Just when I thought that neither major party was going to bother with higher education policies, both put out statements today. The Liberal statement is here; I can’t yet find Labor’s policy on its website.
Most attention seems directed at the Coalition’s decision to cut by about two-thirds the money Labor was planning to give universities according to their enrolments of low socioeconomic status students. The higher education sector is opposed to this, but I will support it. The Coalition’s policy document observes that the main problem is not the unwillingness of the higher education sector to offer places to low SES students, but that too few people from low SES backgrounds have the necessary academic preparation to go to university. The Liberals talk about their school policies as alternatives.
I have also argued that the government’s equity policy is based on an arbitrary definition of SES and assumes, contrary to the available evidence, that low SES students have much higher academic needs than other students. The program needs to be substantially reformed as well as its funding reduced.
The Coalition is also on the right track in effectively abandoning its policy to re-introduce full-fee domestic undergraduate places, accepting the criticisms made of it: Read the rest of this entry »