Outgoing Productivity Commission chairman Michael Brennan has proposed increasing student contributions to improve university access.

Brennan says that with slightly higher student fees and lower taxpayer burden, more people can access higher education.

Currently, 26 per cent of Australians aged 15 and older hold bachelor's degrees or higher qualifications, up from 22 per cent in 2016. 

Brennan says there is a need to support “marginal students” in making informed choices to ensure their success or prevent accumulating debt.

His proposal aligns with the Productivity Commission's recent report, which suggests higher contributions based on expected earnings, favouring professions like medicine and engineering over creative arts.

Brennan also advocated a return to the “demand-driven system” for universities to enrol more students. 

He highlighted the need to prioritise teaching alongside research in universities to enhance the overall educational quality.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has announced that Chris Barrett, who preceded Dr Chalmers as chief of staff to Labor treasurer Wayne Swan, will succeed Mr Brennan.

Mr Barrett has served as Australia’s ambassador to the OECD, and more recently as a senior official in the Victorian government Treasury.