Universities Australia rejects performance-metrics plan

Universities Australia has politely slammed the government’s proposal to tie undergraduate growth places to performance metrics, pointing to its continuing call for reinstatement of demand driven funding.

The peak body’s response to the government’s discussion paper argues that the incentives outlined are poor policy;

“There is a tension between the goal of efficiency of public spending and the quality aims of the proposed performance funding system. Rationing funding is unlikely to improve performance. It is unlikely that universities will be emboldened to try new initiatives in this funding environment, as the discussion paper predicts.”

UA’ adds the incentives are implausible in application across all universities;

Incentivising improvement does not fit well with a metrics-based performance funding system that applies the same or similar metrics and incentives across the whole sector. Such a system would be poorly targeted, and less effective in both identifying problems and incentivising solutions. Performance improvement at a given institution must be dealt with at an institutional level. This includes taking into account the context in which a university operates.”

In fact, the very premise of the proposal is misplaced;

“Australia’s university sector is diverse. Universities are very much part of their local communities and often reflect the make-up of their region.  … A performance funding system should not penalise universities because their particular cohorts, communities or programs may lead to lower results than their counter-parts’ on particular indicators.”

However, if the government insists, UA suggests performance measures should be “appropriately targeted to individual universities.”


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