Robert Griew and Nous Group colleagues have stepped up to fill the policy void in Canberra, with a paper proposing separate funding streams for teaching and research.
“Sooner or later we will need to face the issue of separating the cost of research from the funding of teaching places. This will direct research funding to research activity in a more transparent way. It will also reduce the cost of teaching at bachelor level, through the process of more accurate job definition and valuing great teachers within universities for teaching,” Griew, Jesse Borthwick, Cameron Barnes and Arun Murali write.
They argue that the university teaching-research model dates from another age and does not serve the students who have entered the expanded system of the last generation.
“The contemporary challenge is to provide great training, credentialing and educational service at an affordable price to the great middle of the post-school education population. The current system grants a near monopoly to public universities for this population. We are designing an education system for most of its participants based on the needs of the outlying 15 per cent and the experiences of their parents.”
The Nousers’ proposals include;
*a new category of university that acknowledges full higher educational merit in teaching, at lower price and with less substantial debt imposts on students”
* higher teaching standards in VET to “level the playing field” with high education”
* separating teaching and research costs to lower the cost of the former and make funding for the latter more transparent
* use (assumed) savings from the above for merit-based research funding
* quarantining funds for “local and regional economies and communities”
* end regulatory requirements which dictate what universities must do and leave them to “choose which funds they compete for, based on their strengths and missions.”
This last proposal is a core reason for reform,
“We mask the costs of research and teaching, and we facilitate internal cross-subsidies that avoid a more transparent pricing structure. We thus make it harder for some universities to fulfil their research missions in a global economy, and for others to better exploit local relationships and community engagement (via research or other activity). We bind these distinct missions to a brittle set of definitions.”