The University Accord team floated the idea of a TEC in its discussion paper and lobbies were quick to support it – their off the record idea being that they were so scared by dealing with the coalition that an agency standing between them and the minister would be an improvement.
That it will happen is not assured but it is certainly assumed across HE, albeit not with entirely consistent clarity.
Back in April, for example, Universities Australia called for “a mechanism” to implement the Accord over decades and include an “on-going process of consultation and engagement with all stakeholders in the sector.” As to what the mechanism could be UA was agonistic, “that would be up to the government, we would work with whatever agency government decided was most appropriate.” (Campus Morning Mail, April 11 2023).
Which is pretty much what UA still thinks. Its budget submission calls for, “five-year mission- and place-based partnership agreements between universities and government” covering basic grants and project specific support. However the lobby adds nothing on managing compacts.
The Innovative Research Universities has a bigger idea for what a tertiary education commission could do. Its budget submission calls for a TEC to allocate funds to individual universities through “institution-specific agreements” and “be responsible for taking a system-wide view of progress towards agreed national targets.”
It also appears to support the TEC having funding authority, “when determining allocations through institution-specific Accord agreements, the Tertiary Education Commission could take into account other sources of non-government revenue that universities have access to, to inform decisions about priorities for government investment.”
Much like the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission did from 1977 to 1988. As William Falkner put it, the past is never dead. It’s not even past.