Cut red tape when you can
2 June 2011
Whenever there is a chance to cut red tape it should be taken. Regulations should only be imposed when there is a demonstrable need for them.
The Howard Government’s higher education reforms of 2003 saw the introduction of a unique student identifier (CHESSN) for tracking student mobility, progression, attrition and completion.
Preliminary data based on the student identifier indicate that the seven year limit of the student learning entitlement (SLE) is exceeded in practice by very few students. Australia does not have a systemic problem of excessively long study periods that is found in some other countries.
As the Gillard Government moves to remove limits on student access to higher education it is sensible to reduce the regulatory burden associated with the former capped system. The SLE is a very complex mechanism. Its removal would reduce administrative costs.
The availability of the student identifier gives the Government a means of monitoring patterns of study duration. Should the data indicate a problem emerging then the Government could introduce controls. Public release of the CHESSN data would help inform the debate.
Concerns about the costs of an open-ended higher education system are understandable but at this stage the SLE looks like a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
Kerrie Thornton, Director, Communications and International, Group of Eight Ph: 02 6239 5488