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Australia: Former ACCC chief says watchdog too weak to regulate university fees

 |  December 2, 2014

The former head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is publically speaking out against suggestions that the regulator should monitor deregulated university fees, calling the plan a “waste of time” as the ACCC does not hold enough power to effectively do so.

According to reports, former ACCC Commissioner Stephen King has warned that the ACCC does not have the “teeth” to properly regulate those fees, and even if it did, it has no basis to determine at what level those fees should be set.

King’s remarks followed Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s remarks earlier this week that federal officials are considering having the ACCC monitor the fees following deregulation. But King argues that if the government feels that the ACCC should be given more power to regulate the cost of university, it should do so only if it feels the market would not work on its own. And if the government does not feel the market would work on its own, he said, then the fees should not be deregulated in the first place.

While he said he is in favor of price deregulation, King warned that brand power and prestige among the top universities would lead to little price competition, and university costs will likely rise.

Full content: The Australian

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