The “uncomfortable truth” of higher education

by Steve Randall25 Sep 2015
Improvements to the higher education system are high on the agenda for the Turnbull government’s new education minister. One of the keys to improvement of course is funding; the model and the spending. 

While many may argue that education should be free for all to encourage all Australians to achieve their potential whatever their background and finances, others argue that universities should receive more funding and that it should come from students.

Writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, the University of Sydney’s vice-principal says that he agrees that free education would be the ideal but that any assessment of future funding models needs to accept that there is an “uncomfortable truth” about Australia’s higher education system.

That truth, is that many students attending university are from the wealthier families and have been to fee-paying schools. 

Professor Michael Spence says that all funding models should be considered including more public money, higher fees or more effective use of existing funding.

However he points out that for many students from poorer backgrounds the fees are not the main issue as they are only repaid after university and are dependent on the individual’s income once they are in work. The bigger barrier for less well-off students is the cost of living while at university.

The Professor says that if Australia is to be a nation of innovation then the right funding model must be found, even if ultimately it’s concluded that additional funding is required and that it must come from students rather than government.  

 

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