National and state government fund education in Australia, but the majority of funding for general education to the
secondary level is provided from individual states and territories.
With the Indigenous Education act of 2000, financial assistance for aboriginal education has also recently been provided.1 Education is compulsory to the age of fifteen.
Graduation certificates and AQF qualifications
prepare individuals to enter the workforce through VET, for continued
vocational training through TAFE, and for entrance into a program of
postsecondary learning. Adult learners are also provided opportunities for a secondary certificate.
Higher and postsecondary learning in
Australia (like in the United Kingdom and New Zealand) is more commonly
known as tertiary education. The Commonwealth has undertaken significant work in improving research and
practice in the area of international education, and has become a
significant competitor in attracting international students.
The federal government of the Commonwealth provides
all funding for institutions of higher education that are members to the Australian Unified National System (UNS). In Australia, only three public institutions and one religious, private university are not members of UNS (though the
the public institutions still do receive federal funding). Undergraduates in Australia are not charged tuition, resulting in a “significant level of unmet applicant demand for higher education,” as funding is restricted to
Commonwealth funding and supplemental state
funding, student loans, etc. 3 With a greater exception of institutions, tertiary education in general is also governed by state legislation.
State governments provide
TAFE funding. Generally, vocational training is not considered “higher education.” Institutions
have recently established new venues for inter-organizational and
governmental relations through coordinating and planning boards between federal and state government;
then also between institutions, national and state government for collaborative decision-making on funding, “planning priorities, demography, school retention and higher education participation.”
In terms of internal governance,
technical schools, colleges and universities are considered autonomous and
self-governing. Moreover, Australia has a unique system of private
[secondary] schooling." 5 While a business and corporate style of
management has recently appealed to many universities, university governance
relies on principles of shared governance with a strong role for faculty participation and
involvement. Nevertheless, Australian institutions do
not have a specific, formal tradition of "shared governance." In much the same
way, faculty human resource also resembles
a tenure system, which is known as "confirmation" in
Australia, without the formal tradition of academic freedom and tenure.
No Carnegie Classification
system (as in the United States) exists for classifying
universities. However, all "universities are funded for
research as well as teaching and enroll doctoral students." 6
Though there has been some evidence of relaxing that control from higher education
reforms with the planning and coordinating boards, where funding for institutions is provided by the national government, there are significant restraints where the “Commonwealth Government currently
Nonetheless, reforms such as the implementation of AQF and VET have
created additional structural tensions. Higher education reform in Australia, “of course, raised concerns.”
8 Questions remain over the pressures from external forces, including
both government and private stakeholders that reflect international trends on higher education reform, particularly in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, and New Zealand.
9 Additional comparative perspectives reveal more about Australian tertiary education and the changes
that institutions face.
1 Australian Government. "School Education
Retrieved February 15, 2007, http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/school
2 AQF Advisory Board. "Australia Qualifications Framework." Author,
6, 2007, http://www.aqf.edu.au/schoolssector.htm#schools
3 Taylor, D.D. "The Structure and Governance of higher
A Global Perspective, Australian Higher Education. AIR 1992 Annual Forum
Paper. Georgia: Association for Institutional Researh.
5 Keating, J. (2003). "Qualifications Frameworks in
of Education and Work, Vol. 16, No. 3.
6 "The Structure and Governance," Op. Cit.
7 Coaldrake, P., Stedman, L, and Little, P. 2003. "Issues
in Australian University
Governance." Brisbane: QUT.
8 "The Structure and Governance," Op. Cit.