Monday, May 01, 2006

Economics of higher education

Auckland University has published an analysis of its value to the Auckland region in 2005. Oddly, the report only focuses on the economic impacts of expenditure related to the existence of the University; salaries for academics, students paying rent and buying text books etc. The impact is estimated at $4.4B in 2005.

As interesting as this is, it doesn't address what I'd consider to be the much more important questions about the impact Auckland University has on the knowledge creation, labour market participation, workforce productivity, innovation etc? As it stands, this report might have been about Auckland hospital, Sky City, or the NZ Warriors. Is $4.4B a lot? Is it more than might reasonably be expected, is it more than the Auckland Theatre Company, is it more than the Auckland Blues?

Even Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon notes the limitations of the report including saying that it doesn't assess the value of research which is nevertheless "increasingly important to [Auckland Uni] ". Really, then why not assess its value?

I wonder why they bothered?

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