The renewable energy industry as another popular burden on taxpayers

Australian public opinion has long been protectionist, with majorities agreeing with statements such as ‘Australia should continue to use tariffs to protect its industry’. But some Essential Research polling published today partially qualifies this finding.

Q. Thinking about Australian industries and the ways in which the Government can give them assistance and support – which forms of assistance and support do you think the Government should give to the following industries? (multi-response) Continue reading “The renewable energy industry as another popular burden on taxpayers”

Who should get the sandstone premium?

In The Australian yesterday Australian Catholic University VC Greg Craven argued against deregulation of student contribution amounts.

I’ll leave his equity and participation arguments for another day. But part of Craven’s objection is that he thinks the Group of Eight universities will be able to charge more than other unis, and he doesn’t like that idea.

Craven’s main argument seems to be that though Group of Eight universities argue for more funding on the basis of teaching quality, there is no guarantee that additional fee revenue will in fact be spent on teaching. Instead, Group of Eight unis will charge more because of their historical prestige and spend some of the money on other things, especially research.

Fees charged to international students certainly suggest that there is sandstone premium. I did a quick comparison of 2010 international fees in five sandstones (UQ, USyd, UMelb, UAd, UWA) and seven lower-prestige institutions (Victoria Uni, UWS, USA, ECU, Canberra, ACU). The sandstone premium ranged from 10% in education to nearly 80% in commerce/business courses. Continue reading “Who should get the sandstone premium?”

Will student demand guide higher education well?

Last week’s Age education section ran this piece suggesting that a demand-driven system of higher education wouldn’t work.

Yesterday they ran my partial op-ed response to this; it doesn’t seem to be on the Age website but it is up at the CIS website.

The point I took up was this:

The tendency of students to prefer prestigious courses such as law highlights the question of how the government will ensure a student-centred system delivers the right mix of graduates to tackle Australia’s skills crisis.

But demand for law degrees also highlights another danger. Under a demand-driven system, popular fields of study could push out other, less-popular but no less important study areas.

Some key points from my response: Continue reading “Will student demand guide higher education well?”

Sympathy and scepticism on refugees

Previous posts have suggested that though most people want strong border protection against refugees who arrive by boat, attitudes to refugees coming to Australia by official means are more positive.

A couple of surveys I am just catching up on confirm this finding. In an ANU Poll question assuming that Australia’s population was to grow via migration, respondents were asked about ‘humanitarian migrants, that is refugees’. About 60% of respondents in this context support more such migrants.

The latest Mapping Social Cohesion Survey, while finding the usual negative attitudes to boat arrivals (27% turn back boats, 13% detain and send back, 37% temporary residence only), also found that most people have positive views of refugees as such: Continue reading “Sympathy and scepticism on refugees”

Same-sex attitudes, Australia and the UK

A favourite theme of some expat gay friends living in London is how much more progressive Europe is compared to Australia on gay issues. The latest trigger was this story about how, allegedly, straight male UK uni students are now happy to kiss each other on the lips.

I’m quite willing to believe that London, or at least central London, is the gayest place on the planet. But just as data is not the plural of anecdote, a lot of well-tolerated gay men in a concentrated space doesn’t necessarily tell us a lot about attitudes overall. So I went looking for some comparable survey evidence.

The British Survey of Social Attitudes has a very similar questions in similar years to the various Australian surveys I pieced together in this post earlier this year. Continue reading “Same-sex attitudes, Australia and the UK”