Tag: Australia

Guest blogger: From performance to conformance: The ‘coercive’ effect of performance-based governance systems

Dr. Peter Woelert

Dr. Peter Woelert

Dr Peter Woelert is a Research Fellow in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. He has training in sociology and philosophy. His research interests include current trends in university and research policy & governance, organizational change within universities, and organizational forms of university autonomy. 

Over recent decades, many governments have sought to comprehensively reform the system-level policy and governance arrangements for their public universities. One central element of this reform has been the strengthening of performance-based funding mechanisms, with a growing proportion of public funds being distributed to universities according to the results (or ‘outputs’) achieved by them.

A striking case in point for this trend is the Australian higher education system. Since the late 1980s, various Australian governments have developed a funding system for their universities that places paramount emphasis on the performance-based allocation of funds. Most far-reaching have been the changes to the funding of university-based research activities.

In Australia, all recurrent governmental research funding – as compared to the competitive research grant funding awarded by the two Australian research councils – is allocated to universities on the basis of an indicator-based funding formula. The key performance indicators in this regard are the number of publications, external research income, and the number of students completing research degrees such as a doctorate, and which are applied equally to all Australian universities. While indicator-based public research funds only form a relatively small proportion of the annual income of Australian universities (in between 5-10%), they are taken extremely seriously at the university level, and have had a lasting impact on institutional governance systems.

Most notably in this regard is that within the Australian university system, the reshaping of system-level funding arrangements has triggered a vertical adaptation process as a result of which various organizational levels of the university almost identically replicate the performance criteria that are applied to it from above.

This begins with the executive center of the university, which usually applies the same or nearly the same performance criteria across the university’s organizational divisions that the Australian government uses for the performance-based allocation of research funds across the entire university sector.

Hedda Guest Lecture: Australian Higher Education – some current pressures on teaching and learning

Prof. Lyn Yates  (University of Melbourne)

Prof. Lyn Yates
(University of Melbourne)

On Tuesday, September 24th, the Higher Education Masters programme welcomed guest lecturers Lyn Yates and Kate O’Connor from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. The presentation focused on current pressures on teaching and learning in Australian Higher Education.

As a setting for the lecture,  Lyn Yates begins by describing the structure and governance, and students and teaching in Australian Higher Education.  The presentation then looks at the current Knowledge Building in Schooling and Higher Education: policy strategies and effects project. The project looks at the research-teaching relationships and pressures.

Lyn Yates is Professor of Curriculum at the University of Melbourne and has recently completed six years as Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research). She is a past president of the Australian Association for Research in Education.

Kate O’Connor is a researcher on the KBP project, and is also undertaking a related PhD focused on knowledge and curriculum in newly emerging MOOCs.

Australia on top regarding total costs for studying

HSBC, an international banking organisation has examined study costs in 13 countries in terms of tuition and overall living costs to determine the most expensive countries to study in.

Their results indicate that Australia is with a relatively clear margin the most expensive country to study in – topping the list for both highest tuition fees as well as highest living costs. Australia is followed by US and UK in the list of most expensive countries, but the costs for studying in UK are over 20% lower than in Australia – from over 38,5 thousand dollars down to just over 30 thousand annually. It should also be noted that tuition fees in United Arab Emirates are also above those of UK, despite recent considerable increases in UK.

With a clear margin the cheapest country to study in is Germany, where average annual tuition is 625 dollars, and living costs account for 5650, about 40% of those in Australia.

Average cost of studying in 13 countries (Source: HSBC.com)

Average cost of studying in 13 countries (Source: HSBC.com)

Read the whole review here.

Call for applicants: MEEUC scholarships in European studies

meeucMEEUC Visiting Research Fellowships 2013-2014 programme supports visiting fellows at the Monash European and EU Centre (MEEUC) at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. This initiative enables noted international scholars, Australian and international postgraduate students to undertake research on EU themes at the MEEUC and to participate in its research, teaching and outreach activities.

For international research fellows, grants of up to A$6000 are available to assist with travel and accommodation, for periods of one month or more. For domestic (Australian) research fellows, grants of up to A$2000 are available, for periods of up to one month. Themes to be addressed include:

  • EU external relations;
  • The EU, developing countries and emerging powers;
  • Comparative regionalism;
  • Regional organizations and global governance;
  • The EU and global challenges.

Applications closest to these research themes will be privileged above others. Visiting Fellows take part in the activities of the Centre, including seminars, conferences and outreach initiatives. For application forms and further information, download more information here.

Applications deadline 31 May 2013

Guest blogger: Public vs private benefits – Who should pay for higher education in Australia?

Peter Bentley

This guest entry is written by Peter Bentley, who is a graduate of the Hedda master programme from 2009 and is currently working as a research fellow at the LH Martin Institute, the University of Melbourne in Australia in addition to being enrolled externally as a PhD candidate at CHEPS.

We all know that there is no such thing as “free higher education” (or “free” anything): someone has to pay. The question is who and how much. In Australia, private individuals contribute the majority of funding of tertiary education (55%), the sixth highest by OECD standards. In practice, most domestic students pay roughly 40% of the cost of their higher education through tuition fees. Australian citizens are able to defer payment until their annual income reaches $49,000 (41,000 Euros) through income contingent loans. By comparison, in Norway and other EU countries there is almost no private contribution. Still, Australian Government tuition fee subsidies cost around $6 billion per year and are likely to rise with growing enrolments. A recent report by Andrew Norton of the Grattan Institute, Graduate Winners: Assessing the public and private benefits of higher education suggests that the $6 billion government subsidies could achieve greater public benefit if spent on other services or simply returned to tax-payers through tax cuts (thus lowering the government funding of higher education).

In Australia, demand for higher education is not particularly sensitive to price. As tuition fees have increased, demand for higher education has remained high. Norton argues that this is due to high private returns and income contingent loans. He argues that most Australian students would enrol in their degrees even if tuition fees were substantially higher (e.g. 50%). In almost all fields, university graduates can expect significantly higher lifetime earnings than high school graduates. This also equates to substantial public benefits because graduates pay more income tax (compared to high school graduates) over their lifetime.