5900.0.00.003 - University output measures in the Australian National Accounts: experimental estimates, 2008 to 2017  
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Teaching output measures

The quantity of teaching output delivered by universities was measured in terms of enrolled student load, on a full-time equivalent basis. Enrolment information was sourced from the Department of Education.7 Non-award qualifications were excluded, as were research-based degrees (the latter contributed to a subsequent stream of output). A volume index was constructed by weighting the student enrolment data for each university with the corresponding expenditure data allocated to teaching activities, and aggregating across universities.

This experimental method has some limitations, including:

      a) Using student enrolments as the quantity measure instead of student completions means that degrees that take longer to complete (e.g. medicine and law) carry a higher weight. But this also applies to students who take longer to complete their degrees (e.g. due to subject failures etc). A student who repeats a unit will be allocated a higher weight because they remain enrolled for longer than their counterparts who complete the degree without failure. This is because an academic who delivers a course to a student for a second time is producing additional output.

      b) Ideally, a higher weight would be assigned to degrees that are more expensive to deliver. For instance, a chemistry degree is likely to be more costly for a university to deliver (and therefore more ‘valuable’ to a student) than a humanities degree. Enrolments data by discipline are publicly available, but this cannot be used in the construction of a volume index because expenditures incurred per faculty are not available.

      c) No explicit differentiation is possible between different levels of qualifications (e.g. one year spent on a coursework masters degree versus a year spent on an undergraduate degree).


7 https://www.education.gov.au/selected-higher-education-statistics-2017-student-data

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