Universities Australia makes this submission to the Productivity Commission's Annual Review of Regulatory Burdens on Business -- Social and Economic Infrastructure Services on behalf of Australia's universities, which, due to their broad activities in higher education and research, are appropriately subject to a range of government regulation.
Australia's universities are, however, subject to a wide range of regulatory reporting requirements which are excessive and are causing inefficiencies.
There are immediate policy reforms necessary that will have the effect of improving the ability of Australia's universities to focus their activities on their core business of teaching, research and community engagement, and these are discussed throughout this submission. Universities Australia makes the following recommendations:
Recommendation 1: Replace the existing Institutional Assessment Framework with a streamlined triennial meeting covering institutional strategy and benchmarks for mission-specific funding.
Recommendation 2: Streamline and make consistent the regulatory and reporting obligations of institutions offering both vocational and higher education qualifications.
Recommendation 3: Initiate an external audit of the relevance and accuracy of the data collected by universities for DEEWR each year.
Recommendation 4: Review the collection of course information and the Going to Uni website with a view to abolishing them if they are not of widespread value to prospective students.
Recommendation 5: Designate a single Commonwealth officer at the Deputy Secretary level to be responsible for the oversight of university compliance and reporting requirements, supported by a committee including representatives from the higher education sector.
Recommendation 6: Maintain a register of all Commonwealth compliance and reporting requirements for universities and their timeframes on the DEEWR website.
Recommendation 7: Abolish the present student learning entitlement.
Recommendation 8: Consolidate university special purpose funding into a small number of funding streams to be negotiated and reported against jointly through the triennial planning process proposed in Recommendation 1.
Recommendation 9: Review the current format of the Research and Research Training Management Report with a view to shortening and streamlining the content.
Recommendation 10: Retain the primary responsibility of universities for consideration of research misconduct allegations when the Government finalises its position on misconduct.
Recommendation 11: Review Part B of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research with a view to improving its effectiveness and transparency.
To read the full submission, download the PDF below.