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A flexible and competitive higher education system



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Federal Mem ber for Deakin Shadow Minister for Education

PRESS RELEASE

c o m m o n w e a l t h

PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

February 23, 1989

A FLEXIBLE AND COMPETITIVE HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM

The Liberal and National Parties Higher Education Policy is a blueprint for a strong, flexible and dynamic higher education system in which excellence of achievement will be fostered by a "healthy and much-needed dose of competition and diversity", according to the Shadow Minister for

Education, Julian Beale.

The principal elements of the Dawkins* Plan - the Unified National System, the educational profiles, the forced amalgamations, and the requirement that institutions privately negotiate for funds with the Commonwealth

Department of Employment, Education and Training - will be scrapped by a Liberal/National Government.

The picture for higher education under the Liberal/National Government is for greater institutional autonomy, protection of academic freedom and integrity of scientific enquiry, a "progressive and dramatic" reduction in regulation and Commonwealth bureaucracy, and greater accountability through performance-based assessment and review at all levels.

"The Dawkins * Plan is a bureaucratic monster which seeks to turn universities and colleges into narrow and conformist educational clones under the direction of the Department of Employment, Education and Training.

"It reflects Labor's traditional distrust of independent thought and takes bureaucratic interference to levels which undermine the very nature of academic and intellectual life in our universities and colleges.

"There is not a shred of evidence to indicate that conformity or the pursuit of John Dawkins * 1 national goals' will produce better educational outcomes; if anything, the contrary is true.

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"Academic and intellectual freedom can never be compromised. If that happens, we will end up with universities and colleges that are little more than knowledge factories churning out identikit degrees," Mr Beale said.

A Liberal/National Government will encourage institutional competition, reduce Commonwealth regulation and devolve greater responsibility to the States, broaden the financial base of institutions, restore integrity to the system of academic research grants, and permit institutions to enrol privately-funded or privately-sponsored Australian students over and above government-funded places.

Private higher education institutions would be encouraged under a Liberal and National Government.

Our approach is to move towards more competition between institutions, less government regulation, better access to sources of private funding and a more open system of public accountability.

The major structural, organisational and administrative initiatives in the Liberal/National Higher Education Policy include:

. Federally-funded student' places, rather than being allocated directly to institutions, will be awarded directly to students through National Education Awards which will be redeemable at the institution of the students' choice. This will facilitate the development of a demand-driven pattern of enrolment and enable

Institutions to develop their own planning and expansion strategies.

. A new national assessment system which will grant National Education Awards on a competitive basis. This will be developed in consultation and co-operation with the States and institutions.

. Lifting the ban on institutions enrolling privately-funded students over and above the publicly-funded enrolments.

. Maintaining the tax deductability of donations to higher education institutions.

. Increased incentives for institutions to increase their revenues from non-government sources without jeopardising their continued entitlement to Commonwealth funding.

. Performance reviews by institution and by discipline conducted by independent assessment teams.

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Expanded contacts between higher education institutions and industry.

The establishment of new private higher institutions will be encouraged.

The integration of capital and recurrent funding, allowing institutions to plan and execute their own capital programmes. Current borrowing restrictions placed on institutions will be removed.

Institutions will be free to determine their own admission policies; staff policies including salaries and conditions of employment ? special emphases and interests? planning and insitituional development strategies? and interaction with the local community.

Greater responsibility for State Governments in planning and administering the future expansion of their higher education systems (for which they have constitutional responsibility).

The present restrictive guidelines for the Australian Research Council will be scraped in favour of less bureaucratic intrusion and support for research grants awarded on the basis of competitive excellence.

Further information: 02 251 8911 (Thursday afternoon only)

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