Asian education set for HECS

07 March 2013

Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz will be one of the keynote speakers at a special six-day set of conferences looking at the take up of a very Australian idea – income contingent loans.

Taking place in Bangkok, the events have been co-convened by the Crawford School of Public Policy in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, and Dhurakij Pundit University (DPU) – Thailand’s largest private university. The event has been organised by DPU with Crawford School’s Professor Bruce Chapman, widely recognised as the inventor of the income contingent loan-based Higher Education Contribution (HECS) scheme.

The six days include four separate events, all looking at various aspects of income contingent loans, as well as education and labour markets. They include: a public lecture by Professor Stiglitz; an International Economics Association roundtable event co-convened by Stiglitz and Chapman; a joint ANU-DPU conference on Education and Labour Market Outcomes; and two days examining the issue of tertiary education in ASEAN.

Over the course of the six days, the participants will hear talks from some of the world’s leading economists, including David Card from Berkeley, Christoph Schmidt of RWI Essen, John Quiggin from University of Queensland, Nicholas Barr from the London School of Economics, John Piggott from UNSW and Ngo Van Long  from McGill University. As well as Chapman, many researchers from ANU will be contributing, including Maria Racionero, Tim Higgins and Glenn Withers.

The final conference event will look at tertiary education issues in the ASEAN community, and feature presentations from academics and policy makers from Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, as well as an AusAID presentation on the Australian Government’s engagement in education in the region.

Chapman said the event is likely to be a landmark moment highlighting the interest in income contingent loans in terms of both economic theory and in a policy context around the region.

“This event brings together some of the great economists, theorists and policy makers from around the world and the region to discuss these important issues,” he said.

“Student loans are a big deal in Asia. Many of the countries in the region are growing very quickly, so there’s a high demand for higher education. But in some countries, they don’t have loan schemes at all, so many poor students simply can’t get into university. And with countries that have introduced schemes, this conference provides an opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other.”

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