Adam Creighton has written an interesting piece in the Australian about the fallacy that more people entering university increases national productivity. This is along the lines of a piece I wrote last December arguing that too many people go to university.
Clearly 100% of young Australians entering university would be too many; 0% too few. Is there an optimal percentage of the population? Probably not – it will vary by the nature of education, the nature of an economy and for a myriad of other reasons. It will vary between regions and over time. It will vary by the type of course. One or two more Sinclair Davidsons wouldn’t hurt – it might actually benefit the economy. But another Tim Flannery? Or another Jacques Derrida? What a terrible waste of potential toilet cleaners.
The obsession to increase university places comes at an horrendous cost to the economy and the wellbeing of students, both the gifted and the corralled.
The Abbott Government would do well to rid itself of the arbitrary target set by the previous administration. The target was 40% of young Australians having a bachelor’s degree by 2025. Unless I’m mistaken, I haven’t seen the Coalition repudiate that target.