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Australian universities should slim down – BCA

Fairfax Media    |   4 August 2014

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Catherine-Livingstone-President-of-the-Business-Council-of-AustraliaThe president of the Business Council of Australia, Catherine Livingstone, says that Australian universities are enrolling too many domestic students who should opt for vocational education and training.  Go8 chair Ian Young thinks the elite universities probably will slim down if fees are deregulated.
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The president of the Business Council of Australia, Catherine Livingstone,  says that Australian universities are enrolling too many domestic students who should opt for vocational education and training.

She told the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce that a large number of school leavers would be better off undertaking education and training that gave them job-related and technical skills first.

I would say there are too many people going to university and not enough going through the VET system.  It does not preclude them from later entry into the university system. I just think some students would be better off with vocation and skill training and having work experience.

Livingstone’s comments were made before a speech by Group of Eight universities chairman Ian Young to the National Press Club when he suggested that many elite universities, such as his own Australian National University, would probably enrol fewer students under a deregulated fee system.

The enrolment figures of Australia’s top research universities –  such as ANU, Sydney and Melbourne –  exceed world standards; they typically reach up to 50,000 students, compared to Stanford in the US with 15,000.

This is because, under the capped fee system, universities must enrol huge numbers of students to subsidise their research programs.

If elite universities are allowed to increase their fees then they will be able to reduce the size of their institutions and offer a more personalised learning experience, Young said.  He said this downsizing would have a “trickle-down” effect throughout the university sector and lead to more high-achieving students attending regional and suburban universities.

Regional Universities Network chairman Peter Lee said he was “very sceptical” about Young’s predictions.

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