In The Long Run We Are All Dead

"In The Long Run We Are All Dead: A Preliminary Sketch of Demographic, Economic, and Technological Trends for the University Sector"

University participation and costs are both rising. What evidence is there that the public is receiving good value? Using demographic data, trends, and analysis from Australia, and considering contemporary developments in information and communications technology, a preliminary assessment is made for the economic and political future of the public university sector.

Although the proportion of the population completing university education is increasing, so too is the per-student cost. Due to the cost-disease of the service sector, this cost is increasing greater relative to other sectors. Public funding in such a situation would normally be subject to strong political pressure, however, this is mitigated by claims of positive externalities from the sector.

Recent econometric research breaks this down on a disciplinary level, calculating social and personal benefits with precision. Further, contemporary technologies challenge the traditional "iron triangle" of vectors of quality, cost, and access. This breaks down the traditional cost-disease model, allowing for the triangle to be expanded across the vectors, and potentially freeing up educator resources for more creative contributions. Of course, this assumes that creativity is not a process that can emerge through automation. Until that storm arrives, however, we ought to take advantage of favourable currents.

Presentation to the University of Otago Higher Education Development Centre (HEDC) Symposium 2021