Cuts to Commonwealth funded places in starter-courses and masters on agenda  

Education officials propose cutting federally funded enabling, subdegree and postgrad  coursework places by 5 per cent, starting for commencing students in 2020.

The reduction is floated by the Department of Education and Training in a new consultation paper.

This would hit the two universities offering a combination of undergrad degree and professional masters, with the University of Melbourne losing 131 postgraduate coursework places and UWA 82, from a system wide total reduction of 922.

The University of Newcastle would take the biggest hit on enabling places, 80 of 475 lost across the country. The University of Tasmania would lose 89 of 359 other sub-degree places. However the discussion paper supports the purpose of enabling and subdegree courses and states, “the government will establish new arrangements for allocating Commonwealth Supported Places.”

In contrast, the paper warns public subsidies of PG courses, “requires careful consideration.”

“As higher education providers have the option of providing these courses on a fee-paying basis, it is important any government investment is appropriately targeted to ensure benefits to the broader community are also achieved. However, defining parameters around ‘community benefit’ is not straightforward. Issues to consider include whether there is a genuine requirement for the increasing number of postgraduate level professional entry courses, how such arrangements interact with requirement of professional bodies and whether ‘professional development courses’ should be subsidised.”

Whatever the outcome, any new distribution of places will not be fixed, and “include cyclical review of course and allocation criteria in consultation with the sector and other stakeholders including employers and professional accreditation bodies.”

The Department invites responses to the paper to include, how frequently and how many places in all three programmes should be re-allocated and criteria for funding masters.

The University of Melbourne told CMM it would “carefully review” the proposal and respond to the proposal by the February deadline. So did UWA.


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