The Go8, which represents Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, supports the Federal Government’s aim to ensure Australia continues to maintain a high-quality university system which delivers for students, business and industry, and the economy.
Go8 Chair, Professor Dawn Freshwater, who was a member of the high level expert advisory panel which advised Government on the introduction of performance based funding for universities, said she was pleased to note that many of the recommendations made by the Go8 have been adopted by the Government.
“The Go8 has consistently supported the development of the Performance Based Funding framework on the basis that it was underpinned by clarity, simplicity and transparency,” Professor Freshwater said.
“While the measures are not all strictly objective or direct measures of university performance, they do provide focused incentives for universities to improve their already strong performance in delivering student outcomes.”
In its submission to the Expert Panel, the Go8 proposed that a performance-based funding scheme should be framed around the core measures of attrition, the participation of students from under-represented backgrounds, and graduate outcomes. More than this, however, the Expert Panel has agreed with the Go8 that the contextualisation of performance measures is critical if valid conclusions of university performance are to be drawn.
In highlighting the importance of context when assessing performance, Professor Freshwater also noted “the framework is designed to assess the relative performance of universities and to distribute funding against those criteria. Mechanisms such as this are not necessarily designed to deliver better graduates into the economy – that is something Go8 universities are already working hard for every day.”
“The staged implementation of 7.5% of university funding being allocated on a performance basis, while likely to cause some issues with budgets and planning, does give universities additional ‘skin in the game’. Being capped at 7.5%, it is also an acknowledgement that success at university is more than just graduate employment outcomes and that we must continue to support the broad range of subjects – including in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences – that produce future generations of thinkers, innovators and leaders.
“It should also be noted that the $80 million allocated for the Performance Based Funding in 2020 is not ‘new’ money as such but is coming out of savings that the Government ‘banked’ by capping university places. The fact remains that, excluding domestic student contributions paid upfront or deferred through HECS-HELP, the Go8 currently receives an average of just 35% of its total income from the Federal Government.
“Our universities will continue to remain focussed on our core business – teaching, learning and research – all of which underpin our economy and the national productivity,” Professor Freshwater said.