Goodbye low cost uni, hello USA fee for all


by Chris Becker

The cat is out of the bag for all you future students (or parents on average incomes) with the Oz reporting:

THE first university to set fees under the government’s controversial deregulation plan will charge a flat price of $48,000 for a three-year undergraduate ­degree, a steep rise in what students currently pay.
The University of Western Australia, the nation’s fourth-highest ranked on some international standings, revealed it would charge an annual fee of $16,000 for the five basic undergraduate courses it offers.
That’s a pretty steep starting price (given its around $28K in the US, which is in a bubble) and about double the current HELP rate for most undergrad degrees. Graduates will now have a circa $50K debt – which is soon to be payable at market interest rates, and securitised to be sold off to private debt merchants – to start their job career.
Luckily they don’t need to save much money for a house deposit though – oh wait!
Ironically, the same paper which has been championing “a free market” in education also published this doozy (cross posted from The Times):

ALL GERMAN universities will be free of charge when term starts next week after fees were abandoned in Lower Saxony, the last of seven states to charge.

“Tuition fees are socially unjust,” said Dorothee Stapelfeldt, senator for science in Hamburg, which scrapped charges in 2012.

“They particularly discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up studies. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”

“We got rid of tuition fees because we do not want higher education which depends on the wealth of the parents,” said Gabriele Heinen-Kljajic of the Green party, the minister for science and culture in Lower Saxony.

Those damn socialist Germans! Don’t they know anything about how to run an economy or investing in your country’s future?

The road to the brilliant US tertiary education model is wide open – full speed ahead!

And the always good John Oliver (h/t Dunno)

Latest posts by Chris Becker (see all)


  1. Australian students should go over seas to study. There are plenty of good universities over seas. With Australia’s economy on the edge of collapse the uni’s are really sticking their heads out on a block. I would think they will have a drop in numbers.

    I also think to help the young people out companies should try apprenticeships again which are much better than University visa factories. As a manager I delete all CV’s from students in the IT industry as most degree’s are raped around an industry degree for which you can download all the answers online. And agencies often do it now as well, so at least with IT I advice students not to put themselves in debt. Just do the industry certs online and bypass uni’s.

    • Strange Economics

      Oligopolies (7 old universities) exercise their pricing power and double fees. Oligopolies should have the govt regulate their prices (like for Telstra, Aus Post, gas companies, etc).

      The implied result of this policy (and govt inaction on fee regulation) is an improvement in the position of jobs for the well off –
      currently there is a graduate unemployment problem of too many graduates, a big problem for the well off who have to support them (ie the liberal supporters) – luckily internships help to eliminate lower income graduates, who haven’t got parental support. – this will reduce the no of lower income graduates, and improve employment for the well off graduates who can afford the fees.

      And since universities are now a business (/visa factory) salaries for university managers will rise also.
      Win Win Win ! (for the well off).

    • CSU were the only university that I heard were offering IT certifications as part of their Masters degree courses. They currently title it as ‘preparation’ and do not mention if students are required to sit and pass industry certification to complete the course.

      The cognitive dissonance of deleting CVs from IT degree students but keeping the CVs of people who did industry certification when the answers to both may be found online is amazing.

      • Exactly! Thank god that’s not a wide spread practice. IT certificates matter only if you already got the job and want to enhance your knowledge in certain areas. Hiring someone solely on account of being IT certified is ludicrous. High quality university degree is irreplaceable unless you want to retire in the server room of some small company.

      • IT certificates matter only if you already got the job and want to enhance your knowledge in certain areas. Hiring someone solely on account of being IT certified is ludicrous.

        You’re joking right ?

        What certs an applicant may or may not hold is probably the second thing recruiters and HR use, after their degree, to cut down the list of resumes they pass on.

        About the only time IT certs are actually useful is during the application process !

      • No, I’m not. I’m MS certified since 2001 and the only time that made a difference was… never. I was asked to get ITIL certified once but that happened after I got the job. Anyone can get certified in almost anything in less than 2 weeks and fill up their CV by the end of the year.

        Yes, there is a chance that you may get pass recruiters and HR on account of being IT certified, but this is as far as you’ll go. Recruiters and HR do not hire. The second and third interviews are the ones that count, and connections of course. The final verdict is up to the techies you’ll eventually talk to and certificates won’t help you there, unless it’s an entry level position of which there are very few left.

    • I know what you mean, they have wasted all that money investing into industry, SME’s etc… how could they get it so wrong, they could have had the perfect bubble.

      Yea, Australia, land of the lucky if you are in government and real estate but that’s about all.

