James Cook University response to the
Australian Government Higher
Education Base Funding Review
James Cook University (JCU) appreciates the opportunity to contribute to the Australian
Government’s Review of Base Funding (thereafter called The Review). This is an important
review for JCU and the sector, as there has not been a comprehensive review of the funding
for the Australian higher education sector for many years.
The University’s submission comprises three documents:
1. James Cook University response to the Australian Government Higher Education
Base Funding Review (this document)
2. JCU’s Faculty of Medicine, Health and Molecular Sciences Submission to the Higher
Education Base Funding Review Panel (Attachment 1), and
3. KPMG Report titled “Costing of University level education and training in health,
allied health and veterinary science discipline courses – James Cook University,
Curtin University, La Trobe University, and University of Sydney – March 2011”
A. Background Information for Higher Education Base Funding
The University supports the idea of a world class higher education system, however for
Australia to achieve that, there needs to be adequate public funding provided to
universities. JCU believes there are compelling reasons to increase the overall base funding
to Universities and these are outlined in the document. There are benefits for the economy
and society through enhanced productivity, workforce skill and participation, and
innovation. These are outlined effectively in the Universities Australia (UA) and the
Innovative Research Universities (IRU) submissions, both of which the University endorses
The demand driven model, to be introduced from 2012, is likely to flow more funding to the
sector through growth in places. However it is the funding per student place that continues
to be the burning issue for universities. The Background Paper to this review identifies that,
on average, only 35% of the total university revenue was direct funding for Commonwealth-
supported places. However, this is a very different story for many universities, particularly
universities located in regional areas, where opportunities for diversifying income are
limited, and the ability to attract international fee paying income is also limited. JCU, for
example has a high reliance on Base Funding, with 48% of total university revenue from this
source. Consequently, base funding per student place is a critical issue for us.
The Bradley Review proposal of 10% real increase in per student funding is a start (4.5% still
to come after taking into account funding initiatives already announced), including the long
term target of public investment in higher education of 1% of GDP, equivalent to OECD
average. We believe it is absolutely critical that funding initiatives already announced be
delivered to the sector, including revised indexation arrangements.
It is now generally accepted that there are additional costs for the provision of higher
education in regional areas. These arguments have already been outlined in JCU’s
submission to the Regional Loading Review. It is appropriate that recognition of the majority
of these costs be supported by adequate Regional Loading. However, there are some
additional costs incurred by universities located in regional areas that are directly related to
the provision of teaching, in particular the additional costs of professional placements and
clinical training in regional and remote areas. These costs are outlined below.
B. JCU Response to Higher Education Base Funding Review
1. General Principles governing the level and distribution of government
investment in higher education learning and teaching.
James Cook University is Australia’s University for the Tropics. The University is a research
intensive, regionally located, multi-campus, comprehensive university. We have a
commitment to serve our regional population in northern Queensland, but also our wider
populations in the tropics world-wide. The University is an integral part of the community,
an important community resource, significant contributor to the fiscal and knowledge
economies of our region, and provider of much of the skilled workforce of the region. We
play a leadership role in the sector for access to, and attainment of, higher education
qualifications for underserved populations, especially students from low SES backgrounds
and Indigenous students.
We support the principle that investment can be justified on both the private and public
benefits of higher education, and economic and cultural benefits.
The role of a university is broader than provision of teaching and research services, and this
is particularly the case for regionally-based institutions such as JCU. We believe it is
legitimate and essential for base funding of higher education to contribute to all the
activities (or “fabric”) of a university. This includes teaching, learning, scholarship, research,
administration, facilities and infrastructure, student services, community engagement,
industry engagement, and equity and participation costs.
Public investment in tertiary education in Australia lags behind OECD nations – Australia
0.7% while the average investment for OECD nations is 1.0%. The OECD average seems an
appropriate benchmark for overall investment in tertiary education.
