In previous posts I talked about the immense overhead in the university sector. Some 70 cents in the commonwealth dollar aimed at universities ends up in admin and US researchers have calculated that the optimal amount of administration is so much lower than the current Australian average that we should be able to axe 40% without a real reduction in teaching and research services. The immense waste (and corruption!) in our sector is thus increasingly being recognised in the Australian media and even in a recent commissioned Ernst and Young consultancy report.
The question to the readers though is what can realistically be done to deliver university teaching and research at reduced costs in Australia? Forget about being outraged or wishing for some return to a mythical glorious past by means of some remorseful redemptive action. In the real world everyone hangs on tight to their current positions and will fight changes that affect them negatively tooth and nail, morality be damned. that is normal and to be expected.
In that light, if you were the minister for education in Canberra, supported by the ministry, public opinion, and business, what would you actually do to turn things around and get more bang for the public buck?
On Friday I plan to blog about the existing barriers to reform and how they knock the teeth out of most of the reforms on the table. On Monday you get my best-guess as to what a minister might realistically do that would have some positive effect. Till then I think it important to hear what you would do and why you think it would work.