Group of Eight slams government: “facts should not be a constant casualty”

The Group of Eight has slammed Education Minister Simon Birmingham, saying “the facts should not be a constant casualty of government media statements and interviews.”

In a statement last night CEO Vicki Thomson attacked Senator Birmingham for comments last week on undergraduate attrition (CMM November 29) saying he is ignoring universities efforts to improve and the impact of demand driven funding and structural changes to the economy.

“The minister appears to refuse to acknowledge that the workforce graduates are attempting to enter today is far more complex than during the ‘short and medium-term employment… highs’ of the last decade. Since then we have seen far more bachelor qualified graduates enter the market via the demand driven system; the rise of a much more global market for talent; restructuring of the Australian economy through the cyclical downturn of the mining boom and the rise of the ‘gig economy’; the demise of some industries in Australia (witness the exit of Holden), and new models entering the Australian market, as encapsulated in companies like Amazon,” Ms Thomson said yesterday.

She added all Group of Eight universities have better than national average figures for both attrition and completions and that despite graduates taking “a little longer to navigate their way through this much more complex maze” and employers “taking some time to work out how best to use this new, more highly skilled workforce,” “long term employment trends still show that graduates achieve strong employment rates in the medium term.”

Ms Thomson called on the minister to work with universities and accept the Group of Eight’s call for a “system-wide review”.

“We are not fighting against the government in wanting the best student outcomes. We are more than keen on applying what the minister describes as a “laser focus” to the subject. We are already accountable and happy to be so. In fact, the Go8 has been agitating the government for many months for promised consultations on the best way forward,” she said.


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