Competition Policy and the Future of Higher Education Institutions in Australia

Year: 2000

Author: CURTIS, D

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Various changes in government policy over the past 15 years have led to what is perceived to be a funding crisis in higher education. A broad analysis of public policy suggests that higher education is in a state of continuing change on many fronts. National Competition Policy has not been as fully implemented in higher education as it has in the VET sector or in other portfolio areas. The opportunity to press this policy further in the sector is apparent. Should this occur, institutions will be under much greater pressure than they are now. Competition among existing Australian universities has grown and there is scope for this to increase. The use of communication and information technologies (CIT) will facilitate greater competition within Australia from overseas providers and will lead to increased competition from new entrants to higher education, including media and publishing companies.

This paper reports on a study of the influence of policy changes, particularly National Competition Policy, on higher education and on consequences of those changes. It examines issues such as diversity within the sector, the use of CIT, and academic work. It presents an analysis of case studies of three profit-driven higher education providers in the United States against the policy framework outlined above. It suggests that these cases serve as a possible model for some Australian higher education providers in an increasingly diverse sector.