Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Fightback!-setting the record straight where's the equity in your system Mr Baldwin?



Download PDFDownload PDF

'if >■·>

P A R L IA M E N T O F A U S T R A L IA

H O U S E OF R E P R E S E N T A T IV E S

145 KOORNANG ROAD CARNEGIE, VIC. 3163

TEL. (03) 571 3311 FAX. (03) 571 6020

DR DAVID KEMP, M.P.

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GOLDSTEIN SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION

2 December 1991

MEDIA RELEASE

FIGHTBACK! - SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

WHERE'S THE EQUITY IN YOUR SYSTEM, MR BALDWIN?

It is hypocritical in the extreme for the Government to claim there is equity in the present university arrangements in Australia when up to 30,000 qualified young Australians are unable to gain entry, the Shadow Minister for Education, Dr David Kemp, said today.

"The facts of the current arrangements speak for themselves: a study commissioned by the Department of Employment, Education and Training and carried out by the Australian Council for Educational Research found that the gap in university enrolment between students from the poorest and wealthiest backgrounds actually widened by

13 per cent during the 1980s," Dr Kemp said.

According to the study, the participation rate gap between students with poorly educated parents and those with highly educated parents had more than tripled in the past decade, said Dr Kemp.

Dr Kemp was replying to criticism by the Minister for Higher Education, Mr Baldwin, of the Coalition's Higher Education policy statement contained in the GST package.

Dr Kemp said Mr Baldwin's assertion that "institutions would obviously have an incentive to maximise their fee income" by increasing enrolments in courses that were popular but relatively cheap to teach showed the Government's cynical view of higher education institutions.

"The Government obviously doesn't trust the universities to take a responsible approach to higher education, which is why they are so regulated at the moment.

"To suggest that universities themselves would have a role in cheapening and degrading the system further shows that Mr Baldwin is hopelessly out of his depth.

"Mr Baldwin's reported remarks today show he is profoundly out of touch with developments in higher education, and is clearly blinkered by his ideology."

Dr Kemp said the centralised arrangements for higher education under the Dawkins- Baldwin regime had prevented universities from exercising any flexibility either in handling increased student numbers or in meeting student demand for courses.

"Our proposals effectively create a student market where diversity and choice will be

COMMONWEALTH

PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

paramount. The existing arrangements preclude those necessary preconditions for an effective student-consumer market."

Dr Kemp said Mr Baldwin had failed to see the immense changes taking place right in front of his eyes.

Dr Kemp quoted one of Australia's most respected figures in education, Professor Peter Karmel, who told a conference in Darwin in August that he had recently changed his views about higher education because of developments in the 1980s, and now favoured a market-oriented fee system for the following reasons:

- the reforms of 1988 changed the institutions and their relation to the system radically, so there was no going back, only forward;

- the economic environment has changed from the mixed economy of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s with its emphasis on a public/private mix to an internationally sensitive market-driven economy;

- the increased bureaucratisation of higher education flies against these trends, is endangering the quality of the institutions, and is unlikely to be sustainable;

- public funds for higher education are likely to become scarcer;

- the strength and quality of higher education in Australia requires diversity;

- and the HECS scheme provides a simple mechanism, already in existence and working, to move to a market system while maintaining access in an equitable fashion.

Dr Kemp said the Industry Commission had already branded the existing funding arrangements for higher education as "flawed" and had sought a further reference to undertake an inquiry.

"But this Government has rejected the advice of its own arm of economic reform and wont give it the reference.

"It is simply not prepared to listen to informed criticism, and Mr Baldwin's latest bleatings about equity are in the same category."

Dr Kemp said Mr Baldwin's attempted defence of the existing system was based on his refusal to acknowledge that a student market existed.

"He is simply avoiding reality when he continues to insist that this failed and discredited centralised system is working when the facts all point unanimously to the contrary."