[LINK] Universities Australia

Tom Koltai tomk at unwired.com.au
Fri Sep 9 09:33:36 AEST 2011

> -----Original Message-----
> From: link-bounces at mailman.anu.edu.au 
> On Behalf Of stephen at melbpc.org.au
> Sent: Friday, 9 September 2011 1:04 AM
> To: link at anu.edu.au
> Subject: [LINK] Universities Australia
> A productive country: The contribution of Australian universities to 
> national productivity
> Universities Australia, 
> 7th September 2011
>Executive Summary

>Increasing university funding can substantially increase national 


I had a peek at the press release.

"The reciprocal responsibility is that some increase in public per
student taxpayer funding and in permitted student contribution amounts
under HECS, of the order of 10% each, are needed to complete the
delivery of the Bradley Review vision."

"This is because the report does show that undergraduate student places
are substantially underfunded - in fact by as much as 33% on average. A
suitable reform package is the key to overcoming this challenge", Dr
Withers concluded.

This report follows close on the heels of another where the media
release states:

On the positive side, Deloitte state that the situation can indeed begin
to recover in the absence of any policy factors discouraging new

"Universities Australia believes that some current policies are
discouraging new students and impeding the potential for recovery, and
has therefore been working closely with Government to address these

"The Knight Review report presents a unique opportunity for Government
to ameliorate some of the problems around higher education student
visas. We are looking to important changes in the policy settings
especially with regards to up-front financial requirements, work
experience opportunities and processing times", Dr Withers said.

My CBS (Cynical Bull ****) radar suggest that :

The exercise is an excuse to increase fees to local students and
increase the number of overseas students.

The report fails to analyse the cost to the nation of the best of the
best teaching our neighbouring countries how to create cheaper goods
with better economical management in place to compete with our own
rapidly depleting manufacturing efforts.

I emanate from an era where the Government paid for the education of the
individual from birth till degree.

Foreign students were the exception rather than the norm and a degree
had to be earned and not paid for in advance.

In other words, real teaching for the right reasons.

Somewhere in the last thirty years, education has turned into a business
that has sold out our intellectual property to the student intake from
foreign countries leaving us dependent on those countries for almost all
aspects of our economy.

An article at Nature stated:
Quote/ [1]
To Paula Stephan, an economist at Georgia State University in Atlanta
who studies PhD trends, it is "scandalous" that US politicians continue
to speak of a PhD shortage. The United States is second only to China in
awarding science doctorates - it produced an estimated 19,733 in the
life sciences and physical sciences in 2009 - and production is going
up. But Stephan says that no one should applaud this trend, "unless
Congress wants to put money into creating jobs for these people rather
than just creating supply".

I for one agree with Paula, to fix the economy, we, as a country need to
concentrate on encouraging and funding innovative non-service oriented
(manufacturing) start-ups.

The country needs more blue collar workmen, that speak English not

The unemployment demographics in the USA show that PhD's are just as
likely to be on food stamps as any other segment of the economy. 

The USA has not faltered in it's education systems capability of
churning out highly-educated
STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workers of today
(Source: [3]):

Decade      PhD's  % of Pop
1910-1919   546    0.001%
1920-1929   1,081  0.001%
1930-1939   2,697  0.002%
1940-1949   3,349  0.002%
1950-1959   8,376  0.005%
1960-1969   16,284 0.009%
1970-1979   32,094 0.015%
1980-1989   31,948 0.014%
1990-1999   40,377 0.016%
2000-2006   41,998 0.014%

Yet it does not seem to have staved off the current (reported) 10-15%
unemployed or the 15.8% [4] (national average) relying on food stamps to

(The State of Wyoming is the big exception at only 6% of the population
relying on food stamps. Curiously, Wyoming has the least number of PhD's
in the USA.... But in other aspects - apart from no corporate or
personal income tax -  is very similar to Au in that farming and mining
is the backbone of the States industry...) [5] 

Universities in Australia have singularly failed to deliver successful
commercialisation of projects in a timely manner therefore the claims as
to the increase in GDP growth draws heavily on overseas
commercialisation of Australian ideas.

In my opinion, the report from Universities Australia is self serving,
not independent and should be disregarded. 

Funding can and should be obtained from industry for the thousands of
intellectual property licences currently collecting dust in the filing
cabinets of "innovations" etc etc.

Unfortunately, in the main, win win commercial negotiation strategy
appear to be outside the ability of most academics and the real
assistance that Australian universities require is not additional
funding levels or more foreign students but some mentoring from former
industry leaders that have been commercially successful.

I think University funding and fee structure should be based on
commercialisation success. i.e.: Number of jobs created from
Commercialisation of projects - NOT how much the university gets to sock
away from it's 100% owned but dust gathering technology agreements.

The Vice chancellors have an opportunity to add to the GDP in a real and
meaningful manner by commercialising the output of all that talent.

I look forward to a report in the future that lists Australian
Universities and the actual number of jobs that each has created outside
of Academia (rather than promising but empty rhetoric and statistical
stochastically reconfigured baseline that won't actually feed a single
Australian hungry mouth).

I think the concept is called sustainable development.


[1] United States: Supply versus demand

[2] Employment of minority PhDs: changes over time
 By Betty D. Maxfield, National Science Foundation (U.S.), National
Endowment for the Humanities

[3] http://ftp.iza.org/dp5367.pdf

[4] Demand for Food Stamps Remains High

[5] About Wyoming http://www.wyoming.gov/narrative.aspx

More information about the Link mailing list