The Minister for Education Jason Clare has today released the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report.
The Minister has also announced the Government will act on the five immediate actions the Accord Panel has identified.
The Interim Report states that more and more jobs will require a university qualification in the years ahead.
While 36 percent of the current Australian workforce has a university degree, the report estimates that this could jump to 55 percent by the middle of this century.
That means more Australians will require a university qualification and the Interim Report says that many of those Australians will need to come from the outer suburbs of our major cities and our regions.
The report says that “bold, long-term change is required to fulfil the mission of higher education in Australia.”
The Government will act on the five immediate actions identified in the report ahead of the Accord Panel’s Final Report.
In response to the five immediate actions, the Government will:
1. Establish up to 20 additional Regional University Study Hubs (formerly Regional University Centres), building on the 34 existing Regional University Study Hubs currently operating across the country, and establish up to 14 Suburban University Study Hubs.
2. Abolish the 50 percent pass rule, introduced as part of the Job-ready Graduates Scheme, which has had a disproportionately negative impact on students from poor backgrounds and from the regions, and require increased reporting on student progress.
3. Extend demand driven funding to all First Nations students who are eligible for the course they apply for. Currently this only applies to First Nations students in regional and remote Australia.
4. Extend the Higher Education Continuity Guarantee for a further two years to provide funding certainty to universities as the Accord process rolls out, and as part of this, require universities to invest any remaining funding from their grant each year on additional academic and learning support for students from poor backgrounds, from the regions and from other under-represented groups.
5. Work with State and Territory governments to improve university governance. This includes university governing bodies having more people with expertise in the business of universities, and a focus on student and staff safety and making sure universities are good employers.
In addition to the five immediate actions, the report identifies more than 70 policy ideas the Accord Panel is considering including in their Final Report and it seeks feedback on them.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Education Jason Clare:
“I thank Professor Mary O’Kane AC, and the Accord Panel, for this important report.
“This report makes it clear that more and more jobs will require a university qualification in the future.
“That means we are going to need more people to get those qualifications. More young people getting degrees and more people in the workforce up-skilling and re-skilling.
“At the moment, almost one in two Australians in their late 20s have a university degree. But not everywhere.
“Only 15 percent of young people from poor families have a university degree. And only 18 percent of young people in the regions do.
“This report makes it clear that this has to change. The changes happening in our economy right now means this has to change.
“If we don’t, we won’t have the skills and the economic firepower we need to make Australia everything it can be in the years ahead.”
Quotes attributable to the Chair of the Australian Universities Accord Panel, Professor Mary O’Kane AC:
“Higher education is essential to our national prosperity – it is the foundation upon which a more equitable and fair society, and a stronger economy, can be built.
“Higher education is a powerful vehicle for transformative change at individual, community and societal levels.
“A strong and fair Australia needs the skills, new knowledge and socio-economic outcomes that higher education provides.
“We have heard, and continue to hear, a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of higher education in Australia. This is vitally important to understand how we can address future challenges and opportunities faced by the sector.
“Thank you to everyone who has engaged with the process so far, particularly those who have made, or intend to make, submissions to the Panel.
“We look forward to receiving feedback on the Interim Report, and to continuing this important work.”