Showing posts with label free market. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free market. Show all posts

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Free Market in Education

Radical plan to lift graduates | The Australian
THE Rudd Government will remove caps on the number of university places and allow student demand to drive an ambitious target to raise the number of qualified graduates entering the workforce.

In flagging the most radical shakeup of the university sector since the Dawkins reforms of thelate 1980s, Education Minister Julia Gillard yesterday committed to abolishing the cap on commonwealth-supported places by 2012.

Ms Gillard emphasised that the new system, which broadly follows the Bradley review into higher education, would not involve students being given vouchers to cash in; rather, universities would be funded according to how many students they attracted. Under the government target, 40 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds will hold a bachelor or higher degree by 2025, up from 32 per cent.

To guard against course standards falling as universities expand, a new national regulator will be established to accredit providers and ensure quality.

The proposed reforms have raised concerns that the new "student-centred, demand-driven" system could hurt regional campuses, create too many graduates in unneeded skills areas and force universities to cut unpopular but perhaps worthwhile courses.

The Government is expected to announce a range of measures to counter potential imbalances when it provides funding details at the time of the May budget, including funding for the higher cost of rural provision. It has ruled out removing the cap on HECS fees charged by universities.

In a speech to be delivered in Sydney today, Ms Gillard is expected to outline the future for an expanded vocational education and training sector.

Many of the students the Government is aiming to get into university will probably be "second-chance" students who do not get into university on their school scores and have to study at TAFEs.

"Funding that meets the demands made by students, coupled with exacting targets, rigorous quality assurance, full transparency and an emphasis on equity, is the only way Australia can meet the knowledge and skills challenges confronting us," Ms Gillard told the Universities Australia conference in Canberra yesterday.

Ms Gillard's reform agenda broadly endorses the vision set out by Denise Bradley in her review released in December, which came with about $7billion of recommendations.

The Government has added five years to the Bradley participation target, extending it from 2020 to 2025. It is holding off announcing spending measures until the May budget.

Ms Gillard warned that the economic crisis would limit the capacity of the Government to increase funding in the near term.

"Budgetary constraints will affect the immediacy of our response. We can't implement it all today or tomorrow," she said.

From 2010, the Government will raise the cap on over-enrolments at universities from 5per cent to 10 per cent to allow universities to prepare for the change. Once the cap is removed, universities will be funded according to how many students they attract.