My submission to the Job-ready Graduates Senate inquiry is now on the Education and Employment Committee website, but the published version has an error in Table 5, so use this version instead if interested (update 16/9: correct version now on the Senate website).*
The submission does not have a lot in it that people who have read this blog since June will not have seen before. But the submission overview summarises what I see as the three key policy errors that make Job-ready Graduates not well designed to achieve its own objectives. I have copied it in below.
This submission argues that for two key objectives, promoting the number of students graduating in fields with strong employment potential, and assisting regional universities, Job-ready Graduates runs a significant risk of producing worse outcomes than current policies (chapters 2 and 5).
For a third key objective, increasing the number of student places, Job-ready Graduates and status quo policies are likely to produce similar aggregate numbers of student places in the next few years. However, Job-ready Graduates may leave fewer places for commencing students in 2021 (chapter 3).
Three policy errors are behind the fundamental problems of Job-ready Graduates:
- Changing the overall funding rate by discipline to one based on average teaching and scholarship costs, which means that:
- There is a reduced incentive to supply student places in key disciplines (chapter 2);
- The regional universities that have unavoidable reasons for high costs are significantly disadvantaged (chapter 5).
- The evidence that student contribution levels have a major effect on student courses choices is weak (chapter 2).
- Changing the student contributions, so that that there are much wider differences between them, means that:
- The offsetting high Commonwealth contributions to fund lower student contributions mean that universities will supply fewer student places per $1 million in Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding in key disciplines the government wants to promote (chapter 2);
- It is less financially attractive for universities to take student contribution only enrolments in key disciplines the government wants to promote (chapter 3);
- Some students will have to repay debt HELP debt for much longer periods of time (chapter 4).
*I omitted to include postgraduate medical places in the allocated total; when included the result flips from over-enrolled to under-enrolled for postgraduate CSPs. Sub-bachelor and bachelor are over-enrolled. I sent the Senate a revised submission but it has not been used.