    • slightly_perturbed

      I agree, those silly buggers actually manufacture things to get their GDP going. Who does that, its so yesterday, why work , when you can have ‘ the wealth effect’, so much smarter and it makes everyone rich.
      If they are really smart , they would privatise their educational institutions, imagine the bonanza, not to mention the superior quality education that would be given fairly to all the students, irrespective of their social backgrund

    • Jumping jack flash


      Indeed, Western civilisation has transcended the need to know about nerdy things like mathematics, science and engineering.

      Learning stuff is so last century.

      It takes time away from the prime directive: swap houses between yourselves for ever-increasing amounts of borrowed money.

      If you really want to go to uni for that whole “student experience”, do a kitschy arts degree.

  2. Aha! Do you know what will happen?

    Bright kids who can get scholarships will go to Harvard, Princeton, Oxbridge, Caltech, Berkeley or MIT.

    Rich kids who can afford that sum will also go to Harvard, Princeton, Oxbridge, Caltech, Berkeley or MIT.

    So, who will be left to go to the UWA?

    Oh, you mean those from Asia?

      • Depends where you live…

        I have a large architectural house, on a large block, with a perennial creek through the garden – surrounded by nat park – 13 mins from the CBD – and while not cheap – didn’t cost a bomb either … haven’t over spent on cars and unimportant crap etc – over spending on kids eduction tho….

      • Indeed its looking more and more likely my kids will be singing hup holland hup instead of aussie aussie aussie oi oi oi

    • Same here … but I feel a bit sad that I moved here 10+ years ago for a better lifestyle and my kids might have to move away for a better education …

      • Is the lifestyle that much better though when you have to pay premium for basically everything to a point were society expects you to slave away all year and not whinge about it, for the fear of being a ‘bludger’?

        I prefer the leave, work-life balance and focus on life outside of work in my home country.

        Google Dutch part-time for loads of articles on this approach.

        Australian sun and beaches look great on photos but after living here for a while I cannot look at those images anymore without seeing loads of debt for the boats, jetskis and 4x4s. Not to mention the real necessities such as housing and education!

      • Funny you mention Dutch lifestyle – my sister is about to return to Oz after three years living and working in Amsterdam. Should I suggest she just stays in the Netherlands?

      • I’ve been here 5 years (also for a lifestyle change) and have young kids. Australia has by and large been a disappointment. If I sell my share in a private company I’ll probably move back to the US.

      • Depends StatSailor, I also had my reasons to leave The NL (weather, crowds, mentality, etc…)

        In the end we all make our own choices. For me I prefer what I stated above. I know lots of people who can’t live in The NL though.

        That said, I do feel that raising a family is easier in The NL from a costs point of view.

      • Dank je wel, AnonNL.

        I think she is actually fairly happy there, no special problem with Dutch mentality, but she is a researcher and her NL grant money has run out.

        I was kind of thinking along the lines of having left in 2011, when she comes back, it’s going to be a bit of a shock.

      • Coming from France 10 years ago, it WAS better here. Some things were more expensive in Oz, some were not. And you could still avoid to slave away in a job with managers expecting long working hours.
        I know what you’re saying AnonNL (and don’t feed my love for Dutch things … I frequently drool on the bike culture over there).
        The Oz lifestyle for me was not so much beaches etc but the work/life balance (work to live vs live to work) and the general care for others but it looks like our society is slowly moving away from this.
        France is now seeing a big increase in young emigration (which it never had much before) and if we keep going that way, young Australians going overseas might be going for good in increasing numbers …

      • Just a tease Dunno… 😛

        Obviously a part of the pros and cons that ultimately formed the decision to leave at some point.

        This sort of stuff touches on the things I miss:

        And this is just showing off (check the video):

        I do sense that Oz has undergone a tremendous transformation in the last decade. Its move towards a USA style society is probably what fuels my discomfort. The USA is a great country but I’m a proud social liberal (in the European, non-commie bastard sense) and thus a bit incompatible with such an outlook on life and society.

      • The problem is – emigrate to where – it’s not is rampant growth in the EU and it’s subdued in the US. So while we can emigrate to for lifestyle – work are the employment options …

        Part of it is that the EU – has being living a lifestyle supported by 60 years of deficits budgets – so maybe – that lifestyle was not sustainable…

        I think if you want a work life balance – you need to reduce expenses – smaller house, one TV one car – no pointless SUV…

      • HRHolden… I can proudly state we’re living well within our means, no debt.

        The problem is that this will become difficult when starting a family as renting will quickly stop being an option, education costs will be huge and grocery costs increase as well, just to name a few items.

        While I understand the stories about the downfall of the EU resonate quite nicely here, especially with conservatives, the reality”on the ground”, in Northern Europe is a lot less dramatic.

        It’s mostly the southern European states who have been living grossly beyond their means. The NL has reformed their welfare state considerably and is reforming more as a result of the crisis.

