The lose-lose-lose options for student funding

The National Tertiary Education Union has analysed the university system’s options under the government’s funding cap on undergraduate places. The news is bad, bad and bad.

Option One: maintain current participation rates, with student numbers growing in line with population increases. This will increase domestic numbers by 4.9 per cent, to 665 000 in 2022. However, the freeze on funding at 2018 levels will mean Commonwealth Grant Scheme support per place will fall from $11 100 to $10 057.  “Universities will need to decide whether they try to maintain participation rates or try to maintain the real level of Commonwealth funding per student.”

Option two: Reduce enrolments by 4.6 per cent to keep CGS support per place at 2018 levels. But this will cost money as the government plans to increase funding by the per centage increase in the 18-64 population, which the union suggests will be lower than CPI. Welcome back unmet demand – the NTEU suggests 66 000 people will miss a place by 2022.

Option three: Freeze enrolments at 2018 levels through to 2022, but this does not save money if CGS increases are below CPI.

Of course, CMM suggests, managements have other options, they could increase international numbers and reduce the share of income faculties received for teaching such students. Or they could reduce the transfer from CSP to research funding. But both break the prime directive of taxation maximum revenue for minimum complaints.

As it stands universities face a loose, loose, loose scenario if they stick with variations of their present business models.


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