Welcome to the February edition of the Noticeboard, a monthly update with news and opportunities from around the sector. If you have anything you’d like to share with members please contact our Policy and Communications Officer Rebekah Harms.
The DASSH Lounge
Join the DASSH Lounge, our exclusive LinkedIn group for DASSH Members where we share the latest news, jobs and opportunities from DASSH and around the sector.
The DASSH Lounge is reserved for members and is a great place to let people know you’re hiring, hosting an event or working on a collaborative project, so feel free to post any updates. You can also use it to simply engage with colleagues in conversation.
News from dassh
Make sure you check out our upcoming dates for member gatherings, the annual conference and more at the end of this email.
Stay tuned as we roll out a series of discussions with colleagues in the US. Executive Director Jane Ryan travelled to the States late last year and met with Deans and peak bodies, bringing home with her some great interviews to share with members. They will be shared on our website over the coming months.
2024 is shaping up to be an important year in the higher education policy space. Here are some things to keep an eye out for this year:
- The Universities Accord Final Report will be released any day now. The report contains 47 recommendations to reform the higher education sector.
- Aotearoa New Zealand will be undertaking its own review of the higher education sector. An announcement about this review is expected in coming months.
- The Support for Students policy will come into effect in April. This policy aims to increase support for students at most risk of failing their courses.
- Consultation is currently underway on a proposed National Skills Passport with a decision by government expected later this year.
- The Australian Research Council Amendment (Review Response) Bill 2023 has been tabled in parliament. The Bill is currently being investigated by the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee.
- New Australian science and research priorities will be announced. Consultation on a draft set of priorities was undertaken towards the end of last year.
- Jobs and Skills Australia will be seeking submissions on a Skills Taxonomy.
- DASSH is working closely with Jobs and Skills Australia on their use of course descriptions to map skills outcomes. You will have an opportunity to get involved soon!
DASSH-led Research update
Our own research on the decline of the arts, social sciences and humanities is gathering momentum and we are working across organisations to collate and analyse the data. Over coming months we will be releasing our initial findings. We are forging partnerships in a bid to share resources and dig deeper with some qualitative research. An important part of this process will be presenting information about the value of the disciplines to Australian society, the workforce and economy, national security and more.
Also on the horizon is the imminent release of two impact statements on the value of our disciplines. We have created two reports – one for Aotearoa New Zealand and one for Australia which we will use to kick off the year with a targeted advocacy campaign.
Student preferences not fees should drive funding
The issue of university fees and funding has heated up with a number of university bodies calling for big changes in pre-budget submissions.
The Universities Accord panel wrote in its interim report that JRG needs to be ‘redesigned before it causes long term damage’, damage that was most obvious in the skyrocketing of fees paid by humanities and social sciences students.
DASSH has consistently argued the attempt to drive student choice through price signalling under the JRG package was flawed, ineffective and unfair.
Any changes must not be driven by a desire to influence student preferences or behaviour. The system must allow student preferences to drive study choices.
Changes to funding levels must be focused on student needs. This will become urgent if student numbers grow to meet the levels envisioned in the interim report. An expanded student body will come with much greater demands on student support. This will best be met with a needs-based approach to funding across the sector.
The Universities Accord final report has been handed to the Minister for Education Jason Clare. The sector awaits its imminent release to find out not only what the panel has recommended, but what will be implemented.
DASSH members, led by President Nick Bisley, want to see a fair model driven by student preferences and student need and where the full cost of university teaching, which includes the cost of undertaking basic research, is recognised.
National Skills Passport
The Departments of Education and of Employment and Workplace Relations are seeking feedback on a proposed National Skills Passport. The Universities Accord Panel addressed the proposal in its Interim Report after it was first canvassed in the Employment White Paper. The departments are asking for feedback on the proposal to capture and present workers’ skills and attainments to employers and provide guidance on further study options.
Skills, job outcomes and industry engagement are set to be key features of the 2024 policy landscape. We encourage you to get involved in this important conversation early. We plan to provide constructive and clear advice and feedback to the Departments of Education and of Employment and Workplace Relations, Jobs and Skills Australia and the Federal Government on these key issues throughout the year.
You can read the consultation paper here.
You can see more on the Skills Passport in the Interim Report here.
You can see the Employment White Paper here.
Submissions close 18 February.
Wednesday 7 February
11am – 12pm (AEDT)
Around the traps
The higher education sector is waiting with bated breath for the release of the Universities Accord Final Report which was presented by the Accord Panel to the Minister for Education late last year. Word is that the report will be released to the public in late February. We’ll provide you with insights and analysis as soon as it is released.
Support for Students policy
The Australian government has announced the Support for Students policy will take effect in April. After this date, institutions will be required to have their own Support for Students policy in place, although recent changes to the legislation have made the requirements less onerous for institutions. Read more here.
Important dates in 2024
Announcing scheduled events for the 2024 calendar year.
Wednesday to Friday, 18-20 September
Wednesday 13 November