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Australia - Higher Education

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Postsecondary education in Australia is divided by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Training, and Youth Affairs (DETYA) into nine categories, three of which are public (University, TAFE/Technical College, and Skillshare or other government training) and the remaining six of which are private (business college or adult/community education center; industry skills center; professional/industry association; equipment/product manufacturer or supplier; other private training organization; and other organization or institution) (DETYA 2000a). Of the nearly 900,000 enrollments in the award sector (1997) private providers represent about 11 percent of postsecondary award enrollments. Non-award enrollments were also offered. The niche role of private providers is demonstrated by the much larger percentage of private over public enrollments involved in part-time and external study (45 percent versus 32 percent in 1997), and in programs not leading to an award.

Most universities (following the models of the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne) are state-owned, statutory bodies established under their own acts of state parliament. The Australian National University is unique, being constituted by an Act of federal parliament in 1946 as Australia's only research university. Its position in the Australian Capital Territory drove it to seek a larger student base, and through amalgamations successively with Canberra University College and the Institute of The Arts, it has since 1960 been offering undergraduate education and since 1992 broadened to include creative arts.

The rash of new universities peaked in the late 1960s, and few new institutions were created until the 1990s. The pressure of new settlement areas has been the major reason for new institutions since then—the University of Western Sydney, for instance, which combined a number of pre-existing colleges (including the venerable Hawkesbury Agricultural College) under one masthead in 1990. The latest university in this category is the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), formed from a private university formed in the 1980s, made a university College in 1994, and was claimed a university by the Labor Party government in Queensland in 1998. It finds itself at the heart of the major growth corridor of the Sunshine Coast, Australia's fastest growing region.

USC also represents the growth of higher education with an increasing number of private tertiary institutions. Few of these (Avondale College, Seventh Day Adventist; Australian Catholic University, Catholic; and Notre Dame University, Catholic being among the exceptions) obtain government funding. The most highly profiled of these (in media terms) was Bond University, begun by a corporate entrepreneur (Alan Bond) before facing financial stringencies and restructuring in the late 1980s. It has since gone on to considerable achievements, particularly in business, economics, and law. Growth is restrained largely by the absence of large pockets of private wealth in Australia, and the size of the population. The position of these institutions as private providers included within the government funding model was a major factor suggesting devolvement of government funding on a voucher basis that could be used at the registered institution of the student's choice. If this were to happen, the private sector would receive considerable impetus, and the small start-up agencies (for instance, those hoping to building on the base provided by the large number of theological colleges and Christian schools in Australia) in formation would emerge as further competition for a public sector which is itself quickly moving to broaden the number of privately funded places offered.

Most Australian universities admit students competitively on the basis of secondary matriculation and demand for courses. In New South Wales, for instance, this is handled through the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC), which mediates student applications via an index called the Universities Admissions Index, successor to many disputed and publicly debated systems. Essentially, the UAI uses weighted HSC results to mediate between student demand and university supply. Most students are offered places in particular institutions on the basis of their UAI. Some institutions also add bonus points to applications if students live in a particular area, fulfill preenrollment interviews, or fit other desirable target criteria. ACT students obtain a score from the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies, and in most other states a Tertiary Entrance Rank is calculated on the basis of weighted matriculation examination scores. In Western Australia, the equivalent is a TER calculated by the Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC). In Queensland, entry is determined by the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) on the basis of overall positions determined through moderated internal assessment and the Queensland Core Skills Test (QCS).


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over 4 years ago

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This site is very informative . It is helpful for searchers who are looking a topic about Australian higher education . Thanks for this information .