What Birmingham wants to stay on the university agenda

At time of writing Dan Tehan is the education minister but even if this does not change later today he will have less than a year over-sighting universities and other HE providers before he faces the people – which suggests he should try to finish fights already underway than start ones of his own. That certainly seems to be outgoing minister Simon Birmingham’s thinking, who nominated priority areas in his farewell statement.

So, if Mr Tehan is interested in the senator’s suggestions the HE community should expect action, or at least announcements on:

* STEM education – from schools to teacher education

* applied research – with the new impact and engagement measures of research performance due in the new year Senator Birmingham made a point of mentioning, “we have made collaboration between researchers and industry easier.”

* admissions and transparency. Minister Birmingham oversaw efforts to end the power of the impenetrable ATAR, opaque admissions schemes and high attrition rates, it appears he hopes Mr Tehan will keep an eye on all of them.

* “performance principles,” notably graduate employment.  This will likely be the one that matters most. With demand driven funding gone Senator Birmingham has tied funding for UG growth places from 2020 to as yet unannounced performance metrics.  These were promised this year and it is now up to Minister Tehan to see them through. Unless of course he sees the political sense in allocating growth places, according to the cases made by individual universities. In 2016 he secured a funding commitment for Deakin U’s struggling Warrnambool campus, which is in his electorate.


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