The Department of Education and Training has released, very quietly as is its wont, membership of the Equity Research and Innovation Panel. “The panel will provide strategic advice to the department on Australian Government-funded research and trials on student equity in higher education,” DET innocuously announces.
The Group of Eight says the panel’s, “expertise and breadth of experience … is a new step in delivering strategic advice on equity initiatives.”
But the Innovative Research Universities warn that members will need to address equity issues in an all of university context, that the source of, “most funds for students from equity backgrounds is the Commonwealth Grant Scheme payment that supports the mainstream university activities.”
Which makes the panel’s work important, perhaps more important than it appears.
The government says undergraduate growth places from 2020 will be allocated on the basis of performance metrics, on which the higher education community will have ample chance to engage and comment. And the panel includes exactly the experts to influence the way equity issues are involved in setting growth targets, perhaps suggested by the presence of public service representatives (below) on the panel who might be there to discourage this. Membership is: Penny Jane Burke, UniNewcastle. Daniel Edwards, Australian Council for Educational Research. Anne Hampshire, The Smith Family. Leanne Holt, Macquarie University. Mary Kelly, QUT. Sue Kilpatrick UTas. Wojtek Tomaszewski, UoQ. Sue Trinidad, National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. Denise Wood, Central Queensland University.
Demonstrating how serious their work is two DET officials are ex officio members, Robert Latta and Paul Corcoran. And demonstrating how really seriously the government views it there is also a representative of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Patrick Burford.