The end of open access to universities

I’ve had plenty of disagreements with Andrew Norton about education policy. But I couldn’t write a better response to the government’s decision to end open access to university education for young Australians than this one. So, I’ll just link to it and open comments.

30 thoughts on “The end of open access to universities

  1. Unfortunately pay-walled … so I wont be reading to the details … but I do note that the abstract includes the phrase “…differences can be observed in rates of return according to gender and discipline of study with, generally, lower returns for women and for those holding degrees in the humanities.”

    When I add to that the implications of research that take a deeper view, such as studies showing that lifetime earnings of people attending top-tier universities are indistinguishable from those of people who were accepted but did not attend, or the studies measuring the increase in skills/knowledge of business students which find that after two years of “study” the gains are statistically indistinguishable from Zero, I think my “selection bias” theory holds up pretty well.

  2. The study to which I think you refer doesn’t examine people who were accepted into top-tier universities but didn’t attend (any) university. It looks at people who were accepted into elite US universities (eg U Penn) but went to places that are merely excellent (eg Penn State). Australia doesn’t have anything like the stratification that prevails in the US: no Ivy League, and no third or fourth tier either.

    As to your first point, there is more to life than money, and people make choices accordingly.

  3. John,

    It is certainly true that “… there is more to life than money …”, and it is certainly true that for some (perhaps many) people there are significant non-commercial benefits of attending University. But there are also non-commercial benefits of reading or MOOCs (both a much cheaper alternative).

    More importantly for this debate though, that isn’t what the present disagreement – which was started by your “On average, the financial return to university education is high, and graduates earn a significant wage premium which increases over time but that people make choices accordingly.” comment – is actually about.

  4. And I think we’ll leave the debate as to whether the quality of education at (say) UQ or U.Melb differs from that at (say) University of Central Queensland (not to mention the various private colleges) to another day. My observations would lead me to a certain conclusion, but you of course may hold a different view.

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