Universities Australia notes the progress that government has made in implementing recommendations of the Review of Australian Higher Education ('Bradley Review') and the Review of the National Innovation System ('Cutler Review'), particularly as part of the 2009 and 2010 Federal Budget processes.
Government policy has embraced the recommended agenda of growth, improvement in access, and standards-based regulation, and has provided welcome additional support which to date has particularly focussed on renewing infrastructure, resulting in many major building initiatives on Australian university campuses.
However, the Bradley and Cutler reviews saw their recommendations as sufficient only to prevent further slippage in resourcing for Australia's universities. In the coming years, Universities Australia believes that government policy should deliver fully on the funding recommended by the Bradley and Cutler Review through to 2013. Thereafter public funding for higher education as a share of GDP should be increased to at least the OECD average, if Australia's universities are to implement the proposed reforms and enable Australia to sustain and enhance its position alongside leading industrial countries.
The 2010 Federal Election provides a platform for parties across the political spectrum to deliver much needed reform for universities, through:
- Reform of student income support measures, including an increase in payment rates and broader eligibility
- Increases to both the number of PhD places funded and the funding per place for universities
- Supplementation of the Australian Research Council budget to keep success rates for the flagship Discovery program above 20 per cent
- Appropriation for basic university infrastructure within university grants
- Development of a single national tertiary regulator based on clear, consistent and credible standards
- Consideration of the extended role universities play in regional locations, making the important distinction between operational needs and student needs at regional campuses
- Resources to enable enhanced international collaboration including to improve the attractiveness of Australia as a career destination; and the inclusion of university academics on the Government's Skilled Occupations List for independent migration to facilitate suitably qualified individuals settling in Australia
Bradley Review Timeline
March 2008 - Review of Australian Higher Education announced by the Hon. Julia Gillard MP (Minister for Education)
April 2008 - Universities Australia's preliminary statement to the review
June 2008 - Discussion paper released by the review panel
July/August 2008 - Universities Australia submission to the review
December 2008 - Release of final report
February 2009 - Universities Australia response to report recommendations
March 2009 - Initial government response to report recommendations
May 2009 - Comprehensive response "Transforming Australia's Higher Education System" announced as part of the 2009 Federal Budget
Cutler Review Timeline
January 2008 - Review of the National Innovation System announced by Senator the Hon. Kim Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science & Research)
April 2008 - Universities Australia submission to the review
September 2008 - Release of final report "venturousaustralia - building strength in innovation"
September 2008 - Universities Australia response to report recommendations
May 2009 - Government response "Powering Ideas: an innovation agenda for the 21st century" announced as part of the 2009 Federal Budget