17 June 2019 - Australian University Reform achieved mixed outcomes in reducing educational inequity
Labor's policy of university for all a mixed success, report finds
Australian Associated Press (The Guardian, 17/06/2019)
The move to fund university places for all young Australians who wanted to study did offer many more opportunities but had mixed success.
The Productivity Commission has examined the demand-driven funding of universities and found that while it did let more students give tertiary education a try, best knowing their own abilities and aspirations, it also risked encouraging people to attend who ultimately would not benefit.
The Labor government uncapped the number of university places it would fund in 2010 but the Coalition, in search of a surplus, has frozen funding at 2017 levels, effectively ending the demand-driven system.
Uncapping uni places boosted opportunity for many — but not rural and Indigenous students
Fergus Hunter (The Sydney Morning Herald, 17/06/2019)
The uncapping of undergraduate university places enabled tens of thousands of people from poorer backgrounds to access higher education but it failed to boost opportunity for Indigenous and rural students and caused a spike in dropout rates, a major new study has found.
The report by the Productivity Commission on the demand-driven university system — introduced from 2010 and effectively ended by the government last year — has found the model achieved "mixed" outcomes in reducing educational inequity.
The study, which is the most comprehensive analysis yet of students that enrolled because of the demand-driven system, found that the school system needs to be improved to better prepare students for tertiary education and that universities need to lift their game in supporting students.
More students are going to university than before, but those at risk of dropping out need more help
Andrew Norton (The Conversation Australia, 17/06/2019)
Enrolments to Australian public universities boomed during the last decade. This was due to a government policy known as “demand driven funding”, which between 2012 and 2017 allowed universities to enrol unlimited numbers of domestic bachelor-degree students.
In 2017, 45% more students started a bachelor degree than a decade earlier.
Boosting higher education participation rates, particularly for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, was one of the policy’s aims. But the Productivity Commission has today given the demand driven system a “mixed report card”.
Schools not preparing students for university or work
Robert Bolton, Education Editor (Australian Financial Review, 17/06/2019)
Falling school maths and reading scores have undercut the demand-driven policy to expand university access despite tens of billions of dollars more taxpayer funding.
A Productivity Commission review says many students from disadvantaged backgrounds are entering university "ill-prepared and struggling academically" leading to high dropout rates and leaving many of them worse off financially.
Under the 2010 demand-driven system begun by Labor governments, universities were encouraged to enrol more students with disadvantaged backgrounds, by lifting the caps on the government contribution.