Keep it flexible: allocating dip and PG degree places

The government plans to bring order (and a bit of a cut) to the now not entirely consistent way it funds and allocates sub degree and PG places in universities (CMM November 14).

It asked the higher education community what it thought and now the Grattan Institute’s Andrew Norton has obliged responded with his usual insight-rich, policy-dense analysis.

While Mr Norton addresses the issues the government raises, he does make it clear that everything would be easier if the demand driven system for UG places was still in place, with sub-degree ones added, (they weren’t included originally).

Bachelor-degree places grew dramatically under demand driven funding, and international student enrolments are still growing strongly. Without fixed allocations of places or funding to institutions, places can flow between higher education providers according to their supply decisions and student demand,” he writes. But with DDF gone, he proposes least-worse options to maximise flexibility, including:

* rolling sub bachelor places into an UG block grant; so, universities can “adapt to changing student needs and demands”

* no change in allocations of places. “There is too little reason for confidence that the new use for a reallocated place will be better than the old use.”

* not allocating diploma places on “industry need,” as they are not stand-alone employment qualifications but pathways to or complementary courses for bachelor degrees

As to “the trend towards using postgraduate qualifications for initial professional entry”, he proposes continuing to fund capped places in the existing University of Melbourne and UWA bachelor-masters qualifications and to provide “demand driven funding for a range of teaching, nursing and allied health courses.” There should be a “transition of other fields back to full-fee for postgraduate coursework,” he argues.


to get daily updates on what's happening in the world of Australian Higher Education