Next policy prop is up to unis

Universities are keen to get back into the policy game, which Education Minister Simon Birmingham shut down via MYEFO, replacing demand driven funding for undergraduate places with a future system allocating student growth according to metrics decided by the government. Universities Australia president Margaret Gardner says she wants her members to participate in a national debate on the future of post school education, which she will kick off at UA’s March conference.

Understandably so. Higher education veterans unhappily remember the old days when universities and discipline groups that lobbied longest did best and public servants allocating places on a best guess of national need basis.

But a bare decade after the Bradley Review, which proposed the demand driven system, there is not a ravenous appetite for another full-scale inquiry. Instead, policy people suggest the Business Council of Australia’s October paper could be the basis for a new tertiary education-funding model. The BCA proposes a post-secondary sector, which students access via “a lifelong skills account” (consisting of a subsidy and an income contingent loan).

Good-o, but even BCA plan admirers acknowledge the government will not want to sell the scheme, what with its last three change proposals being howled down. If the higher education community wants policy change it is going to have to come up with proposals and build a coalition in support.


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