Raise up the rank outsiders 1

November 4, 2005

Some 32 per cent (12) of Australia's universities appear among the world's top 100 (World University Rankings, October 28) compared with 10 per cent (13) of the UK's. This denotes Australia's unique achievement of widespread excellence in higher education.

Two lessons can be drawn from this. First, since 1988 Australian universities have benefited equally from the additional income provided by top-up fees. Rates do not vary between institutions, and institutions, in turn, invest the proceeds in enhancing educational provision, rather than returning them to middle-class students through bursaries.

Second, a major portion of Australian research funding is distributed through the national Research Quantum Allocation, which disburses funds for all recognised research outputs. Hence, innovation is encouraged across the sector and is rewarded proportionately.

While quality-related research funding is vital, UK decision-makers would do well to consider whether such a quantitative element might help more potential British excellence to see the light of day.

Guy Redden Lincoln University

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