The demand driven higher education funding system: frozen or finished? – Sydney

In late December 2017, the government suddenly froze public funding for bachelor degree places in Australian universities. In doing so it ended six years of ‘demand driven’ funding that let public universities enrol unlimited numbers of bachelor degree students.

Should the demand driven system be restored? Its supporters argue that it increased access to higher education, fixed skills shortages caused by too few graduates, and encouraged innovation in teaching. Its detractors argue that admission standards fell, that we now have too many graduates, and that it cost taxpayers far too much.


Libby Hackett is a partner at Perrett Laver, a global consultancy and executive search agency, with a major focus on higher education. Before moving to Australia in 2015, she had a 15-year career in UK higher education policy, including senior roles in the UK Government, Parliament, think tanks and as a Director / CEO of the Russell Group and University Alliance respectively.


Craig Emerson is managing director of Craig Emerson Economics and a consultant with KPMG. He was a member of the House of Representatives from 1998 to 2013, and a minister in the Rudd and Gillard governments. He was the minister for tertiary education in 2013.

Judith Sloan is contributing economics editor at The Australian. She has been an academic, a commissioner at the Productivity Commission and the Australian Fair Pay Commission, and a company director.

Andrew Norton is the higher education program director at the Grattan Institute. In 2104 he was the co-author of the government-commissioned Review of the Demand Driven Funding System.