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Review of Higher Education Final Report

December 2008

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On 13 March 2008 the Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, announced a major Review of Australian Higher Education led by Professor Denise Bradley, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of South Australia. 

The final Report, released by the Minister on 17 December 2008, identifies a number of structural, organisational and financial challenges facing Australia’s higher education sector, and provides 46 recommendations for reform. The Government will consider the recommendations and respond to the report in early 2009.

Aspects to consider about Australia’s higher education system:

Australia has 37 public universities, two private universities and around 150 other providers of higher education.
The public universities derive significant proportions of their income from non-government sources and some private providers receive government subsidies.
29% of Australia’s 25-34 year olds have degree-level qualifications compared with targets of around 50% in other OECD countries.
By 2010 the supply of people with undergraduate qualifications will not keep up with demand.
Indigenous Australians, people with low-socio economic status and those from regional and remote areas are under-represented within the higher education system.
Provision of higher education in regional areas is made complicated by factors such as distance, transport and critical mass, and is exacerbated by decreases in the 15-24 year old age group.
Full-time students straight from school studying on campus now make up a small proportion of the total university student population in many institutions.
The quality of higher education is considered to be declining due to a number of factors, including out-dated national quality control mechanisms and high student to staff ratios.
25% of Australia’s higher education students are from other countries and are concentrated in a relatively narrow range of subject fields.
Australia is the only OECD country where the public contribution to higher education remained at the same level in 2005 as it had been in 1995. This has been considered by many commentators as an under-investment by government over that period.

The Report emphasises that the quality and performance of a nation’s higher education system is critical to its standard of living and its economic and social progress, as well as underpinning legal, economic, social and cultural institutions.  The report suggests that it is crucial for Australia to have a highly skilled workforce to meet future challenges in an increasingly globalised world. 

Recommendations

The Report contains a number of significant reforms, in total costing over $5.7billion over four years (including $1.8 billion over four years for base funding for teaching, $1.14 billion in indexation and $1.2 billion for research and infrastructure).  It proposes a more deregulated funding arrangement where universities may enrol as many students as they want  and introducing a voucher-style system where subsidies ‘follow’ students to the university they choose, rather than being set according to universities’ historical student numbers.

Some of the key recommendations include:

Targets
Increasing support/funding
Governance
Teaching and Learning Capital Fund for Higher Education

On 12 December 2008 the Minister for Education Julia Gillard announced a new $500 million Teaching and Learning Capital (TLC) Fund for Higher Education. The new fund will provide a one-off investment of $500 million targeting capital expenditure towards developing infrastructure for teaching and learning spaces in Australia’s universities and upgrading existing facilities.  The TLC Fund is part of the $4.7 billion nation-building infrastructure package announced by the Prime Minister.

Distribution of Teaching and Learning Capital Fund

TLC grants will be made available from 1 July 2009. Funding will be distributed among universities through grants taking into account each university's share of total domestic students. Institutions with large numbers of students will especially benefit. This new capital investment comes on top of $500 million already invested in universities through the Better Universities Renewal Fund and the Education Investment Fund.

Higher Education Provider Approximate Grant $m
The Australian National University 18.2
University of Canberra 5.4
Australian Capital Territory Total 23.6
Australian Catholic University 8.3
Multi-State Total 8.3
Charles Sturt University 14.9
Macquarie University 12.9
Southern Cross University 6.6
The University of New England 7.9
The University of New South Wales 22.2
The University of Newcastle 15.0
The University of Sydney 27.0
University of Technology, Sydney 16.0
University of Western Sydney 20.4
University of Wollongong 10.1
New South Wales Total 153.1
Bachelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education 0.4
Charles Darwin University 3.0
Northern Territory Total 3.5
Bond University 2.4
Central Queensland University 6.4
Griffith University 19.3
James Cook University 8.0
Queensland University of Technology 23.2
The University of Queensland 22.7
University of Southern Queensland 8.0
University of the Sunshine Coast 3.3
Queensland Total 93.2
The Flinders University of South Australia 8.8
The University of Adelaide 11.1
University of South Australia 14.9
South Australia Total 34.8
University of Tasmania 10.5
Tasmania Total 10.5
Deakin University 17.4
La Trobe University 16.5
Melbourne College of Divinity 0.5
Monash University 26.0
RMIT University 16.7
Swinburne University of Technology 7.6
The University of Melbourne 24.1
University of Ballarat 3.6
Victoria University 10.5
Victoria Total 123.0
Curtin University of Technology 15.3
Edith Cowan University 10.9
Murdoch University 7.8
The University of Notre Dame Australia 4.2
The University of Western Australia 11.7
Western Australia Total 49.9
TOTAL 500.0

Links

Review of Higher Education Final Report (in full)
Review of Higher Education (website)
Teaching and Learning Capital Fund for Higher Education (media release by the Minister for Education 12 December 2008)

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