In this study, productivity growth in thirty-five Australian universities is investigated using nonparametric frontier techniques over the period 1998 to 2003. The inputs included in the analysis are full-time equivalent academic and non-academic staff, non-labour expenditure and undergraduate and postgraduate student load and the outputs are undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD completions, national competitive and industry grants and publications. Using Malmquist indices, productivity growth is decomposed into technical efficiency and technological change. The results indicate that annual productivity growth averaged 3.3 percent across all universities, with a range between -1.8 percent and 13.0 percent, and was largely attributable to technological progress. However, separate analyses of research-only and teaching-only productivity indicate that most of this gain was attributable to improvements in research-only productivity associated with pure technical and some scale efficiency improvements. While teaching-only productivity also contributed, the largest source of gain in that instance was technological progress offset by a slight fall in technical efficiency.
This paper was originally published as Worthington, AC and Lee, BL, Efficiency, technology and productivity change in Australian universities, 1998-2003, Discussion Papers in Economics, Finance and International Competitiveness, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology, 195, June 2005.