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Analysis and Comment (55)

Is it realistic to say graduates gain a million-dollar advantage over non-graduates? Is it realistic to say graduates gain a million-dollar advantage over non-graduates? Shutterstock

Million-dollar degree pay-offs: how real are they?

The main reason given for planned subsidy cuts to university courses has been that, with a degree, graduates will earn “a million dollars more”. Figure 1 shows how the May Budget compared graduate incomes…
Commonwealth scholarships sound like a good idea, but they’ve been mired in controversy over how they will be doled out. Commonwealth scholarships sound like a good idea, but they’ve been mired in controversy over how they will be doled out. Shutterstock

The problem with Commonwealth ‘scholarships’

Equity scholarships usually attract general support as a “good thing”. It therefore seems surprising that the Coalition’s proposed new Commonwealth scholarship scheme should generate so much contention…
When contemplating our fee deregulation gamble, we should look no further than New Zealand, where it was tried and failed. When contemplating our fee deregulation gamble, we should look no further than New Zealand, where it was tried and failed. The.Rohit/Flickr

Will Australia learn from NZ’s mistakes in higher education?

Since 1990 New Zealand has introduced many dramatic “reforms” into its higher education system, many of them well in advance of Australia. A number of these “reforms” have been unwound after nasty, unintended…
Fee deregulation, cuts to research: these won’t help boost Australia’s universities in the rankings. Fee deregulation, cuts to research: these won’t help boost Australia’s universities in the rankings. AAP

Pyne’s plan isn’t the way to protect our unis from ‘mediocrity’

The rise and rise of Australian universities in the THE World University Rankings is indeed a good news story. Eight Australian institutions ranked in the top 200, and five in the top 100; that’s quite…
Submissions to the inquiry into Christopher Pyne’s higher education bill have now closed: what do they say? Submissions to the inquiry into Christopher Pyne’s higher education bill have now closed: what do they say? AAP

A few embrace higher ed changes but many more have reservations

Submissions to the Senate’s inquiry into the higher education reform bill have now closed. The submissions are to assist the Senate in deciding whether or not to pass, block or amend proposed changes to…
The fee model University of Western Australia will adopt under fee deregulation would see course repayments quadruple in some instances. The fee model University of Western Australia will adopt under fee deregulation would see course repayments quadruple in some instances. Shutterstock

NATSEM: UWA model would lift uni debt for women, disadvantaged

The University of Western Australia recently announced its proposed post-deregulation price structure. UWA’s new fee is a flat fee of A$16,000 per year for undergraduate courses, which is significantly…
A little competition would do universities some good. A little competition would do universities some good. Flickr/Michael Matti

Dose of competition can lift higher education productivity and quality

Higher education has barely been touched so far by national competition policy. It was almost invisible in the original Hilmer Report of the mid-1990s, but features in the draft Competition Policy Review…
CPI? Bond rate? Surcharge? What’s the best and fairest way to charge interest (or not) on student loans? CPI? Bond rate? Surcharge? What’s the best and fairest way to charge interest (or not) on student loans? Shutterstock

The best compromise for HELP loan interest rates

The government’s plan to charge up to 6% interest on HELP loans has been widely attacked as unfair. Many critics, including Shadow Education Minister Kim Carr, the Group of Eight universities, Universities…
Allowing the states full responsibility for funding for all schools would lead to more coherent allocation decisions. Allowing the states full responsibility for funding for all schools would lead to more coherent allocation decisions. Flickr/andresmh

Renewing schooling federalism: getting the settings right

The reform of Australia’s federation is under review. In this special series, we ask leading Australian academics to begin a debate on renewing federalism, from tax reform to the broader issues of democracy…
The sandstone universities have come out in support of fee deregulation, but their support is based on misguided beliefs. The sandstone universities have come out in support of fee deregulation, but their support is based on misguided beliefs. AAP

Three misguided beliefs of the Group of Eight universities

The Abbott government’s proposals for reform of the higher education sector have not found much favour with students, academics or the general public. They have, however, had a good deal of support from…
Who owns the university after the crash? Who owns the university after the crash? simononly

After the crash, who owns the British university in 2014?

