Newish Education Minister Simon Birmingham has hinted that allowing universities to set their own fees could help make the higher education sector more financially sustainable, but said the government would consider all options before making a final decision.
The comments came weeks after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government would shelve the controversial deregulation plan and go back to the drawing table on university funding, due to an obstructionist Senate. ( and he forgot to add rampant criticism from students parents, educators and now even the universities. refer previous posts)
Birmingham said on Friday that flexible funding was on the cards, yet he was open to stakeholders' suggestions on the issue.
"I am cautious about how we step through providing autonomy and fee flexibility to universities in a way that ensures students behave rationally in their choices, and therefore minimise the level of debt they undertake," he said.
University of Melbourne's Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis said in order to avoid rising student debt under a deregulated system, universities should be more transparent about the cost of each of their courses.
This would ensure universities were accountable in setting their own fees, he said.
A recent Grattan Institute report estimated that one dollar in every five spent on research at universities comes from surpluses from teaching.
It revealed Australian universities earn up to $3.2 billion a year more from students than they spend on teaching.
Grattan Institute higher education program director Professor Andrew Norton said there needed to be increased transparency on university spending, as the universities' "desire" for more research could see fees rise under a deregulated system.
"There are thousands of people a year who apply for research grants and don't get them ... there is huge demand for research that is probably bordering on insatiable."
As one Facebook responder added to this post....better efficiency and management could do that too....
From the Age Education Facebook site.
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