Universities Accord report focuses on 80% HE attainment for Australians

This will mean an expansion of university or VET-level capacity and a new approach to funding to ensure disadvantaged students are likely to succeed.

Another central tenet of the report is more seamless integration between vocational and university delivery.

On the international side, the report is suggesting greater diversification of international student recruitment and a clear alignment to skills needs.

Minister for Education, Jason Clare, commented,  “The Accord says that in the years ahead, we will need 80% of the workforce to not just finish high school, we will need them to finish TAFE or university as well.

“The Accord will help to drive this change. It will help us build a better and fairer education system where no one is held back, and no one is left behind.”

The report acknowledges the significant positioning of international students, contributing one-fifth of overall university funding.

But it sounds concern on both the demand side (fluctuations in demand) and supply side (quality and integrity issues).

It suggests international students – especially those seeking a migration pathway – should be better oriented towards “courses linked to Australian skill shortages and to study in regional locations”.

This would be “In line with the Australian Government’s Migration Strategy goal for a better targeted system”.

Ongoing reputation of Australian education for international students should be safeguarded, it recommends, by regulator TEQSA taking an “evidence-based approach to ensure that providers have appropriate risk management strategies for international education to issues including managing demand volatility, course concentrations and the quality of the student experience, and access and availability of affordable housing”.

It also calls for “diversifying markets to avoid overreliance on a small number of countries”.

CEO of Tafe Directors Australia, Jenny Dodd, said the report recognises the central role of technical and further education (TAFE) in meeting Australia’s skills targets and the great opportunity to enhance its contribution, especially for equity groups.

“This is a landmark piece of work that sets out a clear path to creating a seamless tertiary education sector where there is greater collaboration and integration between universities and TAFEs,” she said.

“The report recognises the enormous potential for TAFEs, with their established links with students and industry, to work together with universities to deliver the significantly larger numbers of tertiary students.”

The report’s recommendations – which Minister Clare said the government would now consider – has been published soon after Australia’s migration strategy, released in December 2023.


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