The Government's options paper provides broad and comprehensive coverage of the key higher education policy challenges associated with maintaining an accessible, high quality mass higher education system, against a backdrop of budget restraint.

The process presents an opportunity for the Australian Government, the university sector and all stakeholders to consider afresh the policy settings needed to support a fit-for-purpose higher education system to underpin long-term national prosperity...

Recommendations

Universities Australia opposes

1 Any further reduction to the aggregate level of per student funding under the Commonwealth Grant Scheme.

Universities Australia supports:

2 Careful design of any policies intended to improve retention, completion and employment outcomes, so that unintended consequences and perverse incentives are avoided.

3 The appointment of an Expert Advisory Panel to provide advice on the content and implementation of the overall package and to oversee the review of the cost of delivery.

4 The proposed review into the relative cost of delivery of higher education.

5 Reasonable design amendments to assure the viability and sustainability of HELP provided they are consistent with the policy objectives of the program and do not undermine the integrity of the scheme.

6 Making available the retained funds in the Education Infrastructure Fund (EIF) to all universities for university teaching and research infrastructure projects, subject to transparent criteria and processes.

7 An infrastructure fund or loan facility, potentially drawn from the retained EIF funds, to be established to enable smaller regional and outer metropolitan universities to invest in transformative infrastructure projects.

8 Establishing a timetable, over a five year period, to increase the resources available to fund the indirect costs of research.

9 The restoration of Higher Education Participation Program (HEPP) funding and the evaluation of HEPP to improve its effectiveness in addressing barriers to access to higher education by disadvantaged groups.

10 Expanding the demand driven system to university associate degree, advanced diplomas and diploma programs subject to budget affordability.

11 Convening a roundtable of key stakeholders and experts to assess all reasonable options advanced by both Governments and the sector on subsidised postgraduate places, according to principles of fairness, equitable access, transparency, public interest and efficiency.

12 Strengthening the QILT website through the inclusion of additional information that would genuinely assist in more informed decision-making.



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