A baby bonus boom?

A story on The Age website this afternoon, referring to the release of the ABS birth statistics for 2006, is headlined ‘New figures reveal our baby boom’. It reports:

Australian Bureau of Statistics data released today showed that 265,900 births were registered in 2006, the second highest since the record 276,400 births recorded in 1971.

The baby bonus rate changed during the year, but on my estimates that would have cost taxpayers $950 million. So did nearly a billion dollars buy us an increase in the number of babies being born?

A closer examination of the statistics suggests not. Continue reading “A baby bonus boom?”

Is there ‘huge growth’ in the cost of university administration?

In responding to a Group of Eight whinge about university funding, Julie Bishop alleged:

“There has been huge growth in the cost of university administration and, given their strong financial position, the challenge for university management is to ensure their institutions are operating more efficiently and to invest more in teaching and research.”

I agree that universities could be more efficient. But I am not sure that we are witnessing ‘huge growth’ in the cost of university administration. I don’t know of any public data that directly measures administration costs, but DEST finance statistics divide employee costs into academic and non-academic. Staff are the major expense for universities. Over the period 2002 to 2006, total enrolments increased by 9.8% and total university expenses rose by 38%. Academic staff costs increased by 48% and non-academic staff costs by 46%. This suggests that staff costs are heading up at a faster rate than other costs, but not that administration costs are blowing out relative to teaching and research costs, unless there has been a growth in central administration staff at the expense of other non-academic staff.

DEST’s staff statistics get us closer to central administrators, but without counting just them. Their numbers are mixed in with the delivery of non-administrative services, such as maintenance and security. But their total share of university employment is stable on around 19% since 2000, slightly lower than it was in the 1990s. Continue reading “Is there ‘huge growth’ in the cost of university administration?”