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Fee maxima levels must be flexible and high

Fee maxima levels must be flexible and high

Fee maxima for tertiary institutions, due to be announced in the Budget tomorrow, must be set high and flexible enough to allow institutions to determine their own future, according to the Education Forum.

Education Forum policy advisor Norman LaRocque said increasing numbers of countries were moving away from education price controls and tertiary institutions were being given the opportunity to set their own fees.

"Fee maxima are increasingly out of step with tertiary education around the world where less centralised regulation and increasing private investment is the trend. Other countries are learning the lessons of over-regulation and are moving towards more market-based solutions," he said.

"But if we are going to have fee maxima, they must be set high enough, and be sufficiently flexible, to maximise institutional freedom."

Mr LaRocque said tertiary institutions had to compete in a competitive global environment and, over time, their ability to attract and retain high-performing teaching and research staff could be eroded by fee caps.

"This is especially true given the higher education proposals announced yesterday in Australia, which will provide scope for a much better resourced tertiary education sector there," he said.

"Steve Maharey's tertiary education access aims are laudable, but constraining fee caps will do little to broaden participation in tertiary education - either generally or for traditionally disadvantaged groups.

"There are much better policies for addressing the twin challenges of adequately resourcing tertiary education and broadening participation."

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