A record of failure
As part of my research on higher ed, I checked out statistics on student numbers and other things collected by DEST. A particularly striking figure is that on commencements by non-overseas students. This series rises steadily until 1996 (to about 230 000) then stops.
Here’s the table
Commencements are a more sensitive indicator of responses to policy changes than student numbers, and this certainly tells the story of human capital investment under the present government, or at least in the Kemp period covered by the data set.
Over the same period, the number of Full-Time Equivalent academic staff actually declined, continuing a decline in staff-student ratios that began under Labor (the picture is worse than it looks at first glance because overseas student numbers have been rising).
So, we’ve got a smaller proportion of the population going to university, and receiving a lower-quality education. This is the same story as we got from reform of school education in the early 1990s notably under the Kennett and Olsen governments. Whatever short-run improvements in measured productivity have been extracted from micro-economic reform will be more than offset by lower investment in human capital.