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Abbott’s Deregulation Of Australian Universities Is Based On Failed UK Deregulation Experience & Jeopardises Education Standards

The UK is often held up by the Federal LNP and Tony Abbott with Christopher Pyne as a exemplar of what can happen if Universities in Australia deregulated. Has shown the dangers Australian Higher Education faces, the reality in the United Kingdom demonstrates that university deregulation is bad public policy. The Cameron Conservative-Liberal coalition government in the United Kingdom deregulated fees in 2012.

This caused immense fee increases, and two latest reviews are absolutely scornful of the reform. The United Kingdom Higher Education Commission found that deregulation has provided ‘the worst of both worlds, where all parties feel that they are getting a bad deal’ and ‘where government [is] effectively funding [universities] by writing off student debt rather than investing directly in teaching grants’. When fees in the UK were deregulated they were capped at 9,000 pounds. For the 2015-16 academic year, only two universities out of 123 will not be charging 9,000 pound fees.

Australians are anxious about the public funding cut to undergraduate courses of up to 37 per cent. The Australian public in particular oppose the potential for $100,000 degrees that are the result of combining both cuts and fee deregulation. All of the analysis—from the Group of Eight to the National Tertiary Education Union—agrees that student fees would need to go up by around 30 per cent just to make up for the initial funding cut by this government. For some degrees, that figure is 60 per cent.

The commission’s second report, Regulating Higher Education, determined that deregulation has put in jeopardy the United Kingdom’s standing for higher education excellence, and called for new regulation to give students greater financial protection and to secure quality standards. These two reports are fairly clear gauges that deregulation has failed in the UK, with real consequences for students and the reputation of British universities. Yet the Abbott government wants to follow the example of the UK failure of deregulation.

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