February 19, 2019
Performance funding: implications, risks, and options
The IRU response to the Performance based funding for the Commonwealth Grant Scheme discussion paper
The Government proposal for the university by university funding cap to be indexed to population growth is contingent on meeting performance standards on student experience, graduate outcomes and equity.
It claims the increases will be tied to improvement in the quality of student outcomes, without advancing evidence of serious weakness in them at the end of a period in which all universities have increased student numbers significantly.
Funding for universities to educate students is based on the argument that each university should have similar resources to educate the students it enrolls. Each will then do what it can with the revenue to meet the needs of the students. Competition among universities is about how well each can educate, not for different resources.
On this approach performance information is a pressure applied to universities to keep them focused at ensuring that students do achieve the best outcomes possible with the available resources.
The IRU supports this outcome.
The Government’s proposal is driven by the recurring alternative argument that that there need to be direct revenue rewards and punishments to really drive the best results. On this approach, the performance information should drive funding which should lead to some universities being better resourced than others.
It would mean that students will have more or less resources targeted at them now according to the past actions of their preferred university and of past students’ choices about their future actions and assessment of their teaching.
The IRU opposes this outcome.