ACU backs unified higher education vision

Acting Vice-Chancellor Pauline Nugent has commended a statement on higher education policy sent to all Australian political parties recently.

The university sector’s first comprehensive higher education policy agenda, A Smarter Australia, is a pivotal step in securing the future of the central role of universities in Australia’s future, and was distributed to all political parties as they develop their respective policy positions on higher education in the lead up  to the election.

Professor Nugent said A Smarter Australia provided a strategy for a smarter, stronger and more prosperous Australia by building on Australia’s comparative advantage in higher education.

The policy statement, developed over the past 12 months, responds to four trends driving change in Australian higher education: the emergence of digital technologies; increasing globalisation and growing international competition in the Asian century; the need for economic and industrial renewal and diversification; and the need to arrest declining national productivity.

Over the past two decades, investment in higher education and research has not kept pace with the rest of the developed world. An increase in the level of investment made in recent years has not been sufficient to lift Australia from the bottom 20 per cent of OECD nations for the level of public investment made in universities. A Smarter Australia calls for a partnership between the university sector and government to establish a practical and pragmatic policy framework around four key themes:

  • Increasing Australians’ university participation
  • Developing Australia’s globally engaged university sector
  • A powerful research and innovation system that drives economic and social progress
  • Increasing investment, improving efficiency and reducing red tape  

Universities Australia will mount a public campaign to promote a better understanding of role and contribution of universities to the economic and social wellbeing of all Australians.