        Somehow people here cannot go beyond public spending = waste, rather than public spending = investment. Then again, the local examples are not exactly enticing, I’ll give you that.

        And with this we touch on the compatibility of my views with modern Oz society. Oz was not made to make me feel comfortable, I’m just a visitor, so I’m just doing the one rational thing… go somewhere I do feel comfortable and agree with things I hear in parliament, in the media, on the streets etc.

      • @Anon dude even southern europe isn’t that dire. I know plenty of people still living a charmed life, and earning euros to boot.

        The Australia is better meme is getting very old, this place is way way more crowded than a decade ago…

      • Yep – BTW – I ain’t no conservative..

        I spent a month traveling around southern EU in 2012 – wondering what in the hell drove the economy in these regional villages and towns. Then looking at (fantastic stat/data porn there, BTW) and realised that these count-ries had never heard of a surplus budget…

        That said I spend alot of time in nothern EU too and the economies there -are as you say – doing fine. And it makes sense – drive out of the village and bang a specialist medical supplies company – sitting seemingly in a paddock… so yes this makes a strong case for GOV spending = investment. I think part of the issue is in the sth gov spending = welfare.

        I’m a proponent of gov spending = investment to create jobs – rather than welfare. More like the Nth EU model.

      • Yes of course the south is to blame, they just produce all the wine but I’m sure that has no effect on their exports…

        Keep dreaming nazi simpático

      • Easy! I like the vibe of the thing in the south – that’s for sure. And the North is way too freakn rigid for me – and my lord – the weather sux.

        I was just comparing and contrasting the economic models, their apparent relative benefits and think what can Oz learn from this …..

        That said – a German mate spammed me with some Teutonic anti south-EU propaganda and did mention something about master races, TWO lost wars and a possible lack of introspection, implied by such spam… Like at least they didn’t invade, kill millions and loose – on freakn two occasions … I suggested that was much worse than getting the rest of the EU to pay for the South’s siesta’s…

      • No blame Migtronix, but there is the fact that Southern States deficits are bigger despite some great things coming out of Italy, Spain, Greece etc.

        I think it’s a bit distasteful calling people nazi sympathisers though. Uncalled for and doesn’t add anything constructive to the debate.

        If anything the Germans are great at not putting away that part of their history but keeping it firmly in their face to make sure they never go down that road again.

        And, regarding your earlier comment, from what I hear the economic crisis is not that bad “on the ground” in the southern states either. 🙂

      • Yes of course, those damn layabout southerners who celebrate about 50 saint days too many, if only they could be classless and tasteless like their money-grubbing nothern counterparts!

        Why were they ever allowed in the Union to borrow in Euros printed in Frankfurt. Oh! Wait!!!!!!

        And regarding the southern states on the ground situation, seems they’re not busy loading up the universe with more debt! Shock horror!!!!

      • True – hearing all the bad news before heading south – I sort of expected some sort of post apocalyptic situation, with zombies bashing on the car windows demanding spare croissants – wife & I kept saying – errr – It doesn’t look or feel that bad does it …

      • Wow – my last comment is awaiting moderation – bizzare – because I can’t figure out what caused it … I mean you seem to able able to getaway with, nazi simpático, f-t*ard, and toxic f*cking gollywog, ceaseless spruikbottery – but that has no bad words, gross ethnicity based generalisations or threats … odd.

      • Don’t worry about it HRH, I once received a message saying my comment had been rejected, which was resolved when I removed the phrase ‘life insurance actuary’, clearly about the vilest insult it is possible to hurl, far worse than ‘merchant banker’ or ‘real estate developer’.

        EDIT: There are probably people hanging around this site who would view being accused of ‘ceaseless spruikbottery’ as a sign of a job well done.

      • I mean you seem to able able to getaway with, nazi simpático, f-t*ard, and toxic f*cking gollywog, ceaseless spruikbottery

        Meh, some people drop hideous cultural stereotypes with nary a regard for their incessant leftoligarcy …

  3. I think that we think our unis are better than they are…

    I guess the market will decide who is right

    • Correct, let the market decide. They’ll soon discover they actually need to generate quality graduates to demand such a price.

      • Dunno, a lot of people I talk to who went to say Melbourne Uni are massively disappointed by the education they received. They are a bit like people who stored their private photos in a secure location, only to see them pop up in a very public area of the interwebs.

    • Why would those kids with rich boomer parents need to go to uni? All they need to do is learn how to pack a cone and operate the pay TV remote.

      • When Keynes said we would be working 15 hours a week this is exactly what he had on his mind. I’m sure packed a few in his day.

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        Sounds like the life! Sadly, they didn’t make enough Cheech and Chong movies to keep me entertained.

      • reusachtige –

        If you remember what happened in the last Cheech & Chong movie you watched, you’re doing it wrong.

