Last year the then Turnbull government made some education policy decisions.
Then the government intends to make university students pay more and at lower levels of income for their education. In general this is a good thing. At the same time, however, the government will be paying less to the universities to provide that teaching. So what do I predict is going to happen:
- Universities will substitute away from expensive teaching activities and towards inexpensive teaching activities. So expect to see more business and law students and fewer engineering students.
- Universities will substitute away from now slightly lower profit margin students to relatively higher profit margin students, so expect to see more international students and/or fee paying students.
I find it strange that the government is cutting the more value adding activity of universities (i.e. teaching) and still throwing money at the lower value-add activity that is research. This is consistent with the notion that university research is a primary driver of innovation and growth (it’s is a nice story, but probably not true).
Foreign student numbers at our top universities are booming while local student enrolments are static, according to a new report.
There were 168,985 overseas students starting courses last year at the nation’s top institutions — up 18,812 on 2016.
But the number of domestic enrolments rose by only 5143 to 416,371, the study by the Australian Population Research Institute revealed.
The problem is that the Liberals think that malign neglect is a viable university policy and that a funding freeze would punish those pesky trouble-makers that vex them so much.
If the government were keen to implement change in the university system they would look to modify the governance of universities. I would look to making, at least, two changes:
- University councils must be made up of alumni and donors.
- University councils must have, at least, half (if not more) of its members elected by the alumni.
Those would be serious reforms beyond just playing money games.
My view on what needs to be done has not changed.