Discuss about the Reforms in Australian Education.
Australian government has an increased interest in driving this economy to excellence through the development of the education system. The education system has currently been developed to meet a higher standard quality. The tertiary education level defines the profession in which students choose to hold in their future. Higher education level increases the knowledge on specific fields and thus raises the labor productivity (Harrington, 2017). Funding for the Australian public school is one of the reforms that have been welcomed by many parents while it has been criticized by others. This makes public schools more affordable as they are funded according to their needs (Balogh, 2017). The reform on the funding of higher education has raised many issues from parents, students, politicians and the policy makers.
The government announced a cut in the higher education funding. This is explained in the article “Universities and students lose out in ‘reform’ package” issues in May 2017 by Angel Calderon. The students lack the information of why the government could implement such a reform. This report will help create an awareness of the reason behind the policy makers implementing such a policy. The view made will be followed by certain recommendations that may be useful to the policy makers. It will be noted in this paper that the decision has been faced with resistance and thus not clear whether the legislation will be passed.
The reform package announced by the Australian government in May 2017 was to convince universities to welcome the decision of reduction in funding which was projected to save from 2 to 2.8 billion Australian dollars. If this policy went through, the fees for domestic students is expected to rise by an annual rate of 1.8% from 2017 to 2021 (Calderon, 2017). The current government’s funding is at 585 but is proposed to be reduced to 54%. This would mean an increased proportion of per student payment from 42 to 46% during this period (Croucher, 2017). The proposal is also accompanied by a reduction in the threshold for which the students starts paying their loans after school completion (Bexley, 2017). Initially, the threshold was for one employed and earning an annual salary of AU$ 54,869; his was for 2016-2017. However, this threshold is reduced to AU$ 40,000 and is expected to increase the number of debtors repayment by 180,000. This was however noted to be a disadvantage to the low-income bracket and those from poor backgrounds.
Fig: International student’s enrollment in Australia
Source: Internationaleducation.gov.au (2015)
The graph indicates an increased level of international student’s enrollment in Australian higher education institutions. This explains the increased non-government funding for higher education. However, this is expected to change if the proposal is passed. The greatest disadvantage for this reform will be to the permanent residents residing in Australia (Including the Zealanders) because they will be denied access to commonwealth supported places which will leave them with the biggest obligation of paying the full domestic school fees (Carol, 2017). For this reason, it has been noted that the rate at which these residents will defer their studies will rise until they become Australian citizens. This will be a great disadvantage to the Australian universities as most of them rely on the income raised from the international students as a form of non-government funding. The percentage of funding received from the international students was about 19% of the total spending as at 2015. The global financial crisis led to the weakening of the Australian labor market and thus a loss of full-time employment opportunities for the fresh graduates. This has accelerated the rate of frictional unemployment. The income inequality gap is rising owing to such reasons and thus the government’s objective of ensuring the presence of distribution of income is undermined.
Besides the negative impacts presumed to result from this policy implementation, it is worth noting that the government is trying to improve transparency and accountability in the universities by tying a performance-based funding program to the funding reduction proposal (Turnbull & Birmingham, 2017). For this purpose, a 7.5% of Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding has been reserved by the government. This is meant to ensure that there is improved performance in the universities by raising the need for the extra reward.
The government should change the structure of the Australian labor market such that it will be easier and fast for the fresh graduates to get jobs immediately they leave the universities. This will have a similar effect as the reduction in the earning threshold reduction; it would even be better since it would facilitate immediate commencement of the loan repayment. These repayments would be then used in offering help to other needy students. The idea of the international students paying a full domestic fees is not a productive idea as it would seem as if the government is discouraging the presence of international students in this economy. The government should therefore promote international studies by not eliminating the help that was initially given to international students. This would be enabled by allowing private institutions to offer help to students but at a controlled interest rate on the loan to avoid exploitation of students.
The funding by the government does not lower the school fees payable to the universities. The same fees will be payable, but the extra burden will be carried by the students. This explains the reason why students are not ready to welcome this funding reduction policy. The loss of commonwealth place will make the foreign students to defer their studies and this will be a big loss to the universities since it will result in loss of the non-government funding. The proposal made therefore will not only hurt the students, but also the universities. If this proposal is passed, the countries neighboring Australia will cut their demand for opportunities in their higher education institutions. Also, Australian will also find it cheaper to study overseas than in Australia.
Balogh, S. (2017). Public parents back Turnbull’s ‘fair’ education reforms. Theaustralian.com.au. Retrieved 24 August 2017, from https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/education/public-parents-back-turnbulls-fair-education-reforms/news-story/38300f823a8dac0dc66029385fd52460.
Bexley, E. (2017). Higher education reform: small changes for now but big ones to come. The Conversation. Retrieved 24 August 2017, from https://theconversation.com/higher-education-reform-small-changes-for-now-but-big-ones-to-come-76978.
Calderon, A. (2017). Universities and students lose out in ‘reform’ package. Universityworldnews.com. Retrieved 24 August 2017, from https://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20170505201144780.
Carol, E. (2017). Higher education reform. Aph.gov.au. Retrieved 25 August 2017, from https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/BudgetReview201718/HigherEducationReform.
Croucher, G. (2017). 2017 higher education reform: cuts to universities, higher fees for students. The Conversation. Retrieved 24 August 2017, from https://theconversation.com/2017-higher-education-reform-cuts-to-universities-higher-fees-for-students-63185.
Harrington, M. (2017). School reform. Aph.gov.au. Retrieved 24 August 2017, from https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BriefingBook43p/schoolreform.
Internationaleducation.gov.au. (2015). International Student Data 2015. Internationaleducation.gov.au. Retrieved 24 August 2017, from https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/International-Student-Data/Pages/InternationalStudentData2015.aspx.
Turnbull, M., & Birmingham, S. (2017). The quality reforms needed to get all Australian students ahead. Liberal Party of Australia. Retrieved 25 August 2017, from https://www.liberal.org.au/latest-news/2016/05/01/quality-reforms-needed-get-all-australian-students-ahead.