Australia: demand for private provision grows, says report

Undergraduate student numbers at for-profit colleges grows almost 20 per cent between 2013 and 2015

May 19, 2017
Australia direction

Students in Australia are increasingly studying at private providers, according to a report by the government’s quality assurance watchdog.

A report by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (Teqsa) says that undergraduate student numbers at for-profit colleges rose by almost 20 per cent between 2013 and 2015. In the same period, postgraduate numbers more than doubled.

These figures contrasted with those of Australia’s universities, which saw a drop in the number of domestic postgraduates, instigating a 1 per cent decline in students commencing in 2015, The Australian reported.

Anthony McClaran, Teqsa’s chief executive, noted that public providers still dominated the sector with more than nine in 10 students taught in universities.

Nevertheless, numbers at universities rose by just 6 per cent compared with increases of 35 per cent at for-profit colleges, 17 per cent at not-for-profit institutions, and 20 per cent at technical and further education institutions (TAFEs).

“It’s a sign of dynamism and the attractions of entering the sector,” Mr McClaran said.

Elsewhere, the report found that there was an increasing reliance on casual staff, particularly at universities, although casualisation remained concentrated in for-profit providers.

The Teqsa report combined regulatory data with figures from the Education Department. Unlike the latter’s statistical collections, which focus mainly on universities, this new report allows comparisons across the higher education sector.

john.elmes@timeshighereducation.com

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