Should the government redistribute student fees between universities?

In an AFR op-ed today (not behind a paywall – things are improving), Macquarie Uni VC Steve Schwartz suggests some egalitarianism for universities.

If fees are deregulated, the more prestigious universities would charge higher fees than others. Schwartz suggests that if they did, their government subsidy should be reduced, and redistributed to other universities.

The reason is regulatory – the new Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency is imposing standards on all universities, but it is hard for the poorer universities to match the standards of the wealthier universities.

I doubt TEQSA will require all universities to be the same. A university licence to operate depends on meeting minimum standards, not being identical to all other universities. That said, there is a tendency in the standards released to date to codify common practices, some of which are of doubtful necessity. If this continues, the universities in the best financial position to try new things will tend to set the standards over the long term. Read More »