Money for brains

Wednesday 18 April 2007 10:13 AM

Whilst not at all doubting Professor Davis' assurance that the 'Melbourne Model' is targetted foremost at quality educational outcomes, it's clear that financial pressures are at least one catalyst for this considered gamble. The new approach, including as it does a significant increase in full fee paying enrolments, will inter alia deliver some measure of financial autonomy by making the university less dependent on the whims of government budget allocations. Public reaction and assessment of the move must not lose sight of this reality. 

It's fair to speculate at least on whether this venture would even be occurring, or certainly so comprehensively, had Federal governments of the past two decades funded tertiary education less sparely. To limit the pace of radical experimentation with higher education, we must redouble our efforts in calling on our political leaders to reverse the real shrinkage in funding for university places. The HECS/ full-fee debate must not be relegated to page 10. One approach which deserves consideration is a means-tested, across the board sliding scale for setting university fees. Students from the poorest families would receive a fully taxpayer funded education (appropriate for a commonwealth ). The richest would pay the full cost of their education. Academic merit would remain the core factor in the allocation of places. A truly clever country would have acted before it got to this.