  4. Gee, it’s a choice – Uni of West Australia for 48K or Germany and Oktoberfest for that student week of beer tasting.

  5. What an absolute disgrace. It seems like even if this government was sinking into the centre of the earth they’d still be able to find new lows.

    Social immobility here we come!

      • Yep. Because of Labor.

        An extra 20k or so is chicken feed compared to the hundreds of thousands Rudd stole and gave to the Chinese and boomers.

      • Yeah bluebird, but didn’t this mob promise to be better?

        Ah, I see it now. The word “promise” means something different to the Coalition.

        Well, Australians voted for ’em, so they get what they voted for.

        While I personally think Clive P is pretty awful, compared to most of the others, he looks pretty good.

        Can we please offer Angela Merkel a457 visa?

      • BB, your answer is a perfect example of why people are voting for Clive.

        If all we have to choose from is a menu of overpromising and underdelivering liars, then why should we vote for yours vs Clive’s or Bill’s?

    • The short-termism knows no bound.

      Let’s cut research because we don’t have Ebola or Swine flu.

      Let’s cut military because we don’t have wars at hand.

      Let’s cut police because we don’t have crimes at hand (well, not in our exclusive gated community anyway. Those who cannot enter don’t count).

      Then let’s use all the saved dollars for FHOG MkII!!

  6. “Graduates will now have a circa $50K debt – which is soon to be payable at market interest rates”

    Only if Clive Palmer and his band of Mensa members side the government in the Senate,

  7. To think there will be more pushback against more stringent policing of FIRB regulations for local real estate than this.

  8. Meh… let them wither and die if they want to import the USA model. Some Unis in large capital cities will survive by virtue of being a migration visa pathway. Others will not innovate and be punished.

    For what its worth though there are a lot of online degree providers that have put together a lot of useful content for computer science and programming. At lest this keeps a price lid on something that is actually a useful skill to have.

    • cee, You make a good point.

      I am currently completing my MBA with AIB. Its correspondence, the quality is high the workload is intense. But you make friends fast with the online forums. Its costing about a third of what a 2nd tier uni would charge. Every month the exam rooms are packed. I don’t have time to go to classes on the other side of town with kids and all the rest going on. Online study is the way forward this may be the last gasp for the Uni rent seekers.
      These sand stone Universities are like the Taxi industry with Uber sitting there ready to destroy their business model once acceptance comes from consumers and come it will

      • Yup, let them try.. and fail.

        This is actually a good thing, those that don’t innovate will whither and die.

      • I completely agree re the Uber analogy.

        For any course that can be completed by correspondence the local universities are in real trouble as they cannot offer a material advantage over international peers. MOOC like coursera, edX etc offer a fantastic variety of content that is continually being refined and improved each semester.

        That said the practical components of designing and applying laboratory experiments is a genuinely valuable and worthwhile experience that is difficult to replicate on-line. Reading about is no substitute for doing.

      • cee,

        Totally agree re: lab experiments.

        Reading about lab experiments and even doing them in high school, I thought that would be an exciting and rewarding way to spend my time.

        Five minutes into first physical chemistry lab I knew that I needed to do whatever it took to avoid setting foot in places like that ever again.

  9. Yes its interesting, why do we follow the U.S a place where 1 in five households subsists on food stamps.
    Germany is an economic super power, yet we follow this dying soon to be third world empire.

    I think I will send my kids to a German university .

      • Mining BoganMEMBER

        Mr Kodiak, a question if I could.

        What’s been the big letdown in Oz for you? The difference in what you expected and what is? For me as a born and bred it’s been the disintegration of society due to greed, excess and smugness. Oh, and leaders who should have finished their reigns in a noose. I’m just wondering what short-timers see as the big problem.

      • MB – For me, it’s exactly what you have stated. I first came here over 20 years ago as a student. Australia was the dog’s nuggets back then. Good climate, no violence (I was coming from NY in the 90s) open spaces, good weather, less difference between wealthy and poor and friendly people. I lived here for almost a year and I’ve been married to an Aussie girl (and therefore visiting on holidays, etc) for the better part of 20 years.

        The place that I came to 20 years ago has slipped a great deal, with the steepest slope in the last 5 years. We came down here to live so NYC wouldn’t end up raising my kids for me, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they want to move back after secondary school. And while I go back there frequently and am reminded about things that I don’t miss, I’m amazed at how high quality everything is for a fraction of the price of what it is here. And sadly, I think that divergence is growing.

  10. The Hon Christopher Pyne “Minister for Education” [sic]: A smarmy git milking the taxpayer while simultaneously ensuring future generations will be worse off; the minster responsible for the “creamie” uprising – thick and rich.

    The way to govern is with a distain for facts and an ideological zeal that makes religious fundies seem reasonable. To hell with the evidence!

