Many public universities have close relationships with feeder colleges – more politely known as providing ‘pathways’ to university. Some universities have set up their own, such as Monash College or UTS’s INSEARCH. But others collaborate with private providers such as Navitas. For example, Deakin has an arrangement with the Navitas subsidary the Melbourne Institute of Business and Technology, and Macquarie with the Sydney Institute of Business and Technology.
So why don’t public universities directly offer courses to these students? There would seem to be several reasons:
1) If they took the students directly, they would have to report that they sometimes take school leavers with weak Year 12 results. Whether or not the students improve a lot in their year at the feeder college, the back door entry method allows the course to have higher apparent admission standards.
2) They aren’t equipped to do remedial work – better to clearly identify the problematic students, and have another organisation teach them in different ways.
3) They are equipped to do remedial work, but can’t do it on Commonwealth-supported rates – hence putting them in the full-fee sector.
4) This is a way of by-passing the prohibition on full-fee undergraduates, and so is profitable for the universities – whether they offer the courses themselves or pick up royalties from a private provider.
5) The private providers have different recruitment networks, and so for the international students at least outsourcing to Navitas means that the public uni will ultimately have more students than it would through its own marketing.
Possibilities (3) and (4) are most interesting from a policy perspective. With fees capped in public universities but uncapped in other institutions, it creates an incentive to shift enrolments to other institutions. In a way, it is surprising that we haven’t seen more of this kind of activity. Perhaps since the Melbourne University Private controversy the public unis have wanted to fly as far below the political radar as they can in trying to get around regulatory restrictions. Or maybe there is only a profitable market among students whose results are too weak to get them a subsidised place