Although CDBU’s focus is on British Universities, we take a keen interest in developments in other countries. Australia is of particular interest, because the loans system used in Australian higher education was used to help justify the marketisation of English universities. But now, the English example is provoking calls for even more radical change in Australia. As in England, most vice-chancellors are either silent, or actively supporting the deregulation of fees. An exception is Professor Stephen Parker, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canberra, who writes:
I send my greetings to the Council for the Defence of British Universities. We have been going through an extraordinary period in Australian higher education, where a new government, in direct violation of immediate pre-election promises, has proposed to cut funding by 20% whilst allowing universities to charge it back from the students and go further. Except for an artificial ceiling of the equivalent international student fee, there is to be no upper limit on what domestic students can be charged. On 2nd December, the Senate voted down the proposals and the government announced it would re-introduce the Bill. I am the only vice-chancellor to speak out against the proposals and seek to defend the public nature of education and the interests of tomorrow’s students.
Read Prof Parker’s trenchant criticism of fee deregulation here in which he describes Australia as ‘sleepwalking towards the privatisation of its universities’.