The Demand Driven Funding System
Until 2011 individual universities negotiated with the Commonwealth the number of students they would be funded to enrol. This meant that there were inevitably a large number of potential students who missed out on higher education.
From 2012 universities have had a funding guarantee from the Commonwealth that they would receive funding for every undergraduate, bachelor degree student they enrolled (except in Medicine).
Though this has come at a cost to the Commonwealth’s higher education budget, the demand-driven system has been a vital reform that has enabled tens of thousands of extra students to undertake higher education in preparation for filling the high-skill needs of the future economy. It has opened up an avenue for members of previously underrepresented groups, who have historically been less academically prepared and thus less likely to meet entry criteria though by no means incapable of success if given appropriate support.
The continuation of the demand-driven system has currently got bi-partisan support from both major political parties, though it is currently under a review to determine how it is tracking. See UA's submission to the review here.
The Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program
The Commonwealth Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) directly assists universities’ efforts to increase the number of students from low-SES backgrounds enrolling and completing higher education. The HEPPP provides both a financial incentive for universities to enrol low-SES students, and also funds partnership activities with schools, VET providers, and the community to raise aspirations and build capacity in low-SES communities and particularly in Indigenous communities.
Universities Australia considers the HEPPP program to be a valuable policy platform that is well-targeted and serves a useful purpose but which could easily achieve more through the provision of more funding.
See also: Student Income Support; Affordable Housing; Student Experience; Student Finances