Demand-driven uni delivers pay dirt for vice-chancellors

By Leith van Onselen

I have complained previously that Australia’s universities have turned into ‘degree factories’, whereby they teach as many students as possible to accumulate Commonwealth government funding through HELP/HECS debts. At the same time, quality of teaching, and students’ ability to secure subsequent employment, remain distant priorities.

This view is evidenced by the escalation of total outstanding HELP loans, much of which will never be repaid, putting increasing pressures on the federal Budget:

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As well as the dramatic lowering of university entrance scores, suggesting that every person and their dog can now get a degree, devaluing their worth.

Indeed, the Department of Employment’s latest skills shortages report showed there were a record 1 million domestic students enrolled in a bachelor degree:

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However, bachelor degree graduate employment outcomes are falling and are at “historically low levels”:

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So there are problems with Australia’s demand-driven university system, which has grown in cost but is delivering poorer outcomes.

There is, however, one segment of society that has benefited greatly from the uncapping of university places in 2009, which led to a $2.8 billion taxpayer-funded bonanza for universities: vice chancellors.   As reported in The Australian earlier this week (here and here), vice chancellors have seen their salaries balloon since the demand-driven university system was implemented, with nine now earning more than $1 million per year:

Nine vice-chancellors earned more than $1 million each last year, with University of Sydney chief Michael Spence topping the list with a salary package of $1,385,000. [Dr Spence’s] salary package has increased by more than 60 per cent since 2010 when he earned $849,000…

Overall, the average pay for the heads of Australia’s public universities was $873,571 last year, up $30,000 on 2014.

Only three vice-chancellors had packages of less than $600,000…

“In my judgment, having a university vice-chancellor paid more than the head of a major budget area in government … ­appears problematic,” [Remuneration expert John Egan] said…

Compared with British vice-chancellors, Australian university heads are on a good wicket. An analysis by Times Higher Education reveals that Oxford’s Andrew Hamilton received, £462,000 ($799,000) in 2014-15, including pension, less than 21 of his Australian colleagues. Leszek Borysiewicz of Cambridge received just $597,000, slightly more than Scott Bowman from Central Queensland University but less than Jan Thomas from the University of Southern Queensland.

Nice work if you can get it!

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  1. ALP ignores what happens in other nations such as Germany and Singapore.

    With the pink batts they even ignored what happened in NZ!

    You can let immigrants in without dumbing down degrees – just charge them $75k each for a PR visa.

    English? A great chunk of them cheat on the English exam to come here and bribe professors once they get here.

    Not that I am in favor of immigration.

    Instead of paying unis, why cannot money be paid to firms to hire young Aussies instead?

    Say, $8k/year for 3 years.

    There is a scheme like that for Aussies over the age of 50. Typical Tories – help the oldies and hurt the young.

    • apprenticeships were a good idea, people actually were able to learn real skills that they could use for the rest of their lives,

  2. Don’t forget the growth in distance ed cheap online delivery profit vehicles.

    “1 million domestic students enrolled in a bachelor degree”
    Unbelievable! Seriously nuts.

    • It is a big money making business in Australia, only costs you a bit of paper of dubious value at the end and a lot of debt which in itself is a money maker for financial institutions . Win Win.

  3. Hay just like lowering credit standards to increase market depth and bring demand forward…. Uni’s can and do lower standards much to the same effect[s…

    Disheveled Marsupial…. does anyone know of a way to short that paper – ???????

    • [deliberately obtuse] Yeah – you give them their degree in a PDF – so they can print it themselves [/deliberately obtuse]

  4. Do HELP debts outstanding come up on someone’s veda report?
    ie would it impact on them taking out a loan to purchase a house?

    • No, and even mortgages don’t show up. Loan brokers have been successfully helping clients getting multiple loans on the one income for years. Each time they are able to present the client to the bank as if the client has not other mortgages.

  5. What is wrong with charging fees for qualifications?! Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees all cost more and more since the universities need to increase P/A their staff wages! IMO this increase in enrollments has a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years! So let all Australian universities take advantage of this period. After this time, the Chinese enrollment WILL drop significantly, as their Universities will improve in ranking and overpass most Australian institutes! With so many subjects and programs being offered on-line, many universities will terminate their face-to-face teaching!! University Teaching as we currently know, will be terminated! So lets make the most of it while it lasts.

    • Studying at uni nowadays seems to be less about education and more about cheating through and living in Aus. Aussie gov just a joke re these prks