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How to count what cannot be measured

In early 2009, the Review of Australian Higher Education (the “Bradley Review”) caused much ado about university reforms in Australia (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, January 2009). The recommendations spanned actions, amongst others, to deregulate universities and extend government funding to a bigger group of providers.

In September 2008, Universities Australia also commissioned KPMG to estimate the return on investment in higher education, putting all costs and benefits together, as representing a real economic rate of return. The results have just been released. The KPMG study shows that the implementation of the recommendations of the Bradley Review would drive Australian recovery and growth, and provide increases in future skills, productivity, exports and GDP. In detail, it indicates that real GDP would increase by an average of AUS 1.6 billion (approximately EUR 900 million) annually over the next decade, then it would accelerate to an average of AUS 38 billion (approximately EUR 21,5 billion) more annually in the decade after 2020. According to the report, the gains would accrue half from the high labour productivity of graduates, and half from a larger labour force and enhanced research and innovation coming from Australia’s universities.

KPMG estimates a real economic rate of return on investment in higher education of 14-15 percent. To be seen, if this will lead the government to take action. And to be seen if one can count what seems so hard to measure.

Universities Australia