As Rafe and others have pointed out, the US financial meltdown is giving market critics a long-awaited opportunity. Indeed, over the last few years things had grown so desperate for them that they had given up arguing that capitalism didn’t work, and instead resorted Clive Hamilton-style to claiming that it worked too well, causing unhappiness and trashing the planet.
But now the argument is swinging back to markets don’t work. The National Tertiary Education Union is jumping on this bandwagon as the Bradley committee considers the future of Australian higher education, with several submissions (including of course mine) calling for relaxing quantity and price controls.
In this week’s Higher Education Supplement of The Australian, NTEU Policy and Research coordinator Paul Kneist says:
Opening up the higher education sector to competition to give potential students greater choice no doubt echoes the calls for financial deregulation in the ’80s.
Specialised private providers with lower costs will enter the market. Student choice will increase and the cost of a higher education qualification may fall. Universities will be forced to respond if they are to remain competitive.
However, will increased competition and lower prices result in lower entry standards and a lowering of the quality of education being delivered? Will there be a proliferation of sub-prime qualifications?