Productivity Commission report reaction: from cautiously supportive to outright appalled

“It’s a good thing nobody outside Finance and Treasury likes the Productivity Commission, otherwise people might pay attention to some of these ideas, a learned reader of many policy papers observes.

But some people are paying attention, in ways which could harm the grand coalition of universities which includes members with different interests.

Last night the Group of Eight suggested the “substance of the report” showed the PC in agreement with the Eight’s “consistent advocacy push.” According to Group of Eight Executive Director Vicki Thomson her members have high teaching standards and higher than average retention rates. “We enrol quality students and deliver quality graduates.” Having addressed a major part of the PC’s paper she turned to a big Go8 issue, the allocation of research funding; saying the Commission is right to suggest a “reassessment of research funding arrangements for universities.” Given the hint of a chance the Group of Eight could argue for more performance-based research funding, which would suit it but harm just about every other group in the system.

In contrast, Universities Australia defended all of its members, saying the PC “does not give a full picture of the reality of how universities work and the enormous role they play in lifting productivity (and) omits key facts on strong graduate employment and high levels of employer satisfaction with graduates.”

“The report sets up a false divide between universities’ focus on research and teaching. A defining feature of universities is that they are the only institutions that deliver research-informed teaching. This ensures that students are exposed to the latest thinking and developments in their chosen field of study,” UA CEO Belinda Robinson said.


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