Birmingham: universities have questions to answer on attrition

Attrition rates at Australia’s universities slipped just two per cent under the demand driven system, according to new figures from the Commonwealth Department of Education. Using a “new attrition rate” the federal figures show undergraduate attrition for all providers at 12.94 per cent in 2010 and 14.97 per cent in 2015, a 0.3 per cent improvement on 2014 but close to the lowest number for a decade.

According to Education Minister Simon Birmingham, “Australia’s universities need to be taking responsibility for the students they enrol… Too many students clearly aren’t getting the support they need to succeed.”

Senator Birmingham added, “A small group of universities have shown a disproportionate increase in attrition over the last few years at the same time as they’ve boosted their enrolments. Those universities have questions to answer.”

And he said that the figures make the case for his proposed performance metrics, which are set out in legislation now blocked by Senate opposition;

““This data reinforces the need for the performance funding reforms the Turnbull Government has proposed.

Performance funding would put student outcomes at the centre of learning. Retention, completion, student satisfaction and getting a job should be key to the mission of our higher education institutions. We should be willing to ask those universities to account for their performance and to take steps to improve the results that they achieve and to be accountable for the record funding that they’re receiving.”


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