Research summary / Essay Example

Australian Higher Education Funding

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Australian Higher Education Funding

This paper evaluates the case of higher education funding in the Australian contexts and outlines the most effective measures to be followed by the government upon domestic students to promote higher education. The argument has been triggered by two contrasting arguments on the higher education funding. Department for Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science Research and Tertiary Education (2012), is of the opinion for government continued funding of higher education in respect to the benefits expected. On the other hand, Norton (2012) illustrates a report from Grattan institute illustrating the need to reduce students’ subsidies thus translating to fee increment among domestic students.

The composition of Australians with graduate and postgraduate studies has increased tremendously, thanks to the government initiative to promote higher education through subsidised learning. Australian Higher Education is characterised by composition of domestic and international students whose fees payment and funding vary with respect to status of the student (Daly et al. 2011). Higher learning for domestic students is subsidised by the government; this has triggered long debate on the necessity for the ever growing expenditure and the benefits realised economically. International education contributes greatly to the Australian Economy as the students are entitled to pay full fees. However, of interest in this study is the domestic higher education and is evaluated in respect to the benefits realised and ought to be analysed in both contexts directly and indirectly. The Australian government has a commitment of ensuring that every Australian irrespective of their background is in a position to attain higher education (Australian government 2009). The major challenge resting upon the government is the funding procedure to ensure domestic students continue enjoying the privilege of attaining higher education. The public and private benefits depicted by higher education are immense and cannot be looked down upon with the notion of non-quantifiable benefits in economic terms (Murray 2009).

Human capital theory clearly evaluates the essence of higher education within the context of economic growth and development. The externalities realised from the investment of higher education directly have an impact to the national economy whether affecting it positively or negatively (Chapman & Lounkaew 2011). In essence, the funding of higher education cannot be wholly analysed from the one perspective, but rather from various avenues pertaining to economic growth and development and life efficiency. Higher education results to technical changes, as well as consequences within productivity growth which cannot be equated to the graduate achievements in the perception of consequences of economic growth and those for productivity of the general public. McMahon (2009) is clear on the aspect of social benefits realising greater spill overs that influence the life of every citizen technically or intellectually. Thus, the funding programme should be aimed at enhancing the accessibility of higher education amid the prevailing higher financial obligations accompanying it in respect to ensuring continuous production of human capital.

According to Education at a Glance 2012 highlights (OECD 2012), the volume of students seeking higher education has been on the rise. This is a clear indication that the cost of higher education will keep increasing and the country ought to lay strategic measures to achieve its goal of efficient higher education to its citizens. With respect to the principles of demand and supply, increasing domestic fees would amount to rendering it difficult to be accessed by some thereby lowering accessibility (Daly and Lewis 2010). Any strategic measures undertaken with the context of enhancing funding looks into making the sector accessible more and be afforded by domestic students while at the same time benefitting both the individuals and the government (Daly et al. 2011). The subsidised education among domestic students was aimed at ensuring that more students access higher education and with its removal, the result would be a number of them being unable to afford the same. It therefore falls upon the planners in the government and education stakeholders to ensure that the strategy for funding higher education does not make the situation worse. Daly and Lewis (2010) state that, cost is both explicit and implicit, thus there is need to ensure that the costs of funding higher education is analysed with a critical perspective. This will ensure that every controversial measure is discussed and evaluated prior to implementation.

Higher education progress is critical to the growth and development of human capital in any given national economy. However, funding the education process remains a major problem among students both local and international leading to drawbacks that at times even derail the education progress. Palmer (2012) illustrates arguments on the fact that funding higher education through government subsidies to domestic student as an expensive undertaking. The funding is perceived to only benefit the individual students and not the general public. Nevertheless, with higher education funding, it can be perceived as a long-term investment for the country. The fact that it is difficult to quantify the externalities of higher education does not mean that funding higher education by the government is not a noble course (Murray, 2009). On attaining human capital, the economic growth and development forge on the graduates to sustain efforts to expand it and ensure sufficiency for years to come. There is need to evaluate the context of the courses taught at higher education and analyse their worth to the national economic growth; whether positive or negative. In so doing, a critical step regarding implicit subsidies and the overall cost can be equated to elaborate on the benefits therein. Consequently, the economic aspect of funding may not enhance the lives of the general public directly but influences service delivery and economic growth (Chapman & Lounkaew 2011).). In essence, research and development expedited by institutions of higher learning like in medicine and technology impact toward solving life uncertainties at every level and standard of life.

The two contrasting arguments present the reality of policy gaps in the higher education sector that fail to illustrate the best way to fund higher education (McMahon 2009). This is in respect to ensuring the funding benefits the country rather than burdening the tax payers to maintain the system. There is need for policy formulation illustrating the proper fundamental economic trends to which higher education should address, as well as the volume of returns expected from the sector in relation to economic growth and development. Daly et al. (2011) illustrate that Higher Education is an integral undertaking in the realisation of the Government’s vision of a more robust and fairer Australia to compete internationally in all aspect of economy and education. In context, the human capital development through enhancing higher education cannot be ignored. The world is developing at higher rates with the necessity for well-placed intellectual property of a nation being a reality. The Australian Higher Education is core towards the realisation of the nation’s future goals of development. In context, the undertaken measures will constitute ensuring laying down a workable strategy towards the realisation of the same.

In conclusion, it is worth noting that subsidised education ensures students benefit from all living standards. Consequently, it would be evidentially complex quantifying the benefits of higher education outcome as there are financial and non-financial benefits. Nevertheless, all contribute towards ensuring successful economic growth and service delivery amid the fact that the benefits may not be realised promptly. The Australian government out to lay down a strategic move of ensuring the domestic higher education is funded in accordance to the necessity of the courses towards economic growth and development. This will ensure a sustainable education system capable to compete locally and international and enhance economic growth.

Reference List

Australian Government 2009, Transforming Australia’s Higher Education System, Commonwealth of Australia. <>.

Chapman, B. and Lounkaew, K., 2011, Higher Education Base Funding Review: The Value of Extremities for Australian Higher Education, Commissioned Research for the Higher Education Base funding Review. Unpublished Manuscript. < benefitsofHEreport.pdf>.

Daly, A. and Lewis, P., 2010, The Private Rate of Return to an Economic Degree in Australia: An Update Centre for Labour Market Research, University of Canberra. <>.

Daly, A., Lewis, P., Corliss, M. and Heaslip, T., 2011, The Private Rate of Return to a University Degree in Australia. Commissioned Research for the Higher Education Base Funding Review. Unpublished Manuscript. <http://www.innovation>.

Department for Industry, Innovation, Climate, Science Research and Tertiary Education, 2012. Higher Education Base Funding Review: Final Report. < Ed_FundingReviewReport.pdf>.

McMahon, 2009, Higher Learning, Greater Good: The Private and Social Benefits of Higher Education. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.

Murray, J., 2009, The Wider Social Benefits of Higher Education: What do we know about them? Australian Journal of Education, vol. 53, no. 3. Pp. 230-244.

Norton, A, 2012, Graduate winners: Assessing the Public and Private Benefits Of Higher Education. Grattan Institute. <>.

OECD 2012, Education at a Glance: Highlights, OECD Publishing. < highlights-2012-en.>.

Palmer, C., 2012, HECS Architects says Grattan Institute fee Proposal will be seen as ‘Unfair’. The Conversation, Retrieved on September 10, 2013 from < architect-says-grattan-institute-fee-proposal-will-be-seen-as-unfair-8666>.

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