2013 Tertiary Education Seminar - Students and money

Students and money

Bruce Chapman, Director, Policy Impact, Australian National University Prof. Paul Wellings, Vice-Chancellor, University of Wollongong Prof. Ian Young, Vice-Chancellor, Australian National University Chair: Prof. Leo Goedegebuure, Director, LH Martin Institute

It is 25 years since the Higher Education Contribution Scheme began and the funding weights applied to each discipline were fixed. But we are yet to achieve a stable consensus on private and public contributions. The funding weights are out of whack with real cost differences, and both public and student contributions are capped at levels blocking the provision of genuinely high quality programs across the board.

The rationale for government funding is unclear, a recipe for its continued erosion as a proportion of total revenues. The government commissioned the Base Funding Review to sort all of this out and then threw out the Review report! Meanwhile a future Coalition government, plugging a deficit created by the abolition of the carbon tax, is likely to cut government contributions and ramp up student charges.

And the public costs generated by HECS loans at higher levels, in a demand-driven system, are mounting. Can we afford to bankroll education as a right? Can students from poorer backgrounds afford to take on an increased HECS debt? With free online courses of high quality now available, shouldn't the cost of higher education be going down and not up?

Speaker biographies http://cshe.unimelb.edu.au/research/r...