Uni attrition rate and job stats opens debate on demand driven system

Simon Birmingham was out yesterday using the new graduate employment figures to make his case for performance metrics, suggesting that the demand driven system means, “there’s a real incentive for universities to maximise their enrolment numbers.”

And in case anybody missed the point he added:

“We want to make sure that there is a clear incentive for universities to make sure they are admitting the right students into appropriate degree courses or programmes and that they are giving those students the maximum support and appropriate assistance to successfully complete their course and that they are making sure those courses best align with employment outcomes and helping students to get work-integrated learning opportunities to transition into the workforce. These are the types of things that ought to be central to our universities. … Many do a great job, but we want to make sure the incentives are there in terms of payments they receive from government to really focus on lifting those student outcomes, because that’s about being fair to the students and giving them what they’re signing up to.”

This is high-risk rhetoric. The last time CMM looked the demand driven system was government policy but people not following the party-line could use the senator’s suggestions to go beyond performance metrics and say they show the system enrols too many people unsuited to study.

People like National Tertiary Education Union president, Jeannie Rea.

“Universities have enrolled many more students since the introduction of the ‘Demand Driven System’ in 2012, but not surprisingly this market mechanism has not improved the quality of higher education.

Rather, universities enrol very large numbers of students to make up for insufficient funds per student, hoping some sort of efficiencies-of-scale will kick in.

However, the actual outcome is that more marginal students – those less prepared for university, with less family, financial or education support, less access to campuses and lower confidence – are more likely to drop out while still accumulating a fee debt.”

Ms Rea wants more public money per student, not fewer disadvantaged starters, but what’s the betting that people who want the demand driven system ended will ignore that bit.


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