Responding to the Australian Universities Accord

The Albanese Government is putting in place significant reforms in response to the Australian Universities Accord.

The Accord is the biggest and broadest review of the higher education sector in 15 years.

It sets out a blueprint for higher education reform for the next decade and beyond.

As part of this response, the Government is setting a national target of 80 per cent of the workforce having a tertiary qualification by 2050.

If the broader Accord targets were achieved, around $240 billion in additional income would be added to the economy over the period to 2050.

The Government is taking steps towards getting there by responding to 29 of the 47 Australian Universities Accord recommendations in full or in part.

These reforms will make the HELP system fairer, deliver cost of living relief for students, support more Australians to attend university, and make structural reforms to our tertiary education system.

This ambitious approach will help to ensure that we build the skills we need for a future made in Australia, where no one is held back and no one is left behind.

The Government will:

  • Make Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) system fairer by changing the way indexation is calculated, wiping around $3 billion in student debt from more than 3 million Australians.
  • Introduce a Commonwealth Prac Payment for teaching, nursing and midwifery and social work students undertaking mandatory placements.
  • Deliver FEE-FREE Uni Ready courses to provide more students with an enabling pathway into higher education. This is expected to increase the number of students undertaking these courses by 40 per cent by 2030 and double the number of students by 2040. This will give more Australians the skills they need to get into the course they want.
  • Develop a new Managed Growth Funding System for Commonwealth supported places to meet student demand, maintain sustainable growth and increase opportunity for people from underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Make Needs-Based Funding a core component of funding for higher education teaching and learning.
  • Establish an Australian Tertiary Education Commission (ATEC) as a steward of the tertiary education system.
  • Improve tertiary harmonisation, including by supporting better student pathways between VET and higher education, reducing red-tape for dual sector providers.
  • Fund Charles Darwin University to establish and operate a new medical school in the Northern Territory, subject to finalisation of exploratory work.
  • Commission an independent strategic examination of Research and Development across government.
  • Establish an independent National Student Ombudsman.
  • Establish a National Higher Education Code to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence.
  • Undertake a study into antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism and the experience of First Nations people in the university sector.
  • Mandate that higher education providers allocate at least 40 per cent of their Student Services and Amenities Fee revenue to student-led organisations.
  • Develop an International Education and Skills Strategic Framework to deliver sustainable growth in international education over time and drive quality and integrity within the sector.

More information on these measures can be found here.

Reforms to completely reshape the tertiary and higher education system must be carefully considered and done in close consultation with the higher education and Vocational Education and Training sectors and states and territories.

We have established an Implementation Advisory Committee to undertake further engagement with the sector to inform the legislative design of the Australian Tertiary Education Commission and the new Managed Growth Funding System, including Needs-Based funding.

The advisory committee will be chaired by Tony Cook PSM, Secretary of the Department of Education. Other committee members are:

  • Professor David Lloyd (Vice-Chancellor, University of South Australia)
  • Professor the Hon Verity Firth AM (Vice-President Societal Impact, Equity and Engagement, University of New South Wales)
  • Professor Stephen Duckett AM (Honorary Enterprise Professor, University of Melbourne)
  • Professor Julia Horne (University of Sydney)
  • Professor Tom Calma AO (Kungarakan Elder and 2023 Senior Australian of the Year)
  • Professor Barney Glover AO (Commissioner of Jobs and Skills Australia)
  • Ms Jenny Dodd (CEO, TAFE Directors Australia)
  • Ms Natalie James (Secretary of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Ex-Officio Member)
  • Mr Ben Rimmer (Deputy Secretary, Department of Education, Ex-Officio Member)

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education Jason Clare:

“Under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, the number of Australians finishing high school jumped from around 40 per cent to almost 80 per cent. That was nation changing. Now we have to take the next step.

“This Budget sets a goal of 80 per cent of the workforce with a TAFE or uni qualification by 2050, and funds key reforms to get us there.

“A big part of this is helping more kids from the suburbs and regions get a crack at uni and succeed when they get there.”

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