Following yesterday's article regarding the UK government's recent decision to uncap student enrollment, recent news exposes that Australia's Group of Eight (Go8) universities are likely to increase tuition fees per student and decrease the number of people they enroll since their deregulation. Chairman of the Go8 and vice chancellor of the Australian National University, Ian young, believes the reform will be a "game changer" while insisting that senators must be willing to compromise with changes that may alter the debt and commonwealth subsidy proposals.
Young pressed his case by proposing that in cutting enrollment numbers into Go8, it would in fact be highly beneficial for universities who are not a part of the prestigious group. He explains that it would generate a "trickle down or a flow-across effect" because it would "free up" several intelligent and capable students to apply for these other universities. His speech focused on rallying support for the higher education policy as he likened it to a "holy grail." After the budget reform was implemented back in May, votes in the Essential poll took place immediately after and indicted significantly low support with a mere 17% backing. Furthering Young's lack of support is the Greens, Labor and Palmer United parties who believe that by raising tuition fees puts already disadvantaged people significantly further behind.
Young pitched the idea that downsizing Go8 universities would allow them the greater freedom to become excellent. He believes that "the nature of our university system forces us to be average. We have very few terrible universities, but we have no truly outstanding universities." In a deregulated market, reducing numbers and increasing cost is desirable for Young and would allow for the financial freedom to build their university excellence. However, education experts predict that non-members of Go8 will consequently have access to less funding relative to the high-status university group, which has caused serious concern among many vice chancellors. In response, Young believes that these non-Go8 universities are "much more nimble" and therefore have the capability and flexibility to strengthen their university with innovative strategies.
Given the ongoing debate in the UK between removing the cap on student numbers and its impact on mounting student debt problems, it will be interesting to see how this view in Australia develops. UK policy makers would be smart to watch closely and act decisively.