Consistent with the IRU proposal, JCU, supports the current mix of public/private
investment (for JCU in 2010, the public funded component (CGS) represents 63% of the base
funding). JCU, along with the IRU, supports the Government policy to maintain capped
student contributions. The current differential Student Contribution rates have no guiding
rationale or logic, and there is little evidence that the “price” drives the students’ course
choice (although costs may determine whether or not to participate in higher education at
all). The University supports a simple Student Contribution system where all students pay
the same maximum rate, socialised across the sector so that it is equivalent to the current
proportion of the private contribution of the total cost of service provision. The Government
would then fund the variable additional amounts required to provide courses in each field.
We believe that in regional and remote areas, the level of investment required by
individuals is restraining demand for higher education and that potential students are
making economic choices to pursue employment as an alternative. This was particularly
apparent as a consequence of the GFC. JCU, like other universities, experienced increased
demand, described as a “flight to education”, following the GFC. However, the opposite
occurred with regional and remote students, where JCU experienced a drop in the
proportion of students from regional and remote areas. We believe that it was an economic
decision driven by the need to “stay on the farm” in tight economic times.
The existence of shortages of professionally qualified staff suggests that we are not meeting
the workforce needs of our region. For these reasons, there is a clear need to support
students, both in the tuition fees (via the HECS-HELP scheme), and through loans for living
and other education expenses. See further discussion in section 7 below.
Government investment in higher education is justifiable in terms of delivering
benefits to the economy, benefits to society and equity of access for students from all
socioeconomic backgrounds and should continue on this basis.
Fully implement the Bradley Review proposal of 10% real increase in per student
funding, by increasing overall funding by a further 4.5%.
A long term target of public investment in higher education of 1% of GDP,
equivalent to OECD average.
Maintain the current mix of public and private investment in Base Funding
Maintain capped Student Contributions
Introduce a flat Student Contribution rate for all disciplines, with the
Commonwealth to fund the variable amounts in each discipline
2. A globally competitive level of base funding for course quality and
The measurement of course quality is a difficult area as noted in the Base Funding Review
Background Paper. JCU would agree that staff-student ratio is not a definitive indicator in
this area, although other things being equal, it is a valid point of comparison between
The most direct, valid measures of course quality would be international accreditation
standards around professional courses. Whilst approaches such as those being trialled
under the AHELO project may provide insight, we are sceptical that it is possible to assess
the full maturity of a graduate through a relatively constrained written test.
JCU is of the view that instruments such as the AUSSE have the potential to provide valid
comparisons of student satisfaction, although we suspect from using the International
Student Barometer, that there may be cultural biases in the responses of different
nationalities. These biases merit further investigation prior to using this instrument as a
benchmark for student engagement.
JCU believes that OECD comparisons are useful as benchmark models, although none of
them provides an exemplar against which the Australian system could be judged. The form
of the current system in Australia seems to work well, it is the level of funding that is
The background paper points out that we have seen a steady rise in overall satisfaction as
measured on the CEQ instrument. This will be strongly accentuated in 2010 due to changes
to the instrument. We agree that much of this change is due to a systematic attention to
teaching and learning quality by institutions and staff over that period. It is also due to the
effects of competition and regulation in dealing with the international student market which
has seen a marked improvement in the professionalism of systems and management within
Therefore, it could be argued that the financial pressure on the system has had beneficial
effects. The downside of this is the reduction in the attractiveness of academic life as a
profession. Much of the cost of this improvement has been borne through increased
workloads for academic staff as the burden of quality assurance systems and a more
document-heavy approach to teaching has proved necessary. Similarly, workloads for
professional staff have increased due to increases in regulatory reporting and compliance
requirements. Universities have also evolved substantially over the last decade as we have
necessarily embraced improved business management practices, as the business of the
universities has become more complex. The expertise required of professional staff has also
increased as universities has become more complex.
It is also worth pointing out that in the trough in base funding between 1994-5 and 2007-8
most universities accumulated significant backlogs of deferred maintenance and capital
renewal. Much of the significant investment in ICT in this period was in fact driven by
regulatory or external requirements such as Y2K and HESA (investment in learning
management systems has been very small by comparison – perhaps 10%). Therefore, the
funding to invest in ICT that could have had more direct efficiency gains in teaching and
learning has been limited. Again, without sufficient base funding it will be difficult to make
the significant investments that will be required to achieve a revolution in the use of
technology for teaching and learning purposes.
