UA marks down Business Council but keen to cooperate

While pointing to “misconceptions” in the Business Council of Australia’s tertiary education plan, peak body UA says it is “keen to work constructively with the BCA to develop ideas for effective policy proposals.”

Universities Australia is critical of last year’s BCA strategy on fundamental grounds, notably the business body’s position on demand driven funding, which; “encourages the view that the demand-driven system of funding university places imposes unpredictable, ongoing increases in the fiscal cost of higher education.”

UA also rejects the idea that an integrated tertiary education system could be supported with existing resources; “ This implies a zero sum game. There is no reason to lock in current levels of total funding where these are not adequate. The solution to inadequate VET funding is better VET funding – not even more inadequate higher education funding.”

And it warns against attempting to improve VET by risking HE success, through a single funding system. “The last thing anyone would want is for Australia’s very successful higher education sector to be subjected to the kind of rapidly changing, poorly considered policy and funding interventions that have damaged VET in the past decade. This would harm higher education and do nothing to improve VET.”

However UA concludes that it is, “keen to work with BCA to develop further the elements of a stable policy and funding framework that enhances the strengths of our existing system.” For a start it suggests steps business should take, including: providing high-quality work placements,” working, “with universities to develop higher-end vocational programs in higher education,” and research co-investment, “to create high-value add products and jobs.”

This is sensible stuff. With Simon Birmingham not publicly well disposed to universities just now UA needs to run a policy debate independent of the government. It needs industry help to do it.


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