Sunday, January 07, 2007

Comparing higher education funding in NZ and Australia

There's no doubt that Australian universities receive more government funding than do their NZ counterparts. Many measures confirm this. I suspect, but am not certain, that they also receive more corporate and charitable funding too.

This latest study, commissioned by the NZ Vice Chancellors' Committee, compares NZ Universities with a select number of Australian ones. And, although it confirms what most already know, I can't help but thinking that comparing the eight richest Australian universities with all but one of NZ's eight universities skews the results of the study.

Because I can't yet find the actual report online, I can't see what approach was adopted however the sampling may affect its credibility.

It's very difficult to compare public funding across the Tasman. GDP figures are available, but the published material for NZ needs to be disgregated to identify only the public funding for university operating expenses (i.e. excluding all other funding for students and other parts of the tertiary sector). This very point is made in the report linked to above (page 98, para 389).

Although I believe more funding for Universities may well be justified and beneficial, I can't yet see where it should come from or why?

Hat tip: The Thorndon Bubble


Chris said...

But how do participation rates compare? Arguably you could increase per-student funding in NZ universities by capping the numbers (as used to be the case) but would that be a better option? Not in my view anyway... Other than that, where could the funding come from? I certainly haven't heard a chorus from the VC's in NZ against tax cuts!!

backin15 said...

I couldn't be bothered working it out because my memory is that NZ's is actually slightly higher (all tertiary education, not uni participation).

You're right of course re the alternatives.

I think that the VCC just wants more money for the same level of services - this appears to be a more sophisticated version of the old "leave us alone and give us more money" line.

stef said...

I actually think participation for the sake of participation is reckless. There should be multiple pathways available to students. Not everyone needs to go to university and given the costs involved, sending people down an expensive pathway that isn't suited to them is irresponsible in my opinion.

backin15 said...

I agree Stef. There's a balance that needs to be struck between providing opportunities to as many people as is reasonably possible and also meeting the needs of the labour market.