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You are reading: Our expanded higher education sector is delivering, but who should pay for it?

Written by Dr Tim Pitman for The Conversation

Late last year, education minister Christopher Pyne announced a review of Australia’s demand-driven system (DDS) of higher education. Pyne wants to know if it is:

  • Increasing participation (particularly for disadvantaged students)
  • Meeting the skills needs of the economy
  • Encouraging universities to adopt “market” behaviour (innovation, choice, competition)
  • Not affecting educational quality, and
  • Financially sustainable.

Thirty of Australia’s 37 public universities have made public submissions. Analysing them helps show whether Pyne’s final decision – due in only a few weeks – will be in harmony or conflict with the sector’s advice.

Increased participation
In preparation for the DDS, universities started to accelerate domestic undergraduate enrolments in 2009. Overall, the number of undergraduate domestic students increased from around 550,000 in 2008 to over 660,000 students in 2012. This is an increase of 20%.

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