In systems thinking terms, we have made significant productivity improvements, and now
believe that there is limited opportunity for further productivity improvements without
major investment, and without the capacity for this investment we are approaching the
capacity limits for further growth. In short, the level of activity is unsustainable. The
University is one of four universities that have commissioned KPMG to undertake a costing
exercise of our health programs, and this issue of sustainability is key to the findings (refer
The major limitations of the lack of base funding cannot be determined by a costing
exercise, as financially responsible universities only spend what they earn (ie. we “cut our
cloth”). The limitation comes as an opportunity cost – what are the things that we aren’t
doing, or could do better. These decisions do affect quality outcomes, and a higher level of
base funding would enable institutions the capacity to make different decisions to improve
the quality outcomes for students.
3. The relative costs of quality teaching and student engagement at the
Funding to cover all costs relating to the provision of teaching and learning and the
associated administration, facilities and infrastructure should be included in base funding.
Work Integrated Learning (WIL) has long been a part of Education, Social Work and many
health disciplines. However there is an increasing need to expand WIL to other programs, to
enable students to be work-ready when they complete their degrees. It is important that
WIL is done effectively and efficiently, and that both the student and employer have a good
experience, otherwise there is the potential for negative reputational impact.
There are additional costs associated with WIL. In the early years there are the costs of
professional development workshops, and in the later years there are costs associated with
placements, including coordination of placements (including development of agreements,
assessing WIL workplaces, negotiating placements and finding suitable students etc.),
assessment development, and scholarships to encourage placements.
The total funding (ie. CGS + Student Contribution) mostly reflect the funding relativities
between disciplines, with a few notable exceptions. Disciplines with professional placement
and clinical training components, have higher cost structures that other disciplines, that
aren’t necessarily reflected in the base funding. Also there are increasing costs associated
with providing education in the health disciplines (refer to the JCU Faculty of Medicine,
Health & Molecular Sciences submission at Attachment 1, and the KPMG Costing study at
Medical Loading is currently provided on a per EFTSL basis as a contribution to the costs of
clinical placement. It is an anomaly, as this funding is provided only for Medicine, and not
other disciplines with a clinical placement requirement. For Nursing, the funding for clinical
placements was rolled into the cluster rate. It is suggested that a consistent methodology be
applied, and that the cost of clinical training and professional placements be included in the
cluster rate. Assuming the cluster rate provides adequate funding for these health and other
disciplines, it is proposed that the existing Medical Loading be removed, with the funding
used to increase the cluster rates.
Specific costs relating to professional placements and clinical training are outlined below.
As outlined effectively in the Australian Council Heads of School of Social Work (ACHSSW)
submission to the Panel, social work is listed in cluster funding band 3 and student
contribution band 2 (total funding $13,980 per EFTSL ($2010)) along with disciplines such as
political science, sociology and anthropology. These other disciplines do not have the
significant professional placement education requirements expected of social work. Social
workers must be work-ready on graduation. This requires 1000 hours of supervised
professional placements with skilled social work qualified practitioners within external
agencies with considerable additional input from social work qualified university staff. This
is an accreditation requirement of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), the
costs of which have to be fully met by universities. Training in student supervision also
needs to be provided by universities for fieldwork educators. The HWA initiative has
recognized the importance of appropriately resourcing professional clinical student
placement experiences. Currently these costs are not recognised in the funding for Social
Work. The KPMG Costing Study (refer Attachment 2), supports this proposition, and clearly
identifies Social Work as the discipline most underfunded.
It is recommended that Social Work be funded at the same rate as the current allied health
disciplines (currently cluster band 5 and student contribution band 2 with total funding of
$18,229 per EFTSL ($2010)).
