January 2018

High quality tertiary education and training is more important to Australia than ever before. The industries and jobs of the future will depend increasingly on innovation and skills. Improving productivity will be vital to maintain our prosperity and standard of living. A greater share of our population will need to be equipped with the adaptable, transferrable skills that are shaped by high quality post-school learning.

Universities Australia (UA) agrees with the Business Council of Australia (BCA) that education, training and skills are critical to ‘future-proof’ Australia against a backdrop of profound economic, industrial, demographic and social change. Education builds resilience in individuals, firms and nations.

Any change to post-school education policy settings must be grounded in the principle of inclusion – which sees the entire community benefit from economic growth and progress. This is crucial at a time when large-scale economic change risks dislocation and disadvantage for vulnerable sections of our community. High participation in tertiary education bolsters social cohesion and works against entrenched disadvantage and the political dislocation it brings.

UA welcomes the BCA’s continuing interest in tertiary education. While we support many of the underpinning principles and concepts articulated in the paper, many of the recommendations require further development and would benefit from a more robust evidentiary base. Universities are also disappointed that the paper does not outline the contribution that business can and should make to equipping the nation’s young people for the workforce of tomorrow.

We are keen to work with the BCA to develop practical policy proposals to enhance the strengths of Australia’s tertiary education system.

In our submission, we address some misconceptions in the ‘Future Proof’ paper about higher education. We also call on business to take a more active and direct role in contributing to the development of a highly skilled workforce to meet the labour market needs of the future.

UA looks forward to further discussion with the BCA on these important issues.

For the full submission, click here (PDF 539KB).