The Australian Universities Accord Interim Report is a strong affirmation of the importance of higher education to the nation’s economic and social future, according to Murdoch University Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Deeks.
“The Universities Accord seeks to build a long-term plan for the Australian higher education sector, and am pleased to see that the government will be taking immediate actions that will make university education in Australia more accessible for people from marginalised backgrounds,” he said.
“These steps align with our own strategy and our submission to the Accord process.
“I welcome the extension of demand driven funding to all eligible First Nations students, aligning with Murdoch University’s strategy to become the university of first choice for First Nations peoples.”
However, the Vice Chancellor is concerned about the Interim Report’s suggestion to establish a new Tertiary Education Commission.
“Australia has previously had such a commission,” he said, “while the UK dissolved their Higher Education Funding Council for England in 2018,” he said.
“In Ireland, as President of University College Dublin, I worked closely with the Higher Education Authority, which had a similar remit to that which is being suggested for the Tertiary Education Commission.
“The authority of any such commission would need to be considered carefully, and particularly its relationship to government and to the institutions.
“I also have significant concern over the suggestion that a levy would be placed on international students. Nevertheless, it is great that these have been flagged as ideas for further discussion rather than as decisions.”
Professor Deeks is worried the same opportunity to provide feedback won’t be afforded to the Western Australian universities that are the subject of a separate State government review.
The Review panel is expected to deliver a progress report to the WA Education Minister by the end of this month but Professor Deeks said it might not align with the Accord’s proposals.
“The Accord Interim Report suggested Australian higher education would benefit from having more variety in its university offerings,” Professor Deeks said.
“WA is fortunate to have a wide range of differentiated universities, and I hope this will not be negatively impacted by the Independent Review of WA Universities.”
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