    • If this means a reduction in the number of deranged and anemic lefties like yourself then this could be a good thing. Actually you’re worse than anemic. Useful idiots for the specufestors more like.

      • Is thinking that the German model of free Uni education is better than the US style of education, favouring the rich, leftist?

        That would probably surprise right wing Chancellor Merkel!

        On the other hand, being staunchly on the Right, and having some of the best industry brains on the planet advising her, Merkel probably understands the value of higher education as an investment. Chrissie Pyne OTOH, having graduated from uni straight to Parliament without ever having worked for a living, probably has to rely on ideology.

        You see the difference?

      • Germans do real work and are a more intelligent people.

        We are a bunch of morons. Uni is most often pearls before swine. I include myself in that I would have been better off going to tafe.

        If you want a smarter people you need to pay them more and tax them less. But we have so many roadblocks to that that it’s impossible. You’ve got carpenters and 3rd grade teachers making the same as engineers and scientists. It’s disgusting. The culture and who gets paid what needs to change before you just throw money at unis.

        But it won’t, not without something drastic happening like a house price crash. So the only path forward that keeps most people happy is to grow and hope.

      • Yup Bluey education and knowledge are clean different things, education snobbery on the other hand…

      • Yeah, how many people do arts degrees to go on into HR, or as an account executive.

        Or, Lol, a “journalist”.

        You don’t need a degree to cut and past corporate PR releases into your “news” web site. 😀

    • “You say the cream always rises to the top, I just say shit floats

      C___s are still running the earth”


  11. Europe, apart from the UK, has it all over us when it comes to making sure that university course are meaningful and easily accessible.

    You can go and do Masters courses in Germany, Scandinavia and Central Europe for relatively small sums.

    That means their universities are not cluttered with all manner of cash cow courses designed to give a degree for basic instruction following/para vocational education, as well as the usual range of ultimately meaingless para business related courses (eg the array of feckless marketing, HR, business ethics etc courses) – that of course is before we get to the joke that is the MBA course (in all its guises).

      • sorry chief I mis-typed that.

        Their universities generally are not cluttered with rubbish courses.

        Go to most Universities under the Bologna process and that still have this thing called intellectual rigour.

    • Gunna, I get your point, somewhat, but to compare the European socialist spending programs to ours doesn’t cut it. There’s A LOT of other negatives over there.
      – As is the case everywhere today, it’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, sure they may have smaller UnI fees but where is that money being transferred from to allow this? Not to mention benevolent donations from past wealthy graduates.
      – Their intellectual rigour comes from centuries of refinement. Here in ‘Straya we know how to do it best.

    • Cost Index – Germany gets it from southern Europe (Euro is vastly lower than Mark, so just on exports they make a motza)

      the scandinavians get it on their oil reserves and very robust middle ecomomy (Nokia etc)

      Theres no robbing peter to paul – HECS/HELP debt e.g is not real, its just a computer entry. Could be wiped out tomorrow….

    • You can do MBA courses in Europe at universities… but I think you will find the level of education to be quite a bit higher and drawing on other established sciences.

      Australian universities have focused on bringing in foreign currency for too long.

      • I’m not familiar with UK education, so I’d have to say no. I was mostly referring to The NL, Germany, Scandinavia.

        France has some well regarded business and public management institutions, like INSEAD, but I’m not familiar with the level of education there.

  12. So after a 5 year undergraduate course and a 5 year PhD you’ll owe in excess of 200k? Can’t imagine there will be many (local) takers. Looks like the end of an era for research in Australia.

  13. This new regime poses a interesting question for the Private Schools all over the country.

    Why would you stretch to send your kids to a top tier school for $25k pa so they can get into a Uni course and pay $50 for a degree. Or $100K for Med or Law
    Go to a public school then send your Kid to a german Uni with all the money you saved.

    • Might be handy to send your kids to an IB school.

      But it doesn’t matter whether it’s private or state-run. No one in Germany has heard of Cranbrook or Geelong Grammar.

      • Didn’t specifically know about Cranbrook having IB program, but I guess I was saying that there are some differences between state and private schools which are useful to achieve goal of study overseas. There are also a lot of differences which are less useful, if that is your primary goal.

        Suggest that the number of state schools with IB programs is not zero (nearest state primary school to me does early years program), and also that Cranbrook is not most cost effective non-state school option.

        You might be paying 80% of your school fee for a brand with no cachet where you go after leaving school. Rod77 referred to ‘top tier’ – maybe 2nd tier has no important difference to achieving goal except price.

    • The thing you need to think about is that education has been financialised by the FIRE lobby in the English speaking world in particular. Wherever the FIRE lobby financialises something the price goes up, the quality goes down, and speculation on the ‘asset’ becomes the norm. It is the same as housing.

