Adrian Piccoli’s plan to improve teacher quality has drawn the ire of one of the nation’s most prominent vice-chancellors
Feb 22, 2016 | News
NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli has been labelled elitist for advocating a cap on university courses which are over-subscribed or offer poor employment opportunities post-study.
The Minister says imposing a cap on courses such as teaching and nursing would create competition and ensure applicants reached minimum entry requirements - so improving the quality and status of graduates.
His comments were prompted by recent revelations that almost all Australian universities routinely accept undergraduates with marks below minimum entry requirements.
He has evoked the wrath of Australian Catholic University (ACU) vice-chancellor Greg Craven, who is tasked with helping to create clarity around the messy university admissions system.
Mr Craven has accused the minister of elitism, saying: "University education is a fundamentally good thing, providing people with an opportunity to better their chances of success in life.
"That's why successive federal governments have supported a policy that has opened up higher education to more Australians.
"What Minister Piccoli is advocating is a return to the bad old days when only the elite were able to go to university, with sparse opportunities for people from the outer suburbs and the bush."
As a member of the five-person Higher Education Standards Panel, Mr Craven will help shape the Federal Government’s approach to tertiary admissions post-2016.
Mr Piccoli has expressed concern that universities are using students as cash cows and he believes admitting undergraduates with low marks could harm the international reputation of Australian higher education.
"Where there are a limited number of places or jobs available, they should be capping places,” he told Fairfax Media.
"Why are we training all of these people when the majority of them won't get jobs?"
Federal education minister Simon Birmingham has said there are no plans to reinstate caps on places, but he will be reviewing university admission practices and standards for 2017.
Photo: ABC News: Ruby Cornish