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Published on : Jul 31, 2014

Australia’s prestigious group of top eight universities, also known as the Group of Eight (Go8), has indicated plans of increasing tuition fees while reducing the number of students they enroll, a reform-backer has predicted. These decisions could be made if the universities are deregulated . 

Arguing for this decision, the chairman of Go8, and vice chancellor of the ANU, Ian Young has said that this would benefit the non-Go8 universities by freeing up students with higher capabilities to attend other educational institutions – he termed this as the ‘flow-across effect’. 

Young made a case for the removal of tuition fee caps for Australian undergraduate students during a press briefing held at Canberra at the National Press Club. He, however, conceded that Prime Minster Tony Abbott’s government’s package for higher education may not pass the Senate in its proposed form. The package comprises steps such as higher student-debt interest rates starting 2016, fee deregulation, and other such measures.

He said that deregulation could prove to be a game-changer, allowing universities to build on their strengths and reach greater excellence. Young has urged Australian senators to accept proposals for commonwealth subsidies and changes to student-debt interest rates.

In May 2014, a poll found that 58% people opposed this proposal while only 17% people backed it. Young’s speech was essentially aimed at gathering more support from the public for this proposal.

He said that Australian universities have ‘perverse’ incentives rewarding them for enrolling the maximum number of students and charging them the lowest possible fees. He said that this system needs to be altered to help universities play out their strengths.