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Australia: Opposition party releases white paper on higher education

Australia’s Labor party, the opposition party headed by Kim Beazley, has just presented a proposal on a new policy framework for higher education, research and innovation that, in their opinion, would fit Australia’s needs.

The paper features the current characteristics of these fields describing them as inflexible and underfunded while it raises concerns about the quality of Australian degrees. In addition, it provides policy proposals concerning quality, university financing, student participation and support, research and innovation.

Labor proposes to:

  • Increase public investment in higher education and research;
  • Establish a new Australian Higher Education Quality Agency;
  • End government interference in the internal management of universities, and reduce compliance and reporting burdens;
  • Provide universities with funding for education, research and research education, community outreach and innovative activities;
  • Give all academic staff the opportunity to conduct research;
  • Improve financial support for students;
  • Develop major research hubs;
  • Invest in long-term programmes in the fields of science, mathematics, engineering and technology;
  • Establish Enterprise Connect, a network to connect people in business with experts in universities and public research agencies.

ACA’s Australian associate member, the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (AVCC) welcomed Labor’s commitment to focus on Austalia’s innovation capacity. AVCC president professor Gerard Sutton stated: “Australia has a higher proportion of its research workforce in higher education institutions than almost any other OECD country, and the bulk of the nation’s key research infrastructure is in universities and other publicly funded research organisations”. He added that AVCC welcomes any discussions on strategies aimed at building skills, infrastructure and productivity and that AVCC will continue to work with the government and the opposition party to ensure that future policy and election initiatives will recognise the importance of the higher education sector in building the country’s economic and social prosperity.

Australia’s universities: Building our future in the world
Australian Labor Party