Demand driven system improves equity, opens doors

The Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) strongly supports the continuation of the demand driven system.

ATN Executive Director, Renee Hindmarsh says the demand-driven system has opened higher education to more Australians than ever before, with strong growth in student enrolments from disadvantaged backgrounds and other key equity groups.

“Data from the Department of Education and Training shows an increase of 31.6% for domestic undergraduate enrolments across Australia between 2007 and 2014. Data from key equity groups has also shown strong growth with the number of enrolment from students with a disability increasing by 73.2%, Indigenous enrolments by 58.9%, while low SES student enrolments rose by 44.9%,” says Ms Hindmarsh.

Comparatively, ATN universities have experienced significant growth, with an increase of 28.6% of student enrolments during the same time period.

“At the core of the ATN’s mission is to provide every Australian the opportunity to pursue a world-class university education regardless of their social or economic background, ethnicity, gender or postcode.

“We understand the importance of providing the necessary support to ensure disadvantaged students have the best chance of succeeding at university; our low SES, regional and indigenous students achieve success and completion rates higher than the national average,” Ms Hindmarsh says.

“We acknowledge that the current system needs to be reviewed and welcome the discussion of expansion of uncapped places to include sub-bachelor and postgraduate courses. However, any changes to the system should not hamper our ability to maintain a sustainable higher education system which remains affordable and accessible to all.

“A quick fix solution will not solve the problem. It is only through time where we will see the full impact of the demand driven system, noting that targets to achieve 20% of low SES students attending university was set to be achieved by 2020.

“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. A sustainable, accessible, and affordable higher education system is crucial in building an innovative nation,” Ms Hindmarsh says.