grattan institute

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The Intern Experience – Public Policy Reform, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll

Whilst the reputation for the intern experience is one of fetching coffees for superiors and photocopying a litany of documents, the experience I was fortunate to have at the Grattan Institute over Summer 2012/13 will be one to remain with me for years to come.

Founded in 2008 with financial endowments from the Federal and State governments, BHP Billiton and in kind support from the University of Melbourne, the Grattan Institute has sought to carve out a role as one of Australia’s most significant think tanks, specifically focused on public policy. Since founding, it has released a variety of influential reports on key policy issues with its most notable work released last year concerning the significant reforms that could unleash a new wave of economic growth in Australia.

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Procrastination, Productivity, and an Introduction to Saul Eslake


As a student, much of my surroundings comprise haunting visions of people buried under piles of books, papers, cans of V, and suffering from sleep deficits of budgetary proportions whilst attempting to highlight whole textbooks.

Indeed, popular attitudes to studying may or may not be reflected in Urban Dictionary, which defines studying as “texting, eating and watching TV with an open textbook nearby”. A more candid entry simply defines studying as “no homework”.

Studying has become a distracted undertaking and hardly productive. So it’s a little heartening to know that the rest of Australia is getting less productive too.

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Do Tertiary Subsidies affect Tertiary Accessibility?

Earlier this year the Grattan Institute published Graduate Winners, a report which suggested that government subsidies for tertiary education should be cut, given the already strong incentives to pursue higher education, and the low net public benefits that students of certain disciplines accord to society.

To paraphrase, the private benefits that a person gains from attending university, for example, their future income as compared to someone without tertiary qualifications, is large enough to motivate higher education, even if today’s government subsidies were cut. Therefore students should pay more for their tertiary studies. Government subsidies for higher education therefore seem somewhat redundant when an ample incentive already exists for students to undertake further study.

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Graduate Winners

By Andrew Norton

Who should pay for higher education? It’s a question that inflames passions, as I was reminded following the release of my new Grattan Institute report, Graduate Winners: Assessing the public and private benefits of higher education. It was denounced by vice-chancellors, student groups, the university staff union, and assorted tweets.

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