Financing Higher Education: Answers from the UK

By Nicholas Barr; Iain Crawford | Go to book overview

Chapter 11

1998 An international view
Nicholas Barr (1998), 'Higher Education in Australia and Britain: What Lessons?', Australian Economic Review, Vol. 31, No. 2, June 1998, pp. 179-88.
1

Introduction*
The British and Australian university systems share common roots and common recent problems. The solutions they have adopted, however, show significant divergence.
• By introducing the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) in 1989, Australia took the right step. In contrast, the British student loan scheme, introduced in 1990, went the wrong way.
• Both countries tightened rather than relaxed central planning of higher education over the 1990s. The Dearing Committee in Britain (UK National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education 1997a, 1997b) and the government's response (UK Department for Education and Employment 1998b, 1998c) show a clear intention to persist with this strategy. The West Review's discussion paper and final report (Review of Higher Education Financing and Policy 1997, 1998) offer some hope that here, too, Australia might steal a march.

In many ways, the main lesson that Britain can offer Australia on the funding and organisation of higher education is how not to do it.

-193-

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