25 September, 2012Universities Australia strongly applauds comments made by the Australian Government in New York overnight tying Australia's future productivity and prosperity to 'staying in front in the education race'.
Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said that the speech delivered by the Foreign Minister (representing the Prime Minister) to the Asia Society and the Economic Club "hits the nail on the head" by placing education and innovation as central to economic development.
"The world has for too long seen Australia as a one trick pony, with our fortunes tied heavily to the mining boom and China's demand for our resources.
"As Senator Carr said, nearly eighty per cent of Australia's gross value add is in services, and at the top of our service exports is education.
"The international education industry driven by our 39 world class universities, contributes some $16.5 billion and around 180,000 jobs.
"International education contributes significantly to our economic prosperity and a key priority for our universities has always been producing high skilled graduates and driving the innovation needed for Australia to compete in the global economy.
"Only through skills and innovation can Australia hope to seize to opportunities presented by the Asian century. As Senator Carr said in the speech:
"And the real task of the preparedness is this.
"Building the skills and knowledge of our people - accumulating and deploying human capital - lifting productivity, generating innovation, making ideas.
"The generation and distribution of ideas is the core business of Australian universities.
"Higher education has been central to the rapid rise of Asian economies and it will continue to be central to Australia's rise and prosperity in this new climate.
"Staying in front of the education and innovation race has never been more important," Ms Robinson concluded.