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Four things the new minister should do on higher education

Andrew Gunn writes in The Conversation (8.10.15):

‘Future ministers can learn from the mistakes made by the Abbott government. Policy development should involve learning from these experiences and other counties where university reform has been successfully achieved.

‘First, there needs to credible analysis of the status quo followed by a clear and effective public articulation of the case for change. This should avoid conflating deregulating fees with reducing public funding.

‘Second, the proposals need to be consistent and coherent without backtracking or blackmailing. Threatening to cut research spending if you don’t get your way on tuition fees doesn’t make any minister look like they genuinely are working in the best interests of universities.

‘Third, people need to be convinced the reforms will work in practice. One way of doing this is not to do everything at once. For example, fee deregulation doesn’t necessarily have to take place at the same time as increasing the interest the government charges on student loans. A more gradual approach means the consequences of one change can be better understood before another is introduced.

‘Fourth, there is the need to build a consensus and consider the parliamentary situation to ensure a feasible framework to enable Australian universities to prosper can be implemented.’

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