Growth under control and attrition unchanged says Universities Australia

Universities Australia focused on an article of faith among most of its members in responding to the new student stats, that demand driven funding was, is, and will be a good thing for them and for the country.

However universities responded with silence to yesterday’s student attrition statistics, which made less sense for the University of Melbourne with the lowest number (3.92 per cent) than for Torrens U with the highest (30 per cent). But as ever Universities Australia was out yesterday, working with what it had and making a sound policy case for the cause by connecting the attrition figures with the 2016 full year enrolment stats.

This is sound strategy, tackling two of the biggest arguments against Canberra funding a place for every domestic student a university will accept, that it encourages unsuitable people into study and that it will be an ever-expanding budget burden.

“The share of students dropping out of university is around the same as it was a decade ago – despite a dramatic expansion of access to a larger and more diverse group of Australians than ever before.
And university enrolments are also stable – in fact they are now slightly lower than the rate of population growth – torpedoing claims that the current system is growing unsustainably,” UA deputy chief executive Catriona Jackson said yesterday.

Ms Jackson also defended the system’s performance on attrition; “when people call for a crackdown on attrition, surely they don’t want to see mums juggling study with a job, or the worker who wants to study online, being turned away because they are from groups with traditionally higher attrition rates?,” which rather ignores Minister Birmingham’s wish to see universities with high attrition rates reduce them.


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