New research from Victoria University’s Centre of Policy Studies (CoPS) looks to close the gap on the Higher Education pricing debate.
Professor Peter Dawkins, Vice Chancellor and President of Victoria University and Dr Janine Dixon, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre, released a paper detailing a new way forward in Higher Education policy at the Melbourne Economic Forum held on 16 March.
"Neither full fee deregulation, nor returning to a more regulated model with tight control over fees and possible reversion to more regulation of student numbers would serve us well," Professor Dawkins argued.
"What is required is a 'third way' incorporating some degree of price flexibility, and an enhanced equity package, while retaining the demand driven model."
The paper finds that the most promising way forward is a two-part package incorporating:
- a taper model whereby government tuition subsidies are reduced according to a progressive taper rate schedule, and
- an enhanced Higher Education Participation Program (HEPP) that includes scholarships for all low-socioeconomic status students, and additional support for students at risk of attrition.
Dawkins and Dixon outline a design for the taper model then provide indicative estimates of the likely effects on student contributions, government subsidies and university revenue.
In the proposed approach, subsidies are reduced when universities increase their fees above a threshold level according to a taper rate beginning at 20 percent and progressively increasing in steps of 10 per cent.
"Our modelling suggests that this approach will significantly dampen fee rises compared with the fully deregulated model and will allow for sufficient additional funding for universities to enable a significant enhancement of higher education in Australia," Professor Dawkins said.
"It will also free up substantial resources to implement the second part of the package: a greatly enhanced equity and participation package."
"We hope that the paper is considered by government, the Senate, the higher education sector and the broader community, to ultimately lead to a renewed, suitable package."
- Full paper in PDF format: Alternative Approaches to Fee Flexibility: Towards a Third Way in Higher Education Reform in Australia .
- Summary paper: Towards a third way in higher education reform in Australia: A proposed two-part package
- VU media release from 16 March 2015.
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