You may remember the backlash that flared in 2014 when then-Treasurer Joe Hockey announced that the Abbott government planned to deregulate university fees. Thankfully we’ve dodged that bullet for now, but Turnbull’s government is still developing higher education reforms, which could still see uni fees raised.
A report by the Grattan Institute this week has found that higher uni fees would pump money into research and lead to little benefits for the students who are actually paying them. Aussie unis are apparently earning up to $3.2 billion (yes, BILLION) a year more from students as they are spending on teaching, so there’s a risk that universities won’t use the extra funding to improve students’ educational experience. Makes you really have faith in the state of the world, that, doesn’t it!
“In practice, there is no guarantee that students would see the full benefits of increased funding,” the report said.
You know what? If I’m the one that has to pay tens of thousands for my course, and the one that’s gonna have to be paying off my HECS debt for the foreseeable future and even after that – I’d like to see a little benefit in it for me, wouldn’t you?
Unis want to put the money into research because it’s the kind of thing that keeps them high on prestigious international rankings lists, but the report says there’s a lack of clear evidence that says students benefit from university research programs.
The report calls for universities to be clear about where the students’ money (our money, LBR) is going and how students will benefit from increased fees. Things like unis being required to publish plans outlining improvement strategies for student experience, or proving that they spent the extra money on student services would combat our money not being used for our benefit.
Because why would we want to pay more to get the same back (or even less)? We should know exactly what we’re paying for.