      In the world of education the financialisation of education in mainly the english speaking world – has led to higher course fees, and the explosion in the range of meningless courses designed to provide a ‘certificate’ – seen as having social cachet and sometimes an employment advantage – for doing as little intellectual work as possible.

      It reaches its most spectacular form in the MBA where people pay thousands of dollars for something lacking in intrinsic academic substance, for what is ultimately (and is generally marketed as) an extended networking session.

      • That’s as good of a description of an MBA as I’ve ever seen. I’m ashamed to admit in good company that I’ve got one.

        You could say virtually the same things about all degrees outside mathematics or hard sciences.

      • Personally I wouldn’t exclude hard sciences or mathematics.

        But as all content is now available for free on the web in virtually every discipline, all that’s left for unis to provide is

        1) Hands on component where necessary e.g. medicince. I note that Saylor offers a free online only chemistry degree, btw, so ‘where necessary’ needs to be interpreted quite strictly.

        2) A credential

        3) Networking

        Suspect that credentials and networking value will be weakened over time (from a couple of years to a few decades), as people who did a large component of their learning via a free online method slowly attain positions with hiring power.

        Worst time in history to attempt to gouge uni students!

      • Great go get indoctrinated in absurd phenomenology! Wake me up when they throw out Kant and Fichte

  14. Watch for more crap like this sneak through largely undetected while the media and Opposition are enthralled with the anti-terror smoke screen.

  15. Tiliqua scincoides

    One thing that I know this will encourage is the rise of fraudulent degrees.

    There are very few means by which employers can check the authenticity of a degree transcript and $2,000 will buy you a fake copy of a degree in whatever you like from whatever institution you like.

    I have heard of a person who bought a fake certificate to get his dream job. He taught himself everything he needed to know to pass the interview and was sucessful. He has recently been promoted and nobody will ever know the truth. He estimates he saved himself $30K in tuition fees…

    • Solution:

      Separate the qualification aspect from the teaching aspect.

      Offer exams in key subjects at cost independent from unis. Let the unis prove they have anything else to offer apart from post nominals.

      Cut out all those bullshit group assignments at the same time.

      • +1

        I’d like to see a similar situation with trades. People should have the option of sitting exams and some practical tests.

      • Some professions do it:

        e.g. Actuaries.

        You need to prove you know some maths – up to you how, within some bounds – and then you can choose between doing actuarial studies at uni or sitting various exams at your cost. Personally I wonder whether there is value in the actuarial uni studies approach, as there are student forums full of people in those courses having difficulties largely explained by insufficient maths.

        See also PE exams for engineers in North America – resit the core part of your uni studies a couple of years into your career but exam given by professional body. If you have PE credential, other credential becomes moot.

      • Engineers would be buggered without group assignments – it also teach people to working teams. That said – engineering sorts this issue out with exams contributing to 80% of the final mark …. no way to BS/plagarise your way through that…

      • My scepticism about group assignments relates directly to my experience of doing them in an engineering degree. Little relationship with team work in real world, IMO. WOFTAM

        80% of marks in exams was also my experience, but definitely can be gamed.

    • I have heard of a person who bought a fake certificate to get his dream job. He taught himself everything he needed to know to pass the interview and was sucessful. He has recently been promoted and nobody will ever know the truth. He estimates he saved himself $30K in tuition fees…

      Er, is he performing his job to the satisfaction of his employer ?

      Does his lack of a degree carry any liability implications ?

    • I just checked a few universities (Melbourne, RMIT, Deakin, Monash, Latrobe and VUT). Melbourne, Monash and Deakin offer immediate online checks. They all offered verification subject to the student’s permission.

      • Tiliqua scincoides

        Interesting, I wonder how often that happens though. It certainly isn’t routine in some professions/industries, especially for middle management where all they really care bout is your track record.

      • There was a case last year where a hospital (in Queensland, I think) got into trouble over someone performing surgery without attending med school because they didn’t check.

        You can do a free Wharton MOOC MBA now, so if you do that you can tell people you studied at Wharton without even lying.


  16. Hmmm, As I’ve alluded to above, I believe removing Uni subsidies is a good thing in many ways. In a perfect world I don’t believe there should be any subsiding of any under-performing industry. Obviously we don’t live in a perfect world, so we should strive as a long term goal everywhere to remove subsidies. Remove rent-seeking.

    Ironically, most people here hate rent-seeking behaviour and yet we can’t see it in this case. To have the entire Australian public of which a majority aren’t Uni educated subsidise a minority seems illogical. That minority will ultimately earn more than the majority too.

    As is the case everywhere today, it’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, sure Europeans have smaller UnI fees but where is that money being transferred from and being funded from to allow this? Sovereign Wealth funds etc? Not to mention benevolent donations from past wealthy graduates. We most certainly don’t have excess funds available for this, as can be read on this entire Website everyday.