Clinical Psychologists have been approved to provide services under the Medicare system
since 2006. This development has led to an increased demand for clinical psychologist
training nationally. Under the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) guidance
for training and clinical psychology, one feature is the requirement that there must be at
least one qualified staff member for every 8 students, and this ratio means that to increase
student numbers, there must be a corresponding increase in staff. APAC also specify the
number of hours of supervised placement activity, which is 1000 hours for a Master of
Psychology and 1500 hours for a Doctor of Psychology. Students in both programs do the
initial placement in our on campus Psychology Clinic, where they are supervised by clinical
To optimise the efficiency and effectiveness of in-house Clinics, the University is investing in
a multi-disciplinary training clinic (eg. allied health, psychology) that will provide places for
advanced psychology students.
It is recommended that Clinical Psychology be funded at the same rate as the current allied
health disciplines (currently cluster band 5 and student contribution band 2 with total
funding of $18,229 per EFTSL ($2010)).
JCU’s Faculty of Medicine Health and Molecular Sciences have prepared a submission to the
base Funding Review and it is included in the package of documents submitted by the
University to the Review. Refer to that document for the detailed analysis and evidence in
support of the proposals. The report identified three key problems with the current base
funding model. They were:
1. The real costs of health professionals education are considerably higher than the
funding currently available through base funding;
2. Existing cluster relativities do not reflect the real distribution of resources required
for course delivery between the health disciplines; and
3. The costs of running a distributed model of health education delivery and clinical
training (common in regional contexts) are substantially higher due to the difficulties
in achieving economies of scale.
Adequate investment in clinical training, and in the academic capacity required to supervise
and manage this training, is the cornerstone of meeting the health workforce needs and
assuring high standards of quality and safety of health care. While clinical training is a
funding issue for all health disciplines, it is particularly so for the provision of clinical training
in regional areas. The KPMG Costing Study (refer Attachment 2) highlights the difference
between JCU’s costs and the costs of the other benchmark universities. JCU’s greater
funding shortfall can primarily be attributed to the costs of regional provision of clinical
JCU has provided suggestions below for a change to the funding weightings for a number of
disciplines, which will include the cost of clinical training. However, we also believe that it is
appropriate that a new loading is applied in recognition of the additional costs of clinical
training delivered in regional and remote areas. A distributed model of clinical training
reflects the increasing proportion of health care being delivered in community and primary
health care settings. It is estimated that the additional cost of distributed model of clinical
training is equivalent to a weighting of 0.1. The loading of 0.1, should be applied to all
disciplines that have clinical training or professional placement requirements, and provided
to regionally-based institutions in addition to the suggested changes to the cluster rates.
All health professional programs need to be resourced at a level that provides for the true
cost of delivering up to date, relevant and high quality curricula. The following is the
proposed funding weighting for selected health disciplines:
Discipline Current Recommended Current Recommended
Weighting Weighting Funding $ Funding $
Social Work 1.4 1.8 $13,980 $18,229
Clinical Psychology 1.6 1.8 $15,972 $18,229
Allied Health 1.8 2.2 $18,229 $22,280
(1.4 for clinical
Medicine 2.8 4.5 $28,094 $45,151
Dentistry 2.8 4.5 $28,094 $45,151
Veterinary Science 2.8 5.5 $28,094 $55,185
These weightings reflect:
a. Similar teaching cost structures for allied health, currently in cluster 3 or 5, and the
science disciplines, currently in cluster 7;
b. The inclusion of Social Work in the same cluster as Allied Health in recognition of its
similar cost structures;
c. The current need for substantial subsidy to medical teaching of domestic students,
combined with international comparisons which show Australia substantially
underfunds its medical training;
d. Even higher subsidy requirements for veterinary science arising from the fact that,
unlike medicine, the higher education sector bears the whole burden of clinical
training and clinical supervision.
One of the difficulties under the current regime is the lack of adequate funding for pre-
bachelor programs (eg. enabling courses). These are courses targeting students who need to
develop the skills required for Bachelor level study. Enabling courses are gaining importance
as pathways for students in underserved populations, and are utilised by universities as part
of the strategy to increase participation of these equity groups, required to achieve the
aspirational Government targets (ie. 20% low SES participation).
