succeed, many students would benefit from a place in a sub-degree course.

More sub-degree pathways would go some way to diffusing the debate about school leavers directly entering full bachelor-level studies with low ATARS. Redirecting some participation funding could help support the expansion of the demand driven system to sub-bachelor places.

He also said that he current allocation of Commonwealth supported postgraduate places must also be addressed and that the outcome should deliver any additional places to areas of specific skills needs and student demand relevant to regional Australia,

Lee said RUN supports the option for universities to forgo Commonwealth Supported Places and uncap tuition fees on a course by course basis on the basis that it would yield savings to support the demand driven system and its extension.

Other initiatives  worth exploring further, according to Lee, are the recoveryof  HECS-debt from Australians living overseas and from estates of the deceased, and the securitisation of the HECS debt, “subject to any analysis of the cost and complexity of implementation.”

 

See

Selling of HECS debt

 

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