When yesterday I admired Julia Gillard’s chutzpah in stating that her voucher scheme isn’t a voucher scheme I did not expect anyone would believe it. But she has shown that if you spin brazenly enough people will believe you. Not only does the SMH buy Gillard’s non-existent distinction without negative comment, it adds an embellishment in its favour that is not in the published version of Gillard’s speech:
Ms Gillard said the change in funding model was not the student voucher system advocated by Professor Bradley.
Alas, it is exactly the voucher scheme advocated by Denise Bradley, with a slightly later starting date. Gillard has ruled out deregulating HECS price caps, leaving the system entirely reliant on the government subsidy creating the prices per student place that will be the incentives to drive a demand-driven system. For reasons explained in my recent CIS paper, I have no confidence that this will occur. Like Bradley, Gillard shows no sign that she understands this issue, much less that she has a solution to it.
At least Monash VC Richard Larkins was alert to one consequence:
Richard Larkins said abolishing caps on student numbers, while retaining them on the HECS amounts universities charged, could create “perverse incentives” to enrol more international or postgraduate students, who are not subject to price caps.