Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said more than half the one million jobs to be created in the coming years will require a university degree, while investment in research and development is at a 15-year low.
“Australia urgently needs more of what universities offer and we’re calling for the government’s full support to make this possible,” Ms Jackson said.
“Universities are vital to how Australia responds to shifts in global, domestic and economic landscapes.
“Skill shortages, economic uncertainty, geopolitical tensions and a new industrial revolution are changing the way we live and operate. We have no time to waste in preparing for these challenges, and universities have a crucial role to play.
“More jobs in the future will require a degree and demand for research and development, to guide national priorities like the energy transition and AUKUS, is only growing.
“Our role in supporting Australia’s safety, success and prosperity is more important than ever, but universities can’t continue to keep doing more with less. We need the full support of government.”
In a submission to the Australian Universities Accord panel, our proposals to underpin a strong higher education system that can keep delivering for the nation include:
- Establishing a new vision- and place-based deal with government to best enable universities to serve their communities and meet the nation’s priorities.
- Replacing the Job-ready Graduates package with a funding model that recognises the value of all university degrees to our nation.
- Breaking down barriers to university to unlock the full potential of all Australians, including by extending uncapped places to all Indigenous peoples.
- Developing the knowledge and skills Australia needs through a National Lifelong Learning Strategy and an increased focus on work-integrated learning and placements.
- Funding university research and development, from all government portfolios, to at least the OECD average by 2030, to ensure Australia can build and maintain its sovereign capability.
- Boosting cooperation with industry to drive innovation and the creation of new industries and exports to protect Australia’s status as a leading global economy.
“University graduates, regardless of the degree they study, deliver significant social benefits and drive the economy, making it $185 billion bigger than it otherwise would be,” Ms Jackson said.
“Price signals as a driver of student choice simply do not work, which is why we’re calling for the Job-ready Graduates package to be replaced.
“Access to higher education is another issue desperately needing to be addressed. A person’s location, background or ethnicity should never be a barrier to a university education.
“Every Australian should be able to attend university if they want to.
“Our ability to respond to challenges and opportunities in the future will be measured by the standard of the research and development universities perform on behalf of our nation.
“If we want to be a serious research nation, we’ve got to fund research properly and quickly.
“Government funding is falling while the cost of doing research is rising, forcing universities to rely on international student fee revenue to support these vital endeavours. This is not sustainable.
“We will continue to work closely with Minister Clare, Professor O’Kane and the panel to strengthen the foundation from which universities serve Australia.”
Universities Australia’s submission in response to the Australian Universities Accord Panel Discussion Paper is available here.