Our ‘anomalous, inconsistent and irrational’ higher education system

The SMH report of the higher education review discussion paper picks out one of its very few quotable quotes, describing the funding system as:

at best complex and at worst anomalous, inconsistent and irrational.

This will come as no surprise to readers of this blog.

There are a few instances of this kind of frank analysis. The discussion paper summarises the research on what effects increases in student charges have had on low SES groups or particular disciplines (ie, none), so we now have a government document that effectively admits that the hundreds of millions of dollars the government is spending reducing charges for maths and science students is money wasted.

The government’s rhetoric about cuts to per student expenditure is also put into context. Labor has preferred out-of-date OECD data which ends in 2004, conveniently missing the surge in spending per student since then. Here is the key sentence (p.15):

From 2005, income per place has increased and in 2006 was $15,090, or 7.2% above the 1989 level (in real terms).

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