ATN warns limiting demand driven system will lock out key equity groups

The Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) warns limiting the demand driven system will potentially lock out key disadvantaged groups and deny many Australians the opportunity to attend university.

The ATN strongly advocate that changes to any Higher Education policy reform must adhere to the core principles of access, equity and affordability – not elitism and exclusion.

“Go8’s proposal to limit the demand driven system will likely deny young indigenous Australians, students with a disability, regional students and economically disadvantaged students the opportunity to attend universities as the first member of their families,” says ATN Executive Director, Renee Hindmarsh.

“Data from the Department of Education and Training shows enrolments for students with a disability have increased by 73.2%, Indigenous enrolments by 58.9%, while low SES student enrolments rose by 44.9%. Attrition rates across the sector are comparable now to the rates prior to the introduction of the demand driven system, and dispels the myth from the Go8 the DDS has resulted in an increase of students not completing their degrees.

“As outlined by the Grattan Institute, ATAR is an imperfect indicator of success at university. There is some correlation between ATAR and completion, but this further reinforces why we need programs like HEPPP to better target support for students who need it.

“As stated in our submission to Driving Innovation Fairness and Excellence, uncapping sub-bachelor places would help better prepare students for university, and is a better alternative than denying them access altogether.

“We welcome greater transparency and support more information being available to students so they can make the best choice for them. 

“The impact of higher education is significant. Universities have the power to transform lives, open up new opportunities and empower people with the knowledge and skills to contribute positively to their community.

“Every student who completes university will earn an additional $1m- $1.4m over their working life, a significant proportion of which will flow back into government coffers via taxes. The focus must be completion, not exclusion. To reduce the number of people with tertiary skills is contrary to the bold ambitions of the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

“A sustainable, accessible, and affordable higher education system is crucial in building an innovative nation. If we go back to a system where bureaucrats and elite institutions decide who gets a university education, Australia will suffer,” Ms Hindmarsh says.

Read the full Op Ed article.

Media contact: Renee Hindmarsh Phone: 0416 265 038