AUSTRALIA'S higher education is more accessible than in many other OECD countries, according to a research briefing paper released today by the Australian Council for Educational Research.
The paper also reveals that Australia's relatively high bachelor degree attainment levels are now above the OECD average, a recent phenomenon compared with other nations that have been achieving higher attainment for a number of generations.
''The Australian government has set ambitious targets for its higher education system, aiming to substantially broaden and improve it by increasing participation and transforming funding arrangements. This move is beginning to bear fruit,'' says Dr Daniel Edwards, ACER Senior Research Fellow and co-author of the research briefing paper.
Interestingly, the higher participation rates have been achieved despite Australian expenditure on tertiary education falling for the past 20 years. ''We need to keep in mind that declining expenditure on tertiary education could have adverse consequences down the track,'' Edwards says.
The report also highlights that while more women study at university, their salaries are lower than their male counterparts. The discrepancy is stronger the more qualified the graduate, an outcome that is not a feature of many other developed nations.