“Australia’s future prosperity will be determined by how well we navigate the major forces reshaping our economy today,” Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said.
“These forces include an ageing population, digitalisation, climate change and the energy transition, rising demand for care services and increased geopolitical risks.
“These are national challenges and opportunities we simply can’t rise to without universities – either through the research and development we undertake, or by the skilled workers we educate.
“As the Treasurer made clear, education is key to equipping Australians with the skills and knowledge they need to flourish and prosper.
“These people will make up a bigger and more highly skilled workforce that will lift Australia’s productivity fortunes and drive economic growth. Universities are here to help.
“The skilled workers universities educate make our economy hundreds of billions of dollars bigger and underpin a higher standard of living for all Australians, regardless of where they live.
“We need more of them to meet our skills needs. Falling short of employment projections for skilled workers will cost the economy $7 billion by 2026, risking our ability to pay for essential services.
“University research and development activities are also essential to Australia’s technological and social advancement, which is why we must do more, but we can’t do more with less.
“If we could lift investment in higher education research and development by just one per cent, we could raise productivity and increase the size of Australia’s economy by $24 billion over 10 years.
“We need to do everything we can to lift Australia’s productivity and move towards a more modern and faster growing economy. Australia’s universities are at the heart of this.
“Constant tweaks to our policy and funding settings have seen university places capped and government investment in R&D fall to its lowest ever share of gross domestic product.
“The Albanese Government has an opportunity to address these problems through the Australian Universities Accord.
“This process is an opportunity to set the higher education sector up for the future, to ensure our institutions can continue to deliver for all Australians. There is too much at stake to get it wrong.”