Despite a nearly 50% increase in the proportion of 25-to-34-year olds with a degree since 2008, the percentage of university students from under-represented equity groups has hardly changed.
Huge disparities in how much students pay for courses mean graduates of high-fee disciplines will take longer to repay their debts or might never do so. That will ultimately add to government debt.
There was a striking gender divide in Australia’s international student data in year one of the pandemic. Women were more likely both to enrol and to succeed in their studies.
The face of Africa’s educational high-achievers is changing.
Australia’s major competitors in the international education market are already rebounding from the pandemic and have issued record numbers of student visas.
At the last election, Labor and the Coalition offered very different policies on university funding. Not so this time round, but the current flawed funding system could be improved further.
Students matching the ‘traditional’ applicant’s profile see university as a stepping stone to a good job. Those from less-well-represented groups care more about higher education’s intrinsic value.
The subsidies for student places up to 2024 fall about $1.1 billion short of the level needed to create the extra places the government promised its Job-ready Graduates policy would deliver.
Revenue fell by more than $2 billion in 2020 – less than feared – but universities are increasingly vulnerable to worsening conditions, with losses of international students accelerating.
Our current quarantine capacity would take six months to handle the return of 150,000 existing students, but 70,000 new students every six months would also be needed to halt the fall in enrolments.
Student mental health was already an issue before the pandemic. And then students felt the strain on all fronts as studies went online and they lost jobs and social contacts.
The first batch of returning international students are due to fly in this weekend, but Australia has a lot of work to do to maintain its pre-COVID share of the global education market.
While enrolments for men over the age of 25 increased, numbers fell for women in this age group. A likely reason for the difference is caring responsibilities, which increased during the pandemic.
The halving of international student numbers living in Australia to 300,000 is a huge hit to universities’ revenue. But our cities and businesses will also feel the loss of so many residents.
The tertiary qualifications target requires higher education providers, schools and communities to work together. But higher education can also help close the gap in the other target areas.
Shifts in global politics and other countries’ response to the coronavirus may have made the UK a more attractive option for international students.
A collapse in revenue and a lack of government support have led to university workforces being decimated to cut costs. This presents a number of longer-term risks for universities and the nation.
Although the government has identified a real problem, its heavy-handed regulation would create unnecessary red tape for universities and exclude students who should get a second chance.
Women make up around 55% of enrolments at university. But men are not at a disadvantage. They outperform women after they graduate in terms of both salary and seniority.
Australian universities need to reduce their reliance on revenue from students from countries such as China or India.