Tertiary Education Policy Series 2017/2018

G06 (formerly known as Theatre A) Elisabeth Murdoch Building, The University of Melbourne


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Erin Turner


T: 03 8344 2591

How to achieve...an affordable tertiary education sector

Higher education reform needs to have a bold vision and be affordable – to both students and the government. University enrolments have exploded in recent years, but how well is this serving the needs of individuals and the economy. Will governments continue to have an appetite for funding uncapped growth in the university sector; certainly recent attempts to push more of the cost burden onto students have failed. Should Australia follow the UK’s lead in reimagining a holistic post-secondary education sector that pulls down the boundaries between vocational and higher education? Are there new models of delivery and new qualifications and credentials that should be considered? Would that help address the growing HELP debt crisis for both students and government? Will the push for tuition-free higher education in the UK have traction here? What do we know about return on investment of a degree?

Speakers: Stephen Parker, KPMG; Gigi Foster, UNSW; Mark Warburton, policy expert.

Co-hosted by the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education and KPMG.


Professor Stephen Parker began his career in law, working in private practice and academia in the UK. Over the last 30 years he has held a number of high-profile roles in the Australian education sector including vice-chancellor of the University of Canberra, senior deputy vice-chancellor at Monash University and, most recently, director of global development and strategy at The Conversation. In 2014, Professor Parker received the Order of Australia for his services to tertiary education. As KPMG Australia’s national education sector partner Professor Parker continues his passion for improving Australia’s social and economic future through improvements in education and research outcomes. He leads work across all parts of the sector including higher education, vocational and training and school education.

Dr Gigi Foster received her BA from Yale and her PhD in economics from the University of Maryland. Dr Foster's research interests and contributions lie in the areas of education, social influence, behavioural economics and a multidisciplinary analysis of human behaviour in groups. Much of her published work focuses on aspects of decisions related to human capital investment and social influence. Her research has been supported by the Australian Research Council, the Spencer Foundation, the University of New South Wales, and the University of South Australia. Dr Foster is also active in the Australian media, particularly in regard to matters of education policy and economic thought.

Mr Mark Warburton currently works as a consultant on projects involving public policy and research on tertiary education and social services. Mr Warburton was the principal analyst for Universities Australia in 2015 and prior to that he had over 30 years of experience in the federal public service. He worked on higher education funding policy for many years, including Transforming Australia's Higher Education System and Higher Education at the Crossroads review, including the development of the current Higher Education Support Act 2003. Mark has worked extensively on policy, legislation and implementation of major Government social security programs and managing their budget implications.

Leo Goedegebuure is the director at the LH Martin Institute at the University of Melbourne, where he was deputy director 2009-2012. Prior to that, he was an associate professor in the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy at the University of New England. He is active in the field of higher education policy research and management. Prior to his move to Australia in 2005, Leo was director of the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) at the University of Twente in The Netherlands, Europe’s largest research centre in this field.

Upcoming events

This is the first of four seminars in the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education policy series. Seminars next year will explore inequality, nurturing talent for a future workforce and the decline in trust in public institutions, including universities. To find out more about our upcoming events and their release dates please subscribe to our mailing list here.