The case for demand driven funding: as good as it was in 2009

A decade after it was established the demand driven system is identified as a huge success.

The demand driven system was announced in the 2009 budget and to celebrate its creation, and lament its cancellation in 2017, the Innovative Research Universities lobby has crunched the data to identify its achievements.

What the demand driven system achieved

* The number of Australians attending university increased by 35 per cent between 2009 and 20117. Growth soaked up previously unmet demand between 2009 -13 before slowing to 2 per cent – 3 per cent in the later years

* Students in the bottom SES quartile accounted for 15 per cent of UGs in 2009 and 19 per cent in 2017

* Although the participation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island students remained below other Australians, the number of UGs from ATSI backgrounds grew by 91 per cent under the demand driven system

* Undergraduate numbers increased across community in-demand disciplines, by 50 per cent plus in health science and IT, with growth strongest in 2009-13, as unmet demand was met

 The predicted disasters it did not deliver

* slowing growth 20014-17 demonstrates the demand driven system was financially sustainable

* growth was not concentrated in low delivery-cost disciplines. “Growth in STEM was achieved through an alignment between university supply and demand from students as a discipline of choice.”

What happens next

The IRU has the news, and for as long as demand driven funding stays cancelled,  it is all bad.

“The cap on Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding since 2018 means universities will steadily reduce the number of students enrolled to avoid allowing the investment per student to drop below the level needed for quality student learning. Universities will not be able to meet the 2020s bulge in young people completing school.”

The case for the system is made

As one of its supporters put it back in 2011;

“for the last 30 years the Australian university sector has been highly regulated with decisions, over how many places each higher education provider can offer for each course and how much they can charge students for each place, decided by bureaucrats in Canberra. This highly centralised system did not adequately respond to student demand. ” That was Christopher Pyne, speaking in the House of Reps, June 21 2011.  No, the government did not cancel demand driven funding on his watch.


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