Sunday, December 4, 2022

Australian Higher Education Review

Professor Mary O’Kane
The Australian government has tasked Professor Mary O’Kane, and a panel of six other eminent Australians to conduct a Higher Education Review, as part of the Australian Universities Accord. The term "accord" is one Labor governments favour for broad  agreements with sectors of the economy (most famously used for a 1980s agreement with unions). The review's terms of reference emphasises an economic role for universities, including alignment with the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, and international education. Submissions have been invited by 19 December 2022.

From the terms of reference

"Key areas for review:

1. Meeting Australia’s knowledge and skills needs, now and in the future

- Enhance the delivery of quality education that meets the needs of students across all stages of lifelong learning and develops the skills needed now, and in the future. This will include recommendations for new targets and reforms recognising that more than nine in ten new jobs will require post-school qualifications, and fifty per cent of new jobs are expected to require a bachelor’s degree or higher.

2. Access and opportunity

- Improve access to higher education, across teaching, learning and research. This will include recommendations for new targets and reforms to support greater access and participation for students from underrepresented backgrounds (including First Nations Australians, those from low socio-economic backgrounds, people with disability, and regional and rural Australians).

3. Investment and affordability

- Explore funding and contribution arrangements that deliver equity, access, quality and longer-term investments to meet priorities in teaching, research, workforce and infrastructure. This will include a review of the Job-ready Graduates Package.4. Governance, accountability and community

-Enhance regulatory and workplace relations settings to support universities to meet their obligations to both staff and students.

-Explore the contribution that higher education makes to the Australian community, national security, and sovereign capability.

5. The connection between the vocational education and training and higher education systems

- Explore possible opportunities to support greater engagement and alignment between the vocational education and training (VET) and higher education systems. In particular, the panel will have regard to the experience of students in navigating these systems and ensuring a cohesive and connected tertiary education system.

6. Quality and sustainability

-Examine the challenges faced by domestic and international students and staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the temporary and permanent impacts on the way the higher education sector works.

-Support a competitive and resilient international education sector, reflecting the important role international students play in our society and economy, and Australia’s interest in deepening partnerships abroad.

7. Delivering new knowledge, innovation and capability

- Support a system of university research that delivers for Australia, securing the future of the Australian research pipeline, from basic and translational research to commercialisation. In doing so, the Accord will explore relevant initiatives and other opportunities and to further boost collaboration between universities and industry to drive greater commercial returns.

- The review will synchronise with the ARC review and consider issues raised through that review and other areas of government that impact on the capacity of the higher education system to meet the nation’s current and future needs."

From Terms of Reference,  Review of Australia’s Higher Education, Australian Government, 10 November 2022

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