    European Uni intellectual rigour comes from centuries of refinement not the way they are subsidised.

    If our Uni’s want to charge stupid prices, let them! They’ll soon discover that if they don’t innovate and deliver they’ll die. Bout time the dead wood get cleaned out.

    Here in ‘Straya we know how to do it best apparently.

    • I believe you misunderstand the situation. The uni fee continues to be taxpayer subsidized, but the same course just got a lot more expensive. Anyone with a HECS debt will just move to another country, and they won’t have to pay a cent!! Using the ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ example, Peter is now robbed of even more money.

    • Mate it’s hardly the minority that go to university these days. Something like 90-95% of high school completions go straight into a degree at university.

      The countries who invest in their education system are the ones who come out ahead in the modern world where being able to manufacture stuff is small potatoes compared to be able to come up with new intellectual property.

    • Removing subsidies would be a good thing IMHO. The tax-payer saves as the Govt money wastage is reduced recycling back into private enterprise.

      The cost of the UnI fees would also reduce or at least remain the same.


      • There is a lot of misinformation in regard to education government subsidy. Subsidies are not removed. It is merely reduced by 20%. In exchange, universities are allowed to increase their course fee with no government control. In the case of university of Western Australia, it went up by much, much more than 20%.

        This creates the worse of both worlds : a government subsidized scheme that is grossly overpriced. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone except the university administrators.

      • If you think Universities run as efficiently as they can, you are extremely mistaken. The amount of money that gets lost in the administration, compared to where it is needed on the ground for research and teaching, is staggering.

        Uni’s need to be incentivised to get the dollars “on the ground”.

      • Ronin – “Subsidies are not removed. It is merely reduced by 20%. In exchange, universities are allowed to increase their course fee with no government control. In the case of university of Western Australia, it went up by much, much more than 20%.”

        Then that makes it even more compelling to remove subsidies all together

      • Jackson – I completely agree that Uni’s waste money. I have never asserted otherwise.

        Remove the subsidies and let them manage their own affairs. Let them compete on the quality they offer and the quality of what they produce. If they can’t, then they’ll fail. Simples.

        Quite the motivator to keep your nice educating job me-thinks!

        If on the other hand they have world class lecturers and subject material that produce world class leaders and thinkers then they’ll be able to justify the amounts charged. But remember this is ‘Straya mate and we know how to do it better…

      • @ Cost Index – one of the problems is that merit is removed from the system, and ultimately a merit-based system will always result in better outcomes. This goes for anything – you don’t get into the Olympic team because you can afford the airfares to Rio.

        Bank balance is not merit. The best researchers and teachers I came across were not from wealthy families. On merit, they rose to the top. They will be lost, and we will as a country be poorer for it.

        There is actually a massive opportunity here for the so-called Tier2 universities. They will get some white hot talent if they price themselves right. The Go8 mistakenly think that their degrees carry weight in the market – total BS.

    • There is another underlying problem here which is a qualification bubble.
      Linked to the idea that a degree increases earnings and is therefore an investment and student loans and such, is an arms race for bigger and better more expensive degrees for the CV wars.
      How many Uni degrees are actually valuable for most jobs graduates end up working in and how many are just a way to one up the competition?
      The bubble causes a disconnect between value and price and the madness (and rent) piles up.
      We need some sort of intervention in the market to fix that mess.
      As for subsidies or govt funding it depends on what you value Universities for, if they are just degree farms then subsidies make no sense. Certainly Govt treats them like degree farms.
      Personally I think a research facility not tied to pure profit motive is a valuable public good. Degrees are in part just a side effect of their academic apprentiships scheme that keeps the whole machine going.

    • Ironically, most people here hate rent-seeking behaviour and yet we can’t see it in this case.

      It would be much more accurate to say that most people hate rent-seeking behavior that they don’t benefit from themselves and that they don’t see their own rent-seeking behavior, e.g. land ownership.

  17. As a graduate of the US system, this is such a stupid thing to do. For starters, the number of universities there is much higher, and there are a number of low cost state universities which provide options.
    I went to a private college, which was expensive. More than half of the student body was on some form of financial aid- this included full and partial scholarships from the uni, full and partial external scholarships, federal grants (not debt) federal loans, and on the fringes, private student loans. Also federal work study programs. It doesn’t look like aussie unis will have much of that.
    Also, my contact hours with professors – classroom and discussion hours, plus office hour access were very very high compared with current australian university expectations- at the price paid that was an expectation. I think australian unis are going to be a little shocked when those who can afford it start opting for a better quality education elsewhere

  18. Depends where you live…

    I have a large architectural house, on a large block, with a perennial creek through the garden – surrounded by nat park – 13 mins from the CBD – and while not cheap – didn’t cost a bomb either … haven’t over spent on cars and unimportant crap etc – over spending on kids eduction tho….

