Australia’s For-Profit Fight

Career College Central summary:

  • An Australian government report has set off a war of words over the prospect of federal support of for-profit higher education providers. A report last week by the country's Labor government reviewing the demand-driven system that allocates university places said that the sector should be thrown open to the free market, allowing private, for-profit colleges to access government funding for undergraduate students.
  • The report also asserted that the government should also fund thousands of sub-bachelor's degree programs to keep poorly prepared students out of university courses until they have the ­academic skills to keep up. Non-university providers are more expert and successful than government-funded universities are at delivering sub-bachelor programs such as diplomas.
  • The proposal received significant pushback from Universities Australia, which represents the country's mainstream universities. “The inclusion of these non-university providers in the system isn’t really a recommendation that we think can be cherry-picked. It is these institutions that are currently dominating the diploma market,” he said. “They have 20 years of experience in this, and I don’t think many universities either want to, or can, replicate this anytime soon,” Norton said.
  • Extending federal funding to for-profit non-university higher education providers is a policy "high wire act" that, if not properly controlled, could endanger the hard-won reputation of the Australian higher education sector, Universities Australia’s chief executive, Belinda Robinson, said.

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