19 July 2023

The Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) believes the depth of work behind the Universities Accord interim report and immediate actions outlined by Accord Chair, Professor Mary O’Kane AC and her expert panel for Education Minister Jason Clare will deliver stability and strong foundations for the sector, as the longer-term plans are debated and developed.

ATN Executive Director, Luke Sheehy, said he was pleased to see that ATN’s key recommendations are at the heart of the report tabled today and they will provide certainty for universities, their communities and the next generation of students and teachers.

“This is an Accord built on fairness, it includes both meaningful short-term reforms and long-term goals which will benefit the entire sector and shape higher education for the next 30 years,” Mr Sheehy said.

“The proposals will lead to generational change and confirms that this has been a genuine and thoughtful consultation period with the reforms reflecting much of what we have been asking for.”

The interim report includes 81 considerations, and there are also five priority actions – they are:

• Establishing up to 20 new regional university study hubs and up to 14 Suburban University Study Hubs
• Removal of the Job-ready Graduates 50 per cent pass rule, delivering better equity
• Extending the demand driven system to include all First Nations students
• Extending the Higher Education Continuity Guarantee for government funding to 2024 and 2025; and,
• Cross-government (Federal, State and Territory) collaboration to improve university governance.

“A universal approach to tertiary education is also unfinished business in this country, and a universal, lifelong system of post-secondary education, including universities and TAFEs as key public anchor institutions, is fundamental to improving our skills, research, international engagement, industry cooperation and cultural development,” Mr Sheehy added.

The panel has outlined a six-week consultation period on the interim report.

“Our universities look forward to working closely with the Minister and our friends in higher education to ensure the implementation of these big, bold ideas.”