The Business Council of Australia welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report. The Accord offers a unique opportunity to reshape the higher education sector into one that is responsive to industry and meets Australia’s future skills needs.
Universities and the tertiary sector are central to Australia’s economic and social progress. They foster the research, innovation and discovery that will generate the new big ideas to position Australia as a frontier economy. They train Australia’s future workforce and drive new industries through innovative research. And they support our relationships with other countries through collaborations with overseas institutions and the education of international students.
The Business Council commends the wide-ranging and thoughtful ideas, options and analysis provided in the Interim Report. We have focussed our submission on the three key areas: future skills needs, university funding and governance, and research and development.
Move past a narrow focus on qualifications that align with traditional occupations or industries and think about skills standards and competencies. Learning should be a lifelong pursuit, with people accessing industry-responsive training throughout their career.
- Increase delivery and integration of short, stackable training options, including industry-delivered microcredentials, consistent with the new National Microcredentials Framework.
- Develop a nationally consistent approach to Work-Integrated Learning.
- Develop a national framework for a digital, portable skills sharing system to enable Australians to share their portfolio of education and skills with employers.
Develop a new post-secondary education and training funding model that breaks down silos between sectors and ensures job-ready graduates.
- Implement a tertiary guarantee funding model that puts the learner in control of their education and is funded by a variety of sources.
- Establish a Tertiary Education Commission as a mechanism to improve system transparency, coordination, oversight and connect all types of post-secondary education.
- Further examine and resolve the role of international student fees in funding higher education, with a focus on long-term fiscal stability and growth.
Increase the capacity and capability of universities to proactively undertake research collaboration with industry. At the same time, remove the barriers for industry – particularly small-medium sized enterprises – to partner with universities and bring innovative new ideas to market.
- Establish a National Future Industries Council that focuses on research commercialisation and industry development for future prosperity.
- Review and improve existing incentives to deliver non-taxpayer research funding sources, such as the Research and Development Tax Incentive (R&DTI). Consideration should be given to a collaboration premium.
- Explore mechanisms to incentivise and support start-ups.
- Develop a National Research Register.