Group of Eight’s Accord big call for new system

Mary O’Kane says she wants the authors of her submissions to her HE Accord team to think big and be bold (CMM February 22). The Group of Eight has done just that in a comprehensive plan that would transform funding and end the unified national system 

The Go8’s proposal-rich submission includes calls for,

* integrating VET and HE, with both-direction pathways and a target of 75 per cent of 25-39 year olds with, or working to, post Y12 qualifications by 2040

* a tertiary education commission, advising the Commonwealth on funding allocation and “to assist in brokering accords and other agreements, including funding between the government and HE providers.” The commission would support the independent board of a TE system fund, along the lines of the now abolished HE endowment and education investment funds

* a national research strategy and “an overarching government body” with all-agency oversight

* an HE sector, “that is diverse in its offerings.” “Specialist institutions can concentrate in excellence where they excel,” examples are, UG teaching, “disciplinary specialisation,” “advanced research and education,” “professional training, “comprehensive research programmes or more focused ones”.

* “newly constituted” federally funded research-intensive universities which also provide infrastructure and support for other institutions’ research

* a single student contribution (ex medicine and similar) and Commonwealth contributions “to reflect the variability” of full qualification costs. Graduates of courses with “higher private financial benefit” progressively income-taxed.