5 thoughts on “‘Rational decision making’ in higher education

  1. Wow – one throwaway line gets a whole post in response. I must try writing more such lines :-).

    But I reckon I understand better now where you’re coming from – it’s the incentives for providers, not the students, you’re focused on.

    On students’ incentives, I agree the counterproductive design of Youth Allowance/Austudy is a lot more significant than HECS. How come you’re not pushing as hard for reform here, then? Or would suggesting the government spend more money on students upset your libertarian connections?

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  2. DD – I put the ‘independent’ Youth Allowance in sarcasm marks because I think much of this is, while legal, essentially fraudulent – middle class kids living at home while picking up cash from the taxpayer. My ‘libertarian connections’ would I am sure be happy to see me advocate its abolition.

    One implication of the Cardak and Ryan research is that ‘inadequate’ YA is not having any impact on attendance rates either. It may however be having an effect on work hours and through that study time and results.

    But income support is not my main interest, and I don’t want to get caught up in side-controversies.

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  3. Andrew, I don’t think you should so lightly dismiss the Youth Allowance issue in all of this.
    You should have a look at the design of Youth Allowance before deciding that it is essentially fraudulent for young people (and probably their parents as well) to defer their study until they qualify as independent. In my opinion, an income test that effectively denies income support to young people whose parents have a combined income of less than full-time average weekly earnings (YA for a 16 year old living at home cuts out at a parental income of less than $50,000 pa) has the potential to significantly undermine successful high school completion among young people from low-income households, let alone their successful completion of university studies.
    So, while it is no doubt true that some young people from comfortable middle-class homes are able to ‘get around’ the YA parental income test by taking a year off and working full-time (and I’m sure that both you and I know kids that have done this), I would think that in the case of many lower-income families having the kids qualify as independent is a necessary prerequisite to them being able to afford to go to university in the first place.

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  4. Backroom girl – And because it is often hard to tell the two groups apart I am not getting caught up in this issue. I want to keep the issue on the microeconomic failings of the university system, rather than trying to recover a few $$ misallocated to middle-class kids.

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