By international standards, British universities have extraordinarily high levels of autonomy. They control all of their assets, they employ their own staff, renew their own leadership and governors and…
Fee deregulation mightn’t be ideal, but it’s the best option we have given underfunding of the higher education sector. Fee deregulation mightn’t be ideal, but it’s the best option we have given underfunding of the higher education sector. AAP

Higher education – how did we get to here?

For years the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee - and then Universities Australia - warned higher education in Australia was moving inexorably towards a tipping point. Without substantial increases…
Should we put a cap on uni fees? Should we put a cap on uni fees? Shutterstock

Which cap fits? Putting a ceiling on university fees

In all of the debate about the government’s plans for higher education, what people seem to worry about most is the prospect of ballooning student fees, with predictions of A$100,000 degrees or more. So…
Gough Whitlam’s free university didn’t greatly improve access for students from low socio-economic backgrounds, but if Pyne thinks his reforms will, he’s badly mistaken. Gough Whitlam’s free university didn’t greatly improve access for students from low socio-economic backgrounds, but if Pyne thinks his reforms will, he’s badly mistaken. Flickr/Gostalgia

Maybe free university didn’t improve access for all, but neither will fee deregulation

Education Minister Christopher Pyne defied historical orthodoxy last week by declaring Gough Whitlam’s free tertiary education a failure. Free education only helped reinforce the place of the rich, Pyne…
Universities have other options rather than just raising fees to astronomical levels. Universities have other options rather than just raising fees to astronomical levels. Flickr/Philip Nordmeyer

Fee deregulation is not the only answer for universities

Debate begins this week on the higher education bill introduced to parliament last week. If political bartering can result in some sort of compromise, there is potential for the higher education sector…
The higher education bill opens up government subsidies to anyone who can call themselves a university. But can anyone call themselves a university? The higher education bill opens up government subsidies to anyone who can call themselves a university. But can anyone call themselves a university? AAP

Bill opens door to putting private and public universities on same footing

There’s a devil lurking in the detail of the higher education reform bill presented to parliament. As expected, the bill, introduced yesterday, proposes to open Commonwealth subsidies for undergraduate…
Christopher Pyne’s education “reforms” have been wildly unpopular, and he hasn’t been very successful in winning people over. Why? Christopher Pyne’s education “reforms” have been wildly unpopular, and he hasn’t been very successful in winning people over. Why? AAP

Politics 101: why Pyne has failed to sell his education ‘reforms’

No. And with that, Clive Palmer indicated that the populist Palmer United Party (PUP) would not support the federal government’s proposed deregulation of the tertiary education system. At least in its…
Lie back and think of your debt. Lie back and think of your debt. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Taking on student debt would be a corruption of university ideals

The funding of higher education is a mess, and it is getting messier. New proposals on the table to allow universities to take on the debt burden of their own students could have profoundly worrying consequences…
Access denied, for some higher education colleges. Access denied, for some higher education colleges. UK passport via xdrew/Shutterstock

Cost of student visa clampdown weighs heavily on colleges

The British government’s recent decision to suspend the licences of one university and 57 private further education colleges to sponsor international students has generated shockwaves across the sector…
Spreading growth around. Spreading growth around. The_Virgo/Paul Callan

Deploy universities to fix England’s regional divide

Imbalances in the share of growth across the regions continue to be deep-rooted, the Office of National Statistics has confirmed. By 2012, the South East was the only region that had only just crept ahead…
In the new uncapped fee environment, there seems little to stop door-to-door sellers targeting the ill-informed. In the new uncapped fee environment, there seems little to stop door-to-door sellers targeting the ill-informed. Image sourced from www.shutterstock.com

Uncapping education fees and unleashing the unscrupulous

The federal budget proposal to uncap university fees could be taken as a blank chequebook for both universities and self-accrediting colleges offering higher education services. On the ABC’s 7.30 program…
University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker says the Kemp-Norton review into the demand-driven system has wider ramifications for higher education. University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker says the Kemp-Norton review into the demand-driven system has wider ramifications for higher education. Supplied

Letting the market rip will suck the soul out of universities

I honestly don’t know the full range of opinion among Australian vice-chancellors about the recommendations in the recent Kemp-Norton Report on the Demand Driven System. I know the opinions of some, who…
Was it worth it? Was it worth it? Brunel University

Hard Evidence: can dropping out of university be positive?

