February 15, 2019

Reallocation of Commonwealth supported places – IRU Response

An effective tertiary system will ensure that Australians can access higher education places across all levels, with a focus on gaining qualifications that lay the basis for employment and future renewal of skills.

Until 2018 bachelor qualifications were funded for all university students. The current funding cap constrains this system, but still endorses the underlying assumption of access for all with relevant need and capability.

Either side of bachelor places each university has a set number of funded places for sub-bachelor qualifications and postgraduate qualifications.  Part of the sub-bachelor allocation comes with an allocation of enabling loading for students of enabling programs.

The rationale for the allocation of places among universities is no longer clear or consistent.  The Government proposes to move to a more considered allocation in which the number of places for each university adjusts regularly to ensure the best use of the available funding.

IRU positions

1.  The allocation of places should be dynamic to ensure alignment with the program objectives.

  • There should be an initial reallocation of all places over two to three years to ensure alignment with the target outcomes for each of enabling, sub-bachelor and postgraduate places.
  • There should then be an annual reallocation of five percent of places from each category.
  • Where a university has few or no current places, it should be considered for an allocation based on need they would meet and potential to do so well.
  • Each university should determine whether it requires a minimum allocation for the allocation to be accepted.

2.  Universities should be the prime determinant of which courses funded places are used for, consistent with Government target outcomes.

3.  The criteria proposed for determining allocations are mostly suitable, with amendment to avoid duplication.

  • Allocations for enabling and sub-bachelor places should take account of information about need and demand, for a focus on raising participation where it is notably low and ensuring Australia wide access to both sets of courses.