Discussion paper

Expand university places without blowing out budgets: the 1/1 policy for undergraduate reform

Higher education reform Undergraduates Educational achievement Educational finance University students Australia

Current funding arrangements encourage universities to keep students enrolled in Commonwealth Supported Places at the undergraduate level for as long as possible by combining multiple bachelor degree courses. The result is that instead of educating more students, Australia’s universities use the limited pool of Commonwealth funding to offer more degrees — to the same students.

This paper argues that Australia could immediately expand opportunities for university education at zero cost to the taxpayer simply by limiting Commonwealth support to one degree per course and one course per student. This ‘1/1 policy’ would fund more students to obtain one undergraduate degree instead of paying for fewer students to obtain multiple undergraduate degrees.

The 1/1 policy would flip this logic, spreading a limited number of undergraduate places among more students and potentially opening up as many as 80,000 new places. It would also incentivise students to progress to more advanced study instead of sitting through a succession of introductory classes. It is a non-disruptive education reform that would promote the more efficient use of public resources while improving educational outcomes.

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CIS Occasional Paper 186