The Universities Accord team propose a coherent tertiary system to enable realisation of their big idea; a “universal learning entitlement, “that helps all Australians access high-quality tertiary education” and “make lifelong learning a reality.”
And by “tertiary” Mary O’Kane and colleagues mean higher education and VET – the Accord Interim Report also proposes extending Commonwealth funded student places to TAFE, “in areas of crucial skill need.”
“Australia’s skills needs will only be met if the higher education system, and an expanded VET system, with TAFE at its core, work together within a more integrated system to deliver the flexible, transferable skills people want and need,” they write in yesterday’s paper that sets out the issues they will address in their final recommendations at year end.
Overall they propose a system where the distinctions between higher education and training blur and barriers are removed, to end existing “fragmentation, under-investment and competing interests between different institution and agencies.”
To make it happen the Accord team proposes a Tertiary Education Commission, to: “promote long-term strategic thinking across the tertiary education sector,” to support the establishment of the Accord and to work with state and national agencies, which “could include determining funding allocations, including through the negotiation of mission-based compacts with universities.”
“Greater diversity and innovation in institutions is unlikely to emerge without proactive government intervention. The Tertiary Education Commission could provide the strategic leadership and coordination needed to develop a more dynamic and responsive system,” Professor O’Kane and colleagues state.
Among other proposals are:
- stackable microcredentials in priority skill areas
- “new and evolving institutions, “shaped by the strongest features of both the higher education and VET sectors”
- piloting self-accrediting TAFE
- “revising” student contributions, “to ensure students are not being overwhelmed with debt”
- a “levy” on international student fee income
Notice anything missing? Research funding only gets six mentions – notably, “moving over time to ensure National Competitive Grants to cover the full-cost of undertaking research.”