Tertiary education spending: How Australia fares in OECD metrics

Centre for Vocational and Educational Policy Public Seminar

In Australian commentary, public funding for Australian tertiary education is widely seen as among the lowest in the OECD. In this narrative, figures drawn from recent OECD statistics reinforce the impression that Australian rates of investment lag those of nearly all other OECD countries.

However, such claims fail to consider particular features of the Australian situation, reflected in other OECD data. In consequence, commentary often gives partial accounts of the available OECD evidence on tertiary sector financing. In debates on funding policy, an effect of this has been to exaggerate the extent of Australian under-funding, relative to others in the OECD.

Drawing on the latest Education at a Glance statistics, the presentation will examine how the Australian tertiary education sector fares in a range of OECD metrics. It will show how these align with domestic data, and how Australian rates of expenditure compare with those of a selection of other OECD countries.

Along with technical analysis, the presenter will reflect on the politics of international comparisons in domestic funding debates.

Dr Geoff Sharrock

Dr Geoff Sharrock

Dr Geoff Sharrock has worked in public administration with the Victorian government (Public Service Board, Treasury and Finance); in university administration (RMIT University); and in academic teaching and research (University of Melbourne). He has a Ph.D. from RMIT University’s Faculty of Business, on the topic of change in universities. His published work focuses mainly on Australian higher education leadership, policy and strategy. He is the Senior Higher Education Adviser in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor at Monash University, and an honorary fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Vocational and Education Policy.