When should education subsidies stop?

In yesterday’s Age, Sarah Blackman, who already has university degrees in arts and education, is reported as complaining that she will have to pay full fees for an RMIT course on writing and editing (this one, I think). This makes it about ten times more expensive than a subsidised place.

The requirement to pay full fees is, as I understand, part of the Victorian government’s reforms to their vocational education system. They have lifted quantity constraints on places available to students taking initial or upgraded qualifications, but are not subsidising people taking lower qualifications than those they have already.

Higher education also has restraints on subsidies. Sometimes these relate, like Victoria, to the student: limits on the number of years of subsidy. Sometimes it relates to the course, with most postgraduate coursework degrees being offered on a full-fee basis only.

In principle, these seem like fair ways to ration limited resources. In Victoria, the savings from not subsidising a would-be triple-dipper like Ms Blackman are being redirected to people who have had far fewer opportunities. People with postgraduate qualifications have typically already enjoyed significant subsidy and are in a better position to finance further study.
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