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Higher education in Australia and Britain : what lessons?

Barr, Nicholas ORCID: 0000-0002-5325-2055 (1998) Higher education in Australia and Britain : what lessons? Australian Economic Review, 31 (2). pp. 179-188. ISSN 1467-8462

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1467-8462.00064


Both Britain and Australia have seen rapid, inadequately funded, expansion of student numbers, and increasing central planning. To address these problems, this paper argues (a) that students should pay via a system of income-contingent loans for the private benefits they derive from higher education, and (b) that, within a government-ordained regulatory framework, universities should be free to set fees and student numbers. In the wake of the Dearing Report in 1997, Britain is making progress on (a) by introducing income-contingent loans to cover student’s living costs. If anything, however, it is moving backwards on (b) by introducing a flat-rate fee of 25 per cent of average tuition costs, abated for poorer students. Though laudable in its equity objectives, the government’s post- Dearing policy has serious problems: it brings in no extra money in the short run; is harmful to access; is inequitable in other ways; and faces serious administrative problems. In contrast, Australia got the design of loans right ten years ago, and the West Committee’s Final Report argues for greater freedom for universities to conduct their own affairs. Once more, Australia looks set fair to give a lead.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an Article published in The Australian Economic Review 31 (2) pp. 179-188 © 1998 Blackwell Publishing. LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright © and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL ( of the LSE Research Online website.
Divisions: European Institute
LSE Health
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2008
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 01:58

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