Currently, these students are funded at the relevant CGS rate. However students do not pay
Student Contribution for these subjects. Institutions are compensated somewhat for the
lack of Student Contribution for these pre-bachelor students through Enabling Loading. This
pool of funds is fixed across the sector, and the amount allocated for each student is
declining each year as the numbers of Enabling students increase each year in the sector. In
2010, the amount of Enabling loading was $2713 per EFTSL, which is only 63% of the lowest
Student Contribution band.
These places need to be uncapped. They are an important pathway for students to achieve
entry into programs that they may otherwise not be eligible for. It is therefore important to
assist universities to achieve the 20% low SES target and also for JCU to achieve our
Indigenous participation target (Compacts). Universities should continue to be funded at the
same rate as undergraduate courses in the same field. If these students are to continue to
be exempt from paying the Student Contribution, universities should be compensated at the
relevant discipline rate (old system) or standard rate (proposed new system) of Student
Contribution, to ensure quality teaching in these areas.
Over the last decade as the funding per student place has been declining, universities have
had to make tough decision regarding the allocation of resources. At JCU there has been a
continual push to improve efficiencies across all areas of the institution. There has also been
an enhanced focus on improving the quality of teaching, learning and research. There is no
doubt we have been successful in achieving the required efficiency gains, and improved
teaching and research performance. However, these successes have come at a cost to other
areas. In particular, there has been insufficient capital investment to maintain the quality of
our facilities and infrastructure, and an increase in staff workloads. The evidence for an
increase in academic staff workloads, is the increase in student:staff ratios. It is a credit to
the sector that we have been able to maintain teaching quality under these circumstances.
However, there is a limit to our capacity to keep generating productivity improvements, and
there is evidence to suggest that that limit is fast approaching, if not already reached.
University infrastructure is aging, and most of the new Government funding to support
capital works has been for new facilities or infrastructure, and not for maintaining existing
facilities and infrastructure. Most universities hold very significant building and
infrastructure assets, and with declining relative funding, it has been difficult to make the
necessary capital investment in our estate, and we, like many other universities, have
accumulated significant backlogs of deferred maintenance and capital renewal. The Capital
roll-in has been eroded over time in the general decline in funding to the sector.
Changing teaching pedagogies also require changes to teaching spaces, and use of available
technologies that will enhance the learning experience. Therefore, in addition to regular
maintenance, upgrades of facilities and infrastructure are a necessary facet of university
operations, and base funding, certainly in JCU’s case, provides the major source of funds to
undertake these works.
At JCU there has been considerable work done on improving the space utilisation of our
facilities (eg. consideration is being given to moving to trimesters), and we are doing our
best through available funding and borrowings to improve the management of our Estate,
and to improve facilities.
There is much discussion at JCU on the nexus between pedagogies, space and information
and communication technologies (ICT). We believe that investment in these areas will allow
us to achieve that next level of productivity savings, while improving teaching and learning
quality. With the current level of funding, this level of investment will prove challenging.
Moving to the Bradley recommendation of a total 10% increase in (ie. a further 4.5%) would
assist in meeting these challenges.
There is a clear relationship between the SES background of students and low retention
rates (refer Appendix 1). Universities with high proportions of students from low SES
backgrounds generally have lower average retention rates. These are typically universities
located in regional areas. The provision of services to support students is a key strategy used
by universities to attempt to reduce student attrition, and is particularly important for
universities with a high proportion of students from underserved populations. The HEPPP
funding is an important source of funding for this purpose. Student services and amenities
are also funded via base funding, with a higher reliance on base funding since the removal
of universities’ ability to charge student association fees. The introduction of the Student
Amenities Fee is therefore very important to be able to reinstate lost services.
As outlined above, research is part of the core fabric of a university. There is a direct linkage
between research and teaching. The conduct of research is also one of the defining features
of a university, informing and distinguishing university teaching, and enhancing reputation.
Research grant funding and Research Block Funding do not fully cover the costs of research
which include: the salary of principal investigators who teach and do not themselves
receive research salary from competitive grant funding; research infrastructure (incl.
research stations – Orpheus Island research Station, Canopy Crane); research facilities (incl.
