Social responsibility and universities: why funding policy matters
Responsibility of Higher Education for Society and Labour Market
Trudy Cooper, Edith Cowan University, Australia
Single presentation - 30 Minutes
The introduction of student demand-driven funding in Australian universities in 2012 was intended to increase student choice. As implemented in Australia, under demand-driven funding universities no longer had to provide agreed numbers of student places in each undergraduate degree, in order to receive government supported places. This permitted universities freedom to choose the course mix they offered, and according the assumptions that informed the new policy, this would make universities move responsive to student demand. This research examined the effects of the policy on three specialist undergraduate degree courses in social professions (in youth work, disability studies, and social gerontology), for which there was high employer demand, and high social need. Analysis found that demand-driven funding had changed the balance of power between universities, employers and students, and enabled universities to put their own profitability ahead of the needs of other parties. University strategic culture became even more corporate in socially unhelpful ways and antithetical to social responsibility and public good. The research concluded that demand driven funding did not increase universities responsiveness to student demand, and market forces did not make universities more responsive to workforce needs or social need. Instead universities used the changes to further their own interests more aggressively at the expense of other parties and of society.