Accord calls: peak bodies speak up for access and equity

Submissions are in to Mary O’Kane and colleagues who are charged with recommending a universities accord to “improve the quality, accessibility, affordability and sustainability of higher education”

The Australian Technology Network’s submits, “an effective system of universal participation and lifelong learning must be open and offer relevant choices to all”

In addition to system governance (scroll up) ATN proposals include,

* “simplified” block funding, plus activity based funds for individual universities, based on national needs/university missions

* “consistent, national standards” for university entry

* tertiary education integration with industry in priority national areas

* First Nations’ “knowledge, skills, connections” embedded in teaching, research and engagement

* critical research that “relates to sovereign capability,” “securely and fully funded”

The Regional Universities Network argues, “without access to a regional university, many regional students would have no viable opportunity to pursue tertiary participation”

Recommendations include,

* uncap student places at regional universities

* “contextualised attrition thresholds for underrepresented cohorts”

* “more effective and nuanced” student income support to account for regional Australians’ study costs of

* dedicated all of government funding pool to support universities “social charter”

* increased funding for research capacity at regional universities

* dedicated infrastructure fund with specific access for “smaller institutions”

Universities Australia argues, “universities need autonomy to determine how their services are delivered, but government must remain accountable for the use of public funds. Government funding for universities should, therefore, balance flexibility with accountability and compliance mechanisms”

Calls include;

* replace the previous government’s Job Ready Graduates student funding model, which “has, ultimately, failed to achieve its aim of driving more university graduates into areas of skills needs”

* ensure HECS HELP serves original intent of “removing financial barriers to education”

* infrastructure mechanism with equity focus, “recognising some universities … will be more reliant on government funding.” One-off funding for this could come from, “higher than expected commodity earnings”

* uncapped CSPs “for all indigenous Australians”

* “life-long learning trust providing equity-based funding skills development across careers

* full-cost of research funded by 2030

*Research and Development Tax Incentive to include premium for businesses collaborating with universities