For university funding: suddenly it’s like the ’70s

The Wellings Panel includes a return to old funding ways – officials, not student demand deciding growth funding

Education Minister Dan Tehan adopted a retail-politics approach, announcing the new performance-based funding allocation yesterday. It will “incentivise universities to focus on their core-business: producing job-ready graduates with the skills to succeed in the modern economy,” he said. No mean feat given funding for next year is just $80m, with increases tied to the rate of national population growth.

What’s in it for unis: Universities who achieve annually will be able to receive cumulative funding-increases, up to a capped 7.5 per cent of their maximum basic grant amount.

How it will happen: Performance funding will be allocated on four factors, * domestic undergraduate satisfaction with teaching, * graduate employment rates, * attrition rates, * equity group participation. There is a great deal of detail on how these will be measured but, “universities should have an option to provide a brief qualitative submission, noting that the submission should focus on those measures where incremental improvement could drive the overall performance of the university,” the panel states.

A guiding role for officials: Universities that do not make their targets, could ask for money “through the mission-based compact process.”

“The panel believes that this would promote dialogue between the department and individual universities relating to developing effective strategies for performance improvement and better practice. A university should receive unallocated performance-based funding, contingent on the conditions negotiated with the department and specified in its mission-based compact.”


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