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Universities Accord The Chance To Create A Level Playing Field

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) 3 mins read

With the great backing of members, the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) has set out the sector’s response to the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report.  The approach has been to provide a series of student-centric reforms that would end the different policy treatments for public and independent institutions.  ITECA is the peak body representing independent providers in the skills training, higher education, and international education sectors.

“After careful analysis and extensive member consultation, ITECA Higher Education has highlighted the inherent disparities between public and independent institutions in student funding, access to research funding, and regulatory approaches.  These were not adequately in the Interim Report,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.

ITECA Higher Education emphasises the urgent need to put students at the heart of the Australian Universities Accord reforms, creating an integrated tertiary education system that supports lifelong learning.

“Reforms associated with the Australian Universities Accord should be agnostic when it comes to institution type, creating a level playing field for independent institutions and public institutions, along with their students,” Mr Williams said.

The key issues identified by ITECA Higher Education members include those set out below.

Competitive Neutrality In Higher Education ~

An unfortunate hallmark of Australia’s higher education system is the disparity between the policy-level treatment of public and independent institutions that compromises student’s ability to access the higher education institution of their choice.  The Accord reforms should end the inequities in funding, regulation, and research grant access and allocation.

An Integrated Tertiary Education System ~

The Australian Universities Accord reform process offers the opportunity to transform tertiary education by improving student access and removing red tape.  A reform priority should be to create an integrated tertiary education system, where the higher education system and skills training system operate as one yet retain their separate strengths and identities.

A Genuine Universal Learning Entitlement ~

ITECA Higher Education acknowledges and is broadly receptive to the proposed 'Universal Learning Entitlement' as highlighted in the interim report.  However, ITECA Higher Education argues that the scope and breadth of the approach merit further expansion to become student-centric thus ensuring that it is genuinely universal in scope and can genuinely be called an entitlement.

Ending The Student Loan Tax ~

There must be an end to the unjust nature of the FEE-HELP loan fee – the student loan tax – that results in two students undertaking the same degree program at separate institutions facing substantially different financial outcomes based solely on their choice of institution.

Strengthening The Sector’s Research Capability ~

For Australia’s higher education sector to realise its full potential, it's crucial that independent institutions are neither sidelined nor stifled in access to research funding. Independent institutions should be granted the same opportunity to access research funds as their public counterparts.

Supporting A Sustainable International Education Sector ~

A central point of contention in the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report is the proposal to introduce an 'international student levy.'  Such a proposal has not only been met with broad scepticism but has been firmly rejected as a tax on learning.

“The Australian government has said that the Australian Universities Accord reform process should bring about generational change.  The reforms set out ITECA Higher Education members achieve this and will put students at the heart of the higher education system,” Mr Williams said.

The ability of ITECA Higher Education to enter into meaningful discussion with the Australian Government on these topics is strengthened by the fact that the Minister for Education has appointed Mr Williams to the Australian Universities Accord Ministerial Reference Group.

The development of the Accord is a critical issue for independent higher education institutions that support more than 10% of the 1.6 million students in a higher education awards program.

Ends.

 


Key Facts:

The 'Australian Universities Accord' policy review Australian Government's approach to higher education reform.

ITECA Higher Education has provided to a response to the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report that says government policy should essentially be the same for both public and independent institiutions.


About us:

ITECA Introduction:  Formed in 1992, ITECA is the peak body representing independent providers in the skills training, higher education, and international education sectors.


Contact details:

Troy Williams - ITECA Chief Executive
e: leadership@HigherEducation.org.au
t: 1300 421 017     m: 0400 599 934

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