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OECD report on tertiary education in Australia

The OECD through the Directorate for Education and Training, recently released a report on Australian tertiary education context which has one of the highest graduation rates in the OECD countries (higher than either Japan or the United Kingdom).  This is seen as a result of the Australian Government’s funding (in 2007 it will provide approximately 6 billion Euro in funding to the higher education sector) and its policy role of assuring quality. Conversely, the report emphasises the increase in enrolments of overseas students in the Australian higher education. Overseas students comprise 26% of student load across all higher education institutions, and even if the majority (80%) of overseas students come from the Asian region, a wide range of countries is represented.

The Australian higher education system is comprised of 39 universities of which 37 are public institutions. The country had an overseas branch university, the University of New South Wales in Singapore, that closed its doors at the end of last June due to a tiny student population and lack of support of the Singaporean government.

According to the report, all indicators of quality are trending positively in spite of the continuing growth of the sector. To carry on at this pace, some of the recommendations made by the OECD are:

  • to improve incentive structures at the national, regional, and institutional levels to support the regional engagement of the universities and their staff;
  • to develop region-wide collaboration and shared strategies, including inter-university collaboration to support the knowledge economy agenda;
  • to link an international component to regional strategy especially in terms of growing and making good use of international students and links in partnership with local firms and agencies;
  • to further develop existing partnerships and create better gateways for local SMEs to access the universities and expand student entrepreneurship programmes.

OECD report