EDUCATION Minister Christopher Pyne has backed calls for a debate over whether Australia should deregulate its universities and adopt the US college system.
The radical idea proposed by Adelaide University Chancellor Warren Bebbington calls for an end to the nation’s universities catering for all levels of study and for US-style colleges to be allowed to take on the undergraduate program. A deregulated system would allow unis to focus on post-graduate and doctoral research as centres for excellence and compete for elite status.
Professor Bebbington also called on the government to reform the Commonwealth grants system, currently confined to public institutions, to include private colleges and universities.
Mr Pyne told The Saturday Telegraph the ideas had merit and should be debated.
He said the government would honour its election commitments. He added he was yet to formalise a response to the Kemp-Norton review of the demand-driven system which he commissioned.
However, he said the proposals put forward by Professor Bebbington should be considered as part of a broader discussion on the future of higher education.
Professor Bebbington's statements are well worth debating
“Professor Bebbington’s statements are well worth debating,” Mr Pyne said.
“They are worthy of debating in the context of Australia having a world-class higher education system and the best education system we can offer for our students.”
Professor Bebbington, in an article written this week for a university journal, rejected the notion US colleges were “exclusive finishing schools for the wealthy” and said they offered students more diversity.
“The huge array of highly-individual undergraduate colleges is one of the glories of American higher education,” he wrote.
But he said such colleges could never be established in Australia under the current funding system.
“In the US, nearly half of all students do not go from high school to a public university of the Australian type, but instead attend teaching-only undergraduate colleges offering only bachelor degrees,” Professor Bebbington said.
“Quite simply, higher education in Australia could be transformed into the most dynamic system in the world.”
Source/Courtesy: The Daily Telegraph