Analytical Centres, research labs, research vessels (eg. James Kirby, Orpheus Island boat
etc.); and administrative support for research (eg. the Research assistants, Research Office,
and research finance activities).
Until the cost of research and research infrastructure facilities, infrastructure and
administration is fully funded, there continues to be a need to invest in research through
The costs of work integrated learning to be recognised in the cluster rate for base
Increase base funding for:
o Social Work
o Clinical Psychology
o Veterinary Science, and
o Allied Health
Scrap Medical Loading, and roll funding into the cluster rate
Introduce a new loading equivalent to a weighting of 0.1 to fund the additional costs
of clinical training delivered in regional areas (ie. distributed model)
Uncap funding for Enabling places
Continue to fund universities using the existing methodology (ie. differential cluster
rates), but with an increased $/EFTSL rate for each discipline
Increase the Enabling loading to be equivalent to relevant Student Contribution rate
4. The relative costs of teaching at the postgraduate level
The current funding arrangements for Commonwealth-supported postgraduate places (PG
C/W) are problematic. Commonwealth-supported postgraduate coursework places will
remain capped come the implementation of the demand-driven model in 2012. Therefore
there will continue to be limited places. However the number of places, as a proportion of
the total, available to each institution varies, and the rules under which these places have
been allocated or sustained have varied substantially over the past few years.
For some universities, particularly regionally-based institutions without a history of higher
education participation in the region, it is particularly difficult to attract demand for full fee
paying postgraduate coursework places. For universities like this, including JCU, it is really
important to be able to offer Commonwealth-supported PG C/W places across all disciplines
(currently not the case). The premise that all business students should be full fee paying
while there are Commonwealth-supported PG C/W places available in most other disciplines
If the CSP PG C/W places were to remain capped, then clear guidelines on the allocation of
postgraduate coursework places is required, with consistent application across the sector.
The allocation of those places should be based on an institution’s ability to attract full fee
paying postgraduate places. That is, institutions with below average parental education
levels, should be given preference.
Alternatively, all postgraduate coursework places should be offered as fee paying places,
with the exception of programs that lead to professional qualifications (per current criteria).
There are valid arguments for the higher costs associated with the provision of
postgraduate coursework programs (eg. smaller class sizes, more field work/lab work etc.).
However, due to the limited number of Commonwealth funded postgraduate coursework
places, the importance of having a simple and transparent base funding model, and the
need to avoid perverse incentives (outlined in the IRU paper), the University supports the
IRU position that postgraduate coursework should be funded at the same discipline rate as
Postgraduate coursework place to be funded at the same rate as undergraduate
places in the same discipline
Postgraduate coursework places either made available across all disciplines, with
the numbers capped, OR limited to only courses leading to a professional
5. The appropriate level of student contribution towards the cost of
higher education tuition
As noted in the responses to Section 1, and consistent with the IRU approach, JCU, supports
the current mix of public/private investment, and the Government policy to maintain
capped student contributions. JCU and the IRU recommend that the current suite of Student
Contribution rates be replaced by a single maximum charge. The single maximum should be
set to generate the same overall proportion of student contribution as is generated
Maintain the current mix of public and private investment
Introduce a flat Student Contribution rate for all disciplines, which is set at a rate to
maintain the current mix of public and private investment
6. A new base funding model
Compared to the intense competition that developed in the market for international
students, the base funding model has not brought out the same level of creativity from the
sector. However, the conservatism in the sector is not solely due to the funding model or to
inertia within the institutions themselves. Anyone who has invested in curriculum change
knows that the market, in the shape of students, parents and employers tend to be quite
conservative and this restrains creativity around teaching and learning innovation. As
competition in the online space increases, particularly from international players and private
providers, we will likely see more creativity around high quality teaching evident in the
public universities. As noted above, it is important that universities have the ability, through
reasonable base funding, to invest in this space, otherwise the ability of institutions to
engage with this will be restricted.