University dropout seems a dreadful thing to happen. From the perspective of a student you might feel you’ve failed and have to pay off debt for a life time. The university gets penalised if student non-completion…
Headaches ahead. Headaches ahead. Tired businessman image

New standards could make university finances appear at risk

Winning large research and capital grants could soon bring unwanted headaches for UK universities along with all the acclaim. From the next academic year, their accountants will be expected to adopt new…
Long arm of the law reaches onto campus. Long arm of the law reaches onto campus. Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive

University lecturers must remain educators, not border guards

The increasingly stringent control of student migration by the Home Office is damaging both the integrity of our relationships as teachers with students and the future of our universities. It was for this…
Four years after mass protests, dreams of going to uni are dropping. Four years after mass protests, dreams of going to uni are dropping. Tim Ireland/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Can we stop worrying about university application rates?

It was clear that recent fundamental changes to the way we pay for university in England would have longstanding ramifications for young people’s plans for their future. Two years into the new fee regime…
The food is better in Kuala Lumpur. The food is better in Kuala Lumpur. University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

It still makes sense to build an overseas campus

Students have always travelled in search of the best study opportunities and researchers have always collaborated across borders. But until fairly recently, higher education institutions have been stubbornly…
Give me a white coat any day. Give me a white coat any day. UCL Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Is postgraduate study still just for the elite?

The funding climate for the public sector in England has been as inclement as the actual weather recently. So the government’s recent allocation of £50m to bring down the barriers for entry into postgraduate…
The customers are always right. The customers are always right. Chris Ison/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Universities more concerned with student numbers than government grants

I recall the time some years ago when the possible introduction of student fees was being debated and a government decision was imminent. I was attending a seminar on the subject organised by a think tank…
There’s renewed debate around whether universities need to specialise in research or teaching. There’s renewed debate around whether universities need to specialise in research or teaching. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Research and teaching – what do we actually want Australian universities to do?

“We must give universities more freedom to focus on what they are good at… If that means that some universities want to focus significantly more on teaching, then they should confidently do so… Government…
Universities should be allowed to focus on what they are good at, Mr Pyne said. Universities should be allowed to focus on what they are good at, Mr Pyne said. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Govt should encourage unis to specialise in teaching or research: Pyne

Government policy should encourage some universities to focus on research and others on teaching, enabling institutions to specialise in certain areas, Australia’s shadow education minister, Christopher…
New tertiary education minister Craig Emerson needs to bring stability to a portfolio that has seen three ministers in 2013. New tertiary education minister Craig Emerson needs to bring stability to a portfolio that has seen three ministers in 2013. AAP/Alan Porritt

Ministerial revolving doors: why higher education needs stability now

Craig Emerson is definitely a multitasker. Who can forget his singing routine on national television last year when he borrowed the tune of the 1970s Skyhooks rock classic Horror Movie and lampooned alarmist…
Australian researchers are frustrated with a funding system that makes job prospects unreliable and often ties them to short term contracts. Australian researchers are frustrated with a funding system that makes job prospects unreliable and often ties them to short term contracts. AAP

Australian researchers held back in struggle for jobs, funding

There’s a lot of bitterness, anger and frustration out there in the world of Australian research. A new survey has shown that researchers like their work, but not the system in which they work. It’s the…
President Barack Obama addressing a large crowd at University of Wisconsin – could he or his competitor Mitt Romney change higher education in Australia? President Barack Obama addressing a large crowd at University of Wisconsin – could he or his competitor Mitt Romney change higher education in Australia? EPA/Tannen Maury

Why the US election matters for Australian higher education

US presidential elections generally have little direct impact on Australia. And broadly speaking, this campaign is shaping up to be no different. Despite their ideological differences, Barack Obama and…
Some people could be left behind in the digital revolution in higher education. Some people could be left behind in the digital revolution in higher education. Divide image from www.shutterstock.com

Online education: can we bridge the digital divide?

FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: We continue our series on the rise of online and blended learning and how free online courses are set to transform the higher education sector. Today, Tim Pitman writes on who…
Ranking universities is useful for only understanding the bigger picture. Ranking universities is useful for only understanding the bigger picture. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Limited numbers: what university rankings can (and can’t) tell us

The release of The Times Higher Education World University Rankings will be welcomed by many people in the Australian university sector. See the full list of The Times Higher Education World University…
Universities need to play closer attention to how they teach students, not just rankings. Universities need to play closer attention to how they teach students, not just rankings. University image from www.shutterstock.com

When rankings and research rules, students come last

The Times Higher Education rankings will be released tomorrow and universities around the world will be clamouring to find out how they place. As all academics know, rankings are closely tied to research…
The rise of open online courses will affect almost every part of higher education, including the international student market in Australia. The rise of open online courses will affect almost every part of higher education, including the international student market in Australia. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Online open education: yes, this is the game changer

Mass Open Online Courseware (MOOCs) is less than a year old but it is already clear this will be the game changer in higher education worldwide. Right now it is reverberating through Australian universities…
Should the government subsidise university places when graduates gain so much from a tertiary education? Should the government subsidise university places when graduates gain so much from a tertiary education? Flickr/pamhule

University subsidies: do graduate winners need another prize?

After releasing my report, Graduate Winners: Assessing the public and private benefits of higher education, the question I have most been asked is: if university fees go up, will students still come? It’s…
Future students need more than rankings to make the best choice. Future students need more than rankings to make the best choice. AAP Image/Julian Smith

University ranking rankles: playing the prestige game

Australian universities compete with providers all over the globe. The stakes are high and it is hard to ignore world rankings. In The Conversation recently, however, University of Southern Queensland’s…
The global movement towards open access publishing has taken another step with the release of the Finch report. The global movement towards open access publishing has taken another step with the release of the Finch report. Flickr/liikennevalo

Finch inquiry’s open access tune won’t resonate in Australia

A committee convened to examine how UK-funded research could be made more accessible released its report this week. The committee, chaired by Dame Janet Finch, was set up last year by Minister for Universities…
All cut out to fit the same mould? We can’t assume that all universities are trying to be the same. All cut out to fit the same mould? We can’t assume that all universities are trying to be the same. Flickr/walterh

Universities can’t all be the same – it’s time we embraced diversity

James Cook University drew a lot of attention in the higher education sector recently by publicly “opting out” of the Times Higher Education (THE) World University rankings. Their reason was simple enough…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called on miners to accept that the resources they mine belong to the people. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called on miners to accept that the resources they mine belong to the people. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Mining could invest in a future that belongs to all of us – education

Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered one of her strongest messages to the mining sector last night, telling mining bosses at a Minerals Industry dinner in Canberra that they don’t own Australia’s minerals…
The Victorian government’s TAFE cuts have shown other states exactly what not to do. The Victorian government’s TAFE cuts have shown other states exactly what not to do. Flickr/Takver

Victorian TAFE chaos: a lesson in how not to reform vocational education

For years, those concerned with vocational education and training have worried about how to lift the public profile of TAFEs. But what has taken many years for some – without much success – the Baillieu…
Serious, interconnected risks are closing in on the globalised community, from climate change to anarchy. Are we heeding the warnings? Serious, interconnected risks are closing in on the globalised community, from climate change to anarchy. Are we heeding the warnings? AAP/EPA/Daniel Deme

Highway to dystopia: time to wise up to the looming risks

In that world of peripheral vision, essential for business, social and political leaders, it is surprising that the World Economic Forum’s report, Global Risks 2012 has not received greater publicity or…

Research and News (10)