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Business potential lies untapped in schools

Media release 2 minute read

A focus on education business management is key to improving student outcomes, according to the author of an ACER Press book to be launched this week.

In Above and Beyond the Bottom Line: The extraordinary evolution of the education business manager, Deakin University’s Professor Karen Starr argues ‘business’ can no longer be seen as a dirty word in education.

“Education is big business. Globally, it is a multibillion dollar industry employing millions of people,” Professor Starr said, speaking ahead of the launch.

“And in Australia, like it or not, government policy changes have made educational institutions more businesslike.

“If business is not well managed within education systems and institutions, education itself suffers,” she said.

Building on research and interviews with education business managers, Above and Beyond the Bottom Line is the first book in Australia to explore the extent of school business and how it is conducted.

The book reports “an enormous waste of untapped business potential” and suggests schools could be run more effectively with greater autonomy and dedicated business management staff.

“Schools are in the not-for-profit sector, but governments and the public are demanding greater accountability for education spending and improved educational standards: essentially, more for less. This is possible only where educational institutions have strong leaders supported by effective business professionals,” Professor Starr said.

The book argues that employing business managers is not an additional cost to the education system, as business managers achieve savings and attract extra funds to schools, generating a substantial return on the investment of their salaries, and free up principals and educators to focus on teaching and learning.

Professor Karen Starr is the Foundation Chair in School Development and Leadership at Deakin University, and runs the Leadership for Business Managers training course for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Above and Beyond the Bottom Line (ACER Press, 2012) will be launched at NAB Docklands in Melbourne on 8 March at 5.30 pm. Print copies can be purchased from the ACER Online Shop or by contacting customer service on 1800 338 402 or via email on


Media enquiries: Megan Robinson, ACER Corporate Communications

Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)
Phone: (03) 9277 5582
Mobile: 0419 340 058

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