For release 30th October 2023
The inaugural Faith-based Higher Education Summit is being held in Federal Parliament today and is sponsored by the Minister for Education, the Hon Jason Clare MP. For the first time in Australia’s history faith leaders, academics, and peak bodies from the sector will come together and articulate a vision for the role of faith-based higher education in the region.
A booming faith-based secondary education sector, now teaching around 50% of all secondary students in some major cities, has dramatically increased demand for diverse tertiary pathways with a faith ethos. However, sector representatives highlight the ongoing challenges around student funding inequality, access to research grants, and religious freedom that need to be addressed.
Spokesperson for the Australian Christian Higher Education Alliance (ACHEA), Dr Johan Roux (CEO – Tabor College), expressed his appreciation to the Minister for hosting the Summit.
“We are delighted that Minister Clare has been able to support this vision of bringing the faith-based higher education sector together under the Parliament roof,” Dr Roux said.
“The response has been fantastic, with Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist innovators and academics all coming and seeking to engage with how to address the education and training needs in their faith communities.”
“Faith-based higher education providers have dominated the student experience QILT rankings for many years, taking out 12 of the top 14 spots in the latest report, and it is high-time we utilise the quality, growth, innovation and diversity in the sector.”
“Faith is reason grown courageous, and today’s summit is an opportunity to bring forth that unique vision and contribution to our nation and interantionally.”
ACHEA, the facilitators of the event, represents a coalition of faith-based institutions including Avondale University, Alphacrucis University College, Christian Heritage College, Eastern College Australia, Excelsia College, Morling College, Sheridan Institute of Higher Education and Tabor College.
Other prominent guests attending the summit include Sheikh Shadi Alsuleiman, President of the Australian National Imams Council, Senator Sarah Henderson, the Shadow Minister for Education, and Ms Selina Kuruleca, the Secretary of Education for Fiji.
“We must not forget that faith-based higher education also plays a significant role in Australia and the wider region.” Continued Dr Roux.
“The close communities and purpose-infused curriculum benefits are clear with evidence showing faith-based higher education students are more likely to be first in family, put in more volunteer hours, and choose more service orientated careers.”
“Additionally, in the South Pacific region, one of the key obstacles to social and economic development has been a lack of adequate access to quality tertiary education.”
“With a 92% rate of Christian affiliation in the South Pacific, and 86% Muslim affiