Universities Accord Interim Report

Posted in News on 19 July 2023

The Australian Universities Accord Interim Report has identified five priority recommendations for immediate action which the Government has committed to implement.

The Panel has also identified more than 70 areas for consideration in the final report. Many of the ideas raised by the Panel reflect the tone and ambition of the recommendations put forward in DASSH’s submission to the Accord Discussion Paper earlier this year. In addition, around half of the recommendations raised by DASSH have been directly referenced in the report.

The possibility of implementing a bursary scheme has not been addressed in the Interim Report. However, the Panel has recommended that the 50% pass rule be ceased as was advocated by DASSH. As one of their priority actions, this recommendation will be implemented by the Government.

Indigenous Knowledges and People

As part of its commitment to implement the Panel’s five priority actions, the Government will ensure that all First Nations students (incl. metropolitan students) will be eligible for a funded place at university. The value and importance of Indigenous Knowledges has been recognised in the Interim Report, although the issue of Indigenous participation has still been largely framed as a deficit issue.

Knowledge Economy

The Interim Report has largely associated knowledge with skills. The next consultation phase gives us an opportunity to reinforce the value of the knowledge economy, the opportunities it presents for Australia and the role of HASS disciplines in this development

Equity and Access

Equity and access are key themes in the Interim Report. It sets out a set of ideas for increasing participation by students from underrepresented groups. The Panel has also recommended that the Job-ready Graduates package be redesigned. It will spend the next few months tackling the issue of fee setting.

What the independent review said about Job-Ready Graduates

  • The package aimed to be ‘budget neutral’ but in fact decreased total base funding per equivalent full-time student by 5 per cent. 
  • Base funding reductions to several priority fields (such as education, mathematics, science, engineering, nursing, psychology and allied health) have made teaching them financially unsustainable.
  • The attempt to incentivise students to move to fields of national priority and away from fields such as humanities has had little effect on student choice.
  • Student contributions have mainly led to some students incurring significantly higher debts that they are unlikely to repay in reasonable timeframes (if at all).
  • Increased student contributions are now at historical highs and are unfairly affecting female students and Indigenous students. This is considered untenable.

Next steps

Submissions will be due on 1 September, with the Panel due to release their final report in December. We have hosted another round of consultations with Members in the lead up to our submission. Feedback from a recent workshop with Members will also be used to inform the submission.