Like many Australians I woke to the news that the federal government had stuck it to the universities.
If tearing down statues is the thanks taxpayers get from tipping millions of dollars of subsidies into critical theory courses at university, it’s about time we stop chipping in.
Want to spent three years reading Foucault and dreaming about vandalising Captain Cook statues? Fine, but don’t expect a cent from taxpayers.
Damn commies. Had it coming:
In a different era, the case for publicly subsidising humanities was much stronger. Study of philosophy and literature, for instance, would leave students more worldly, literate and tolerant.
Today, they tend to leave them angry, narrow-minded, and unemployed, and obsessed with viewing everything through the simplistic prism of race, sexuality and gender. The Left lost the economic arguments comprehensively when the Soviet Union collapsed, but their rear guard action in the academy has been highly successful.
Don’t we all love the smell of napalm in the morning? What is best in life Conan? For everyone who hates universities and university educated people, all their Christmases had come at once. (Is it PC to mention Christmas?)
Here is The Minister:
We want our students to receive an education that sets them up for future success –because if graduates succeed, they will power an economic recovery that benefits all Australians.
And, when the economy is facing its greatest economic shock since the Great Depression, success looks like a job.
Projections prepared before the COVID-19 pandemic showed that over the five years to 2024 it is expected that the overwhelming majority of new jobs will require tertiary qualifications – and almost half of all new jobs will go to someone with a bachelor or higher qualification.
Health care is projected to make the largest contribution to employment growth, followed by:
- Science and Technology,
- Education, and
These four industries are projected to provide 62 per cent of total employment growth over the next five years. This is part of a long-term structural shift.
Universities must teach Australians the skills needed to succeed in the jobs of the future.
Well yes … and the big question is: Who is going to pay for that?
Now over the past 20 years or so, Australia has worked on a model where foreigners paid for our education. If you don’t believe me – believe Andrew Norton. Now those foreigners are gone – if not gone, not quite as reliable a source of income as before. As sure as hell, the Australian government doesn’t want to pay for it, and they’re not even going to ask the Australian taxpayer.
So. Plan B.
So here is a table from the AFR:
Looking at that table you might get the idea that the government is punishing those pesky, do-nothing humanities graduates. Communications students too (journalism – who doesn’t hate the media?). All those commerce and economics & law students with their ‘bullshit’ jobs. Well, they had it coming.
But … not so fast.
How are universities funded?
So the stripped down model goes something like this: Student applies to do course. Government pays uni $X for student doing the course (the government also fixes the price it is prepared to pay), the government then recovers $Y from the student over time via the tax system. This is described as a loan scheme but it actually isn’t. It should be formalised as a loan. But I digress. As The Minister said today, it is a good scheme.
So I played around with that table. How much funding in total goes to courses?
The government is passing off a cut in overall funding to science and engineering and maths and stuff as being a “good thing”.
Now many people are going to ask, “Isn’t this an increase in the price for students for do humanities?’. The answer is, “Well, sort of”. Prices in and of themselves are not important. Elasticity of demand is also important. When elasticity of demand is low people will buy the product even if prices are high. Demand for university education is already price inelastic.
One of the features of the Australian university funding mechanism is to blunt the operation of price signals. The logic being it is better for someone to go to university and have wasted taxpayer dollars and for someone to miss out. (If you don’t like that view – don’t shout at me, I didn’t set the policy – go shout at your MP).
So what is the government actually doing? It is substituting Management & Commerce, Law & Economics and Humanities students for international students. These domestic Australian students are the new cash cows who will provide the cross-subsidies for everyone else in the system. If you don’t believe me, here is the VC of the ANU (emphasis added):
The problem I see for the University (rather than for the individual students) is in the science, math, and engineering areas, because the total amount of money we get per student in these areas drops dramatically, whereas the total funding in CASS, CAP, Law, and CBE will actually increase. As the designer of HECS, Professor Bruce Chapman in our Research School of Economics, always reminds me, changing a student’s HECS debt by even a significant amount seems not to change their behaviour. Putting this all together, while our students in CASS, CAP, Law, and CBE will bear a higher HECS burden, those parts of the University will end up generating more money for future activities than they do now. Overall, we believe ANU will receive slightly total more funds for teaching than we have in the past.
The government is shifting the burden of financing the university sector from foreigners onto those Australians who are best able to bear the burden. Well, those Australians that the government thinks is best able to bear the burden. A sub-set of taxpayers who studies commerce, economics, law, humanities and communications.
CA senator Stirling Griff told The Australian that they support the policy in principle, but have concerns that changing course fees alone will not convince enough young Australians to not enrol in humanities and law.
We want people to enrol in the course that best suit their own individual needs. The government will be subsidising less of a humanities course, and the people doing those courses will be cross-subsiding more of the people doing courses like nursing and the like.
To be sure, the university system will still be smaller overall. But the cost of educating Australians is still being manipulated.