It is difficult for a funding model to provide incentives around standards. Clearly a loss of
reputation would lead to a loss of students and hence a loss of funding which will
concentrate the minds of institutional leaders. However, the regulatory and standards
regime that has been developed through TEQSA should provide enough assurance on this
It is very important that the base funding model is simple, transparent and responsive to
higher education providers. Some of the suggestions being proposed through this Review
would seriously put these principles at risk (ie. make it too complicated)
Experience would suggest that the competing agendas for higher education in relation to
cost-effectiveness, academic standards, economic contribution and social inclusion make it
difficult to simplify the funding model or to make it more transparent.
The current system of determining funding clusters by utilising the Field of Education code
of a subject is the most appropriate and robust system, and other than a few outliers which
should receive higher funding (detailed above), the differential funding systems works well.
Student load (EFTSL), should continue to be the volume driver for base funding.
The major problem is that the overall funding level is insufficient to meet the needs of a
quality higher education system. If all this Review does is recommend a redistribution of
funding clusters within the existing funding envelope then a great opportunity to enhance
the higher education system in Australia will have been missed.
It is possible to reduce the number of clusters, thereby simplifying the model. If a single
Student Contribution rate were implemented, then this component is fixed, and the only
variable component will be the Commonwealth Grant Scheme component. Therefore, the
need to have so many combinations of cluster/student contribution is reduced. There are a
number of groupings where the total base funding are similar, the number of groupings
could be further reduced if these were combined.
Not all the issues raised in the Base Funding Review should be addressed through the
changes to base funding. Issues around providing support for underserved students can be
funded via the HEPPP funding and components of Performance Funding; issues around the
costs of regional provision should be most effectively dealt with through adequate Regional
Loading funding; academic standards should appropriately be dealt with through TEQSA.
Challenges around providing support for research would be resolved if the cost of research
were fully-funded, until that time, there is the requirement to provide support for research
through base funding.
However, there is no funding available, other than Performance Funding (which is a very
narrow slice of the University’s remit), in recognition of an individual University’s particular
mission and the challenges in delivering on that mission. This would be useful, but
problematic, as it would be subjective. It is preferable that base funding provide sufficient
funding for Universities to deliver on their mission, which will require Universities to
prioritise the allocation of funds, but not such a level as it inhibits the provision of a quality
teaching and learning experience, as is currently the case.
Simplicity and transparency are paramount – avoid “tweaking” the funding model
to accommodate institution-specific variables, factors better dealt with through
loadings (eg. Regional loading), or other funding (eg. HEPPP)
Maintain the differential funding based on discipline of study
Maintain the student load as the volume driver of base funding
Simplify the model through rationalisation of cluster/student contribution
combinations, this can be facilitated through the introduction of a flat student
7. Other Factors and Funding Needs
While this Review is focussed on base funding for universities, there is a need to further
support students and provide incentives to graduates and organisations to address
workforce shortages, encourage employers to participate in WIL, and encourage
participation in higher education to meet the Governments aspirational participation and
attainment goals. Suggestions to address these are outlined below:
Provide support to students who are required to live away from their normal place of
residence to fulfil course requirements, such as for clinical placement or professional
placements in rural or remote communities.
Income contingent loans, similar to HECS-HELP for living and other education expenses
would be beneficial.
Implement HECS debt reductions to support graduates who accept jobs in regions where
their field has significant workforce shortages.
Tax Benefits/Tax Deductions for employers and placement providers
Provide tax credit for all employers who pay the employees’ Student Contribution (HECS)
Provide tax deductions for organisations willing to provide clinical or professional placement
to contribute to the training of health professional students and ensure graduates who are
safe to practice and work ready.
Provide support to students while living away from home during clinical and
Provide HECS-HELP style loans for students for living and other educational
Reduce HECS-HELP debts for graduates who accept jobs in regions where their field
has a significant workforce shortage
Provide a tax credit for employers who pay the employee’s Student Contribution fees
Provide tax deductions for organisations who to provide and support student
Relationship between retention rates and proportion of students from underserved populations and universities in regional locations