In the absence of a government plan universities approve of, they are responding to the Business Council of Australia‘s tertiary education policy paper (CMM yesterday), lest it become the de facto alternative to Education Minister Birmingham’s intention of allocating student growth places on the basis of yet to set performance metrics.
The Innovative Research Universities Group, which released its response yesterday, likes the overall commitment to universal access to tertiary education but disputes much of the way the BCA wants to do it.
“Some elements suggest that an open market be the outcome, such as the unargued assumption that unfettered charges are the desirable outcome. Other elements postulate a high level of government intervention and standardisation, notably the concept of contracts and enforcement and that there is a standard normalised cost of efficient delivery that can be neatly divided into public and private benefit elements. From an open market perspective there is no natural cost or price; every course has a range of potential dollar points. There may be a minimum but even that assumes a way of delivery. Attempting to then define a ratio of public to private benefit would create a myriad further points and complications,” IRU argues.
And the Group suggests the Business Council does not quite get the breadth of what universities do.
“The paper ignores a significant part of university operations – research and innovation. While these can formally be considered distinct, the extensive overlap in personnel (the academic mind that researchers and teachers) and the facilities that support it in practice argue against any simplistic separation.”