Great Accord expectations: tertiary ed stakeholders ask for more

Mary O’Kane and Accord colleagues will have had a dickens of a job addressing all the ideas in submissions

Last week Professor O’Kane thanked HE stakeholders for their enthusiastic response to her call for “bold ideas.” The Accord Panel’s imminent interim report will “reflect on all we have heard,” she said.

Which is quite a bit – the feds asked consultants Nous Group to report on what the 185 submissions addressed, according to the Accord’s terms of reference.

Nous found,

* 149 included access to HE and improved outcomes for people from low SES/disadvantaged groups. This was wise, given Education Minister Jason Clare has made it clear that this matters to him. It would have been wiser if more than 55 submissions had covered student experience, which is always politically sell-able

* 147 submissions addressed skills, life-long learning and pathways/ providers across HE and VET.  This was sensible, given the government’s  emphasis on TAFE (it’s Labor language for training) and courses that meet community-recognised needs.

* But there were also calls for resources, in some cases to do more of the same, but better.

Terms of reference relating to research were addressed 216 times; way more than teaching and learning’s 57.

* The widely disliked Jobs Ready Graduates model is in 57 submissions, particularly its reduction of the government’s CSP contribution for some STEMM disciplines, the increase in student contributions for HASS, business and law and its pass rate requirement.

And implicit through submissions is establishing long-term funding, “to support strategic and financial planning.”

Which makes it strange that it was largely left to peak-lobbies to propose a way to do it – which is not prominent in the digest of submissions.

The Group of Eight calls for, “a tertiary education commission,” to “assist in brokering accords and other agreements, including funding between the government and HE providers.”  

The Australian Technology Network wants an independent authority. And the Innovative Research Universities, “a dedicated body to provide leadership and oversight and provide independent advice to government.”

It’s a new idea for a model that used to exist, (the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission) and it might fix problems for the government, by giving ministers cover in fights over funding.

Of which there will be plenty, whatever Professor O’Kane and colleagues suggest.

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