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Another request for help

May 12th, 2006

Having seen the abilities of the team of crack fact(oid)checkers here, I can’t resist the temptation to ask for more help. I’m planning on writing something on higher education. My starting point is the belief that the squeeze on universities, driven in part by the desire to force them to rely more on full-fee paying domestic students, has resulted in very little growth in domestic undergraduate numbers over the decade since the government was elected. But I’m having trouble getting consistent time-series on this. This report called Selected Higher Education Research Expenditure Statistics: 2000 supports my view for the period up to 2000, but after that, looking at the DEST site, I can only find annual cross-sections that don’t seem to be collected on a consistent basis. Can anyone give me consistent time series on domestic undergraduate numbers, and commencements. Better still is there a breakdown giving the number of HECS places and the number of full-fee places supported by FEE-HELP, on a basis comparable to the statistics up to 2000?

Update I found what I was looking for on the National Union of Students website. It’s over the page and needs some formatting. Money quote:

The number of subsidised places in 2007 will be roughly the same as they were in 1997. In terms of student access to HECS places a decade of Howard Government education reforms has amounted to standing still.

This is consistent with the partial data I already had.
The most recent data on full-fee places I could find was for 2002, when there about 6000 full-fee undergraduate places. Presumably that’s increased, but it seems clear that, as far as expanding access to higher education goes, the last decade has been almost completely wasted while the government chased a range of (mutually inconsistent) ideological hobby horses.

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Places to Private Providers 273 478 631 745
End Funding to Marcus Oldham -65 -65 -65 -65
Priority Places to Regional Campus 210 368 486 574 574
Fully Funded Places to Replace Marginal over-enrolments 9100 15925 21044 24883
New Medical Places 234 468 702 936 1170
Growth from 2007 2800 4900
Growth from 2008 1800
Total Change In Fully Funded Places 444 10144 17526 25920 34007
34,007 EFTSU places created by BAF
32,232 EFTSU Marginal Funded Places Lost
Net Gain of 1775 EFTSU

A net increase in subsidised student places by at least 1775 EFTSU over 2002-8. This is amounts to a miniscle 0.47% growth in subsidised places.
From 2004-7 NUS’s prognosis is that from 2004 -7 BAF’s impact will be to reduce the HECS places available as universities reduce their load to avoid over-enrolment penalties. (see below). Only in 2008 does the package produce some growth.
The number of subsidised places in 2007 will be roughly the same as they were in 1997. In terms of student access to HECS places a decade of Howard Government education reforms has amounted to standing still.

Ministerial discretion over the allocation of replacement places in the phasing out of marginal funding.

The 32,232 marginally funded places (2002) will be partially replaced with 24,883 fully funded places phased in over 2005 to 2008
From 2008 universities will receive no funding for over-enrolments.

From 2006 universities that over-enrol more by than 5% of their target load will be financially penalised (due to pipeline effects some universities have reduced their load in 2004)

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  1. derrida derider
    May 14th, 2006 at 12:50 | #1

    It’s true education and training policy under this goverment has been chronically bad (and I believe the repercussions will be with us for a long time for that), but perhaps you ought to mention that the 18-25 population peaked in 1991 before noting that the number of funded places has not increased in the last decade.

  2. jquiggin
    May 14th, 2006 at 19:50 | #2

    A fair point. Can I beg for some convenient stats on this?

  3. derrida derider
    May 15th, 2006 at 14:37 | #3

    Having quickly gathered the data from the ABS (http://tinyurl.com/mambp), I see I was close but no cigar. The trouble with lodging little factoids in memory is that they either they or your memory keeps changing.

    The number of 18-25yos peaked in 1991-1992, fell again, but has staged a recovery in the 21st century so it’s now almost exactly the same as in 1992 (I wonder if DEST has noticed this recovery, BTW?). I’ll email the spreadsheet.

  4. jquiggin
    May 15th, 2006 at 17:47 | #4

    Thanks, DD

  5. Conor King
    March 20th, 2008 at 15:12 | #5

    John http://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/content.asp?page=/publications/stats/fexp.htm has some of what you need
    It is difficult to compare funding levels in detail because the funding system changed – particularly research students were separated into the RTS about 2000 when before they were simply part of teh main funding pool
    The UA data goes to 2005 since they have not updated it since I left. If you want me to help explain more of it email me and we can then talk.

    I do think your argument gets things the wrong way round – the Govt defined the places it would fund so uni supply hovers around that number; fee paying is largely irrelevant for undergraduate but to a very modest degree took up some of the slack. Nelson did push up the formal number funded which mostly took out the previous level of over supplied places – paying for them so an improvement for the unis.
    How much demand? Well the application figures are fairly flat see http://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/content.asp?page=/publications/stats/unmet/index.htm for some numbers – the school output each year is slightly growing; I would guess the number of mature applicants (first time at uni) is reducing because so many more people get there straight away compared with the 1980s; the demand growth potential is second degrees whether Bachelor, VE, or postgraduate.

  6. Conor King
    March 20th, 2008 at 15:16 | #6

    http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/higher_education/publications_resources/profiles/students_2006_selected_higher_education_statistics.htm gives you the liability status of all students 2006 (similar tables in earlier years of the STudents Series)

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