Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said such an inquiry would be a significant and substantial piece of work involving many complex issues in governance, structures and public investment.
“It’s crucial that the starting point for this discussion is an understanding that it is not an ‘either/or’ between TAFE and higher education. Universities want and need a strong TAFE and vocational educational system.
“The greatest tragedy would be if this debate were to lead to an ‘us vs them’ discussion. I encourage every stakeholder in this debate to understand the different but complementary roles that the component parts of our tertiary education system play.
“Australia’s competitive position is dependent on a properly-funded, strong, vibrant and dynamic tertiary education system. This can only be achieved by investing properly in all parts of the system.”
“The damage inflicted by budget cuts to vocational education serves as a cautionary tale about the harm that funding cuts can inflict in education.”
Many Australian universities partner with TAFEs and vocational education providers across the country – and some universities offer both higher and vocational education programs.
In developing its terms of reference, we encourage the inquiry to consider the diversity that exists within the higher education system.
An inquiry would also be well placed to examine the breadth of tertiary education and research providers to position to the nation for success. This is crucial in a rapidly-changing industrial, social, technological, geo-political and economic environment.
Other matters for consideration include policy, regulatory and jurisdictional impediments to a more integrated tertiary education system; reaffirming the demand driven system as the only credible approach to address future labour market needs and equitable access; and the critical role of tertiary education providers in regional, remote and outer metropolitan communities.