Unis facing free-market thrust

The university sector should be thrown open to the free market, allowing private colleges to access government funding for undergraduate students, under a proposal that could cost up to $800 million, a government-commissioned report says.

The government should also fund thousands of sub-degree programs to keep poorly prepared students out of university courses until they have the ­academic skills to keep up.

The report into the funding of university places by Andrew Norton and David Kemp concludes the Rudd government’s demand-driven funding system has been a success, with student enrolments increasing by 22 per cent from 2009 to last year, from 444,000 to 541,000. While the demand-driven ­system cost $6.1 billion last year, the report says the jobs market for degree-qualified people is keeping up with supply, including in areas with skills shortages.

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