Should the Coalition re-introduce full-fee undergraduate places?

In a rare campaign departure from populism, Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne has pledged to re-introduce full-fee places for Australian undergraduates if elected.

”It is absurd that … students from overseas are able to access Australian universities, and pay full fees for doing so, but there’s no percentage of Australian students that are entitled to do the same thing,” Mr Pyne told The Age.

However as Macquarie University VC Steven Schwartz correctly points out in the same Age article, the impending abolition of enrolment caps for Australian undergraduates signficantly undermines the rationale for a separate class of full-fee places. The main justification for the Howard-era policy was that because the number of places was held down by the government (through a mix of not wanting to pay subsidies for more students and not wanting to significantly re-arrange the historical allocation of places between institutions and courses), allowing full-fee places once all the HECS places were taken slightly alleviated mismatches between supply and demand. Continue reading “Should the Coalition re-introduce full-fee undergraduate places?”