Changes afoot, but uni to preserve reputation

University of Tasmania Provost Professor Mike Calford says universities must still be able to remain attractive to international students.  Picture: MARK JESSER

University of Tasmania Provost Professor Mike Calford says universities must still be able to remain attractive to international students. Picture: MARK JESSER

AUSTRALIAN universities are expecting some changes around the deregulation of the university sector by the federal government, yet exactly what form that takes is yet to be seen, according to the University of Tasmania Provost.

Professor Mike Calford, who took up his position based at the Newnham campus last month, said the university was ``neutral'' on the subject for the moment, but it would base its reaction on the make-up of the student body.

However, he said it was vital Australian universities retained a good reputation to continue to encourage international students to the country.

``We don't have a student body that necessarily could afford higher fees so we're very much dependent upon the package that comes with those higher fees,'' Professor Calford said.

``Even the strongest universities pushing for this want a package of higher fees to be supported by appropriate financial support by those who need it and so we would have to support it in that way.

``On the other hand the university sector is a very big part of the Australian economy and we have to think carefully about not damaging that.''

Addressing the Policy Exchange in London yesterday, federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said in following on from the recent release of the Kemp Norton review into higher education, the sector required change to stay relevant internationally.

He said the review highlighted some good points and he was considering the government's response in the context of the release of the May federal budget.

National Tertiary Education Union president Jeannie Rea said changes to the current set-up would ultimately lead to students and their families paying more but getting a lower quality educational experience.

Federal Greens higher education spokeswoman Senator Lee Rhiannon said Mr Pyne had to ``come clean'' on his plans to increase student fees.

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