Professor Bruce Chapman AM.

Three decades of distinction

13 July 2015

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Professor Bruce Chapman is Director, Policy Impact at Crawford School. He is the architect of the Higher Education Scheme (HECS) and was recently named as the most influential person in education by The Australian newspaper. He teaches Case Studies in Economic Policy (POGO8210) and Economic Seminars (IDEC8024).

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Crawford School’s Professor Bruce Chapman AM has been named as the 2015 Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Society of Australia in recognition of his contributions to economics and society over more than three decades.

Professor Chapman was given the award at a ceremony held on Thursday 9 July. Professor Chapman, who teaches the Case Studies in Economics Policy and Economic Seminars courses at Crawford School, is best known for his pioneering work in designing the Australian Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS).

His citation detailed his many achievements in understanding issues in labour economics.

“There was a period when the government tried to actively engineer wage trade-offs to improve employment outcomes,” read the citation.

“As a labour economist with a strong interest in public policy, Bruce entered the fray. From 1987 to 1989 he became a full-time economic consultant to the Minister for Employment, Education and Training, on leave from ANU, and then from 1994 to 1996 he was Senior Economic Advisor to Prime Minister Paul Keating.

“During these periods inside government he became deeply involved in the issue of funding higher education. This led to Bruce’s substantial intellectual contribution around the issue of income-contingent loans. It also led to his practical legacy of income-contingent funding of higher education in Australia based on the HECS model. He is publically recognised as the architect of HECS.”

“Since the mid-1990s Bruce’s publications and public lectures have focused almost exclusively on the role income-contingent funding can play both in education and in other areas. Most of his recent papers look at these issues and his book, published in 2006, was appropriately titled Government Managing Risk: Income contingent loans for social and economic progress. “

Professor Chapman said he was delighted to be recognised by his peers.

“A very significant number of social scientists – mainly economists - have been actively involved in research on the topic of income-contingent loans with me, and this has been the most satisfying aspect of my research and policy engagement.

“It illustrates the importance and power of cooperation in research for public policy.

“The distinguished fellow award has been awarded to some of Australia’s leading economists, and I’m humbled to be thought of in this context.”

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