  19. Its the market way!… atomized consumers make market based choices, which in turn allows industry to glean data, by which to better serve its clientele.

    Conversely as shown in America and recently in Sweden, its a good way to loot the pool and diminish educational standards.

    skippy… PE mobs running education…. sweet~

    • Exactly! I mean educare is just doing what the boss man says anyway. If I were your wife, or my sister, I’d find something meaningful to do..

  20. this is a democracy issue. All Anglo-Saxon countries (and some other continental countries like Greece, Spain, France) have undemocratic two party system (majoritarian voting system) that provides just a bit more of democracy than a single party dictatorship Soviet style.

    We cannot expect anything better as long as we keep system in which a voter must choose between lesser of two by elites served evils.

  21. Mig will maybe agree with me on this.

    1. Pay for a Udemy or similar course and learn to program. Or just buy a book and learn to program. Rails, php, iOS, Android, doesn’t matter.

    2. Do an online entrepreneurs course.

    Start building sh%t online.


    Do a trade. Plumber/sparky.

    • Question prompted by this comment:

      There are a number of ‘Master of Entrepreneurship’ degrees.

      What is their value? Some value of networking, but why not just go to a meetup group for free?

      Credential is useless – successful entrepreneurs don’t flash post-nominals around

      Content available elsewhere free –

      So, why bother if there is a greater than nominal cost?

      Genuine question, and suspect there are many other courses where the same questions could be asked.

  22. Well thats it then. The wife got a verbal offer for a position at a Netherlands uni last week 10kms from the German border. I was umming and ahhing until I read this – and its pushed me over the line. We’ll be gone by mid next year.
    She and the kids have German passports. At least the kids will learn German and can head back there for university if we do come back to Aus.
    Not 100% sure what I’ll do – 6 months or so to work it out.

  23. @Kodiak

    Interesting to come across you here as I’m basically in the same boat you were 20 yrs ago.

    I live in NY with my Aussie wife and I’m realizing that this isn’t a place to raise kids wrt to both costs and quality of life.

    Trying to figure out if we should move to Melbourne to raise kids and pursue some business opportunities.

    I’m not in any hurry as the AUD dropping and economy on the precipice mean I’m in no hurry to immigrate.

    I’m wondering what you saw as high quality here? Costs for essentials such as healthcare are unaffordable. It will cost me $15,000 yr to insure a young family of 4 and that’s with high deductibles. Taxes are higher than Australia yet I get no benefits in return.

    Public schools are shit and private is $30k a year.

    Yes there’s the rest of America but I can’t really find any big city here that isn’t a shithole.

    So I’m pretty sure you made the right choice. While quality of life may have declined in Australia the last few years I assure you the drop from the peak of the 90s in America to now is far more severe.

    • I doubt taxes are meaningfully higher, even in NY, than in Australia.

      Our current Government is busily trying to dismantle and/or cripple public healthcare, schooling – indeed, pretty much any public service.

      I spent a couple of years living in Phoenix before coming back to Australia. Cost of living (as a %age of income) is probably twice as high here as the US. Maybe a bit less if you’re coming from somewhere relatively expensive like NY.

      Compare the costs of cars, housing, food, clothes, holidays and this should become pretty obvious.

      This is before thinking about the catastrophic turn unemployment is about to take here.

      I’d probably be comfortable taking a 30% pay cut to move back to the US, and be pretty sure of maintaining an equivalent quality of life, and be much more optimistic about improving it.

      • Well yeah I’m comparing NY to Melbourne/Sydney. Being a pure consumer is obviously better here, but you need to factor in a lot more than that. There’s a reason average Australians seem far better off than average Americans.

        Yes, I have run the numbers and the taxes here are the same or higher, even on $1 million. I’m not counting GST and other “embedded” taxes though.

        And if you’re middle class in Australia with a family you get a large amount of tax back in the form of Family Tax Benefit and other entitlements. In US/NYC you get nothing.

        Add on top of this the outlandish cost for healthcare ($16k/yr for family is not an exaggeration, it’s actually published average for a family of 4 with deductibles of $2,000).

        I’m seeing this from the POV of a business owner not a salaried employee for a big corp. If you’re a well compensated professional at a huge company with great benefits you’re probably better off in the US, but be prepared to have poor work/life balance.

      • There’s a reason average Australians seem far better off than average Americans.

        Because we’re yet to be screwed by our astronomical debt levels ? 🙂

        Bear in mind we’ve had successive Governments for 15+ years who think America is the pinnacle of human development trying to replicate it here. If you want to know where Australia will be in 5-10 years, look at America today.