Projected student enrolment growth places the Australian higher education system on the precipice of significant change, leading to philosophical debates about how the system should respond. One suggested policy change is that resources be redirected from non-research intensive regional universities to other providers.
The Liberal Party is the senior partner in any future Coalition Government, and its education spokesperson has outlined a vision for Australian higher education which contemplates the closure of some regional universities and the diminution in status of others to teaching-only institutions. However, the Liberal Party's policy proposals are likely to be countered by political and economic considerations that make them unlikely to succeed. The confidence in regional universities' continuance as both teaching and research institutions expressed in this article is presented not as an apology for their public support, but as a pragmatic demonstration that there are sufficient market and political rationales to protect and justify their presence and form.