Legislation introduced to implement Universities Accord Interim Report

The Albanese Government is opening the door of opportunity for more Australians by acting on the priority actions of the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report. 

The Interim Report outlines five priority actions. The Government has committed to implement all of them. 

Two of the priority actions require legislative change and that is what the Education Support Amendment (Response to the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report) Bill 2023 introduced today is all about. 

The Bill abolishes 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. 

At Western Sydney University this year alone, the 50 per cent pass rule has already led to 1,350 students being forced to quit. Most of them from poor backgrounds.  

More than 13,000 students at 27 universities have already been hit by this. Instead of forcing them to quit we should be helping them to pass.  

The changes in this Bill will do that. As well as abolishing the 50 per cent pass rule, the Bill strengthens accountability and reporting requirements for higher education providers to ensure students are properly supported to study. 

Higher education providers that fail to meet the new requirements will face compliance action, including possible financial penalties. 

The Bill also delivers demand-driven funding for all Indigenous students to attend university if they are qualified for admission to the course. 

At the moment this only applies to Indigenous students who live in regional Australia. It applies if you live in Townsville, but not Logan. If you live in Armidale, but not Mount Druitt. If you live in Port Hedland, but not Perth. 

Now it will apply to all. Doing this could double the number of Indigenous students at university in a decade.  

These changes will make a real difference to access and equity for under-represented groups at Australian universities. 

In addition to the immediate priority actions, the Interim Report has identified more than 70 policy ideas the Accord Panel is considering including in their Final Report.

To provide a submission on the further policy ideas outlined in the report visit the Department of Education’s Consultation on the Accord Interim Report page.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education, Jason Clare: 

“The Australian Universities Accord Interim Report makes it clear that more and more jobs will require a university qualification in the future.

“Almost one in two Australians in their thirties have a university degree today. But not everywhere.

“Not where I grew up. Not in the outer suburbs of our big cities. Not in the regions. Not in poor families.

“Only 15 percent of people from poor families have a university degree today. And it’s even lower if you are Indigenous. 

“This will help to change that, opening the door of opportunity wider for more Australians.”