A clear ‘entitlement’ to public support for school education has been widely accepted policy for more than a century in Australia, but today’s young Australians are growing up at a time when a post‐school qualification is becoming a baseline requirement for meaningful social and economic participation.

In Financing Tertiary Education in Australia co-authors Mitchell Professorial Fellow Peter Noonan and Mitchell Policy Fellow Sarah Pilcher explain why that long-held acceptance of student entitlement should applied consistently across the entire tertiary education system.

This Mitchell Institute Issues Paper aims to get one foundational aspect of the tertiary matrix right: a fairer and simpler financing framework, across the different levels of government and tertiary education, that supports a tertiary education student entitlement for all school leavers.

The paper shows a way through the current dysfunctional tertiary education financing framework, and proposes reforms that would allow more Australians to gain the advanced skills needed to effectively participate, contribute and thrive in an increasingly competitive, global economy. It is in two parts:

  • Part 1 explains why we need a new approach, and why a student entitlement is part of the solution. It then explains why we need to think about this now, taking into account past reforms and their consequences.

  • Part 2 explores and proposes a design for an integrated tertiary education student entitlement in Australia, including next steps.

This paper represents the first phase of this project. Phase two will be a modelling report which will present the outcomes of detailed modelling on options for a single tertiary education student entitlement, to be released in the first half of 2015. 


Peter Noonan
Emeritus Professor of Tertiary Education Policy, Mitchell Institute
Sarah Pilcher
Education Policy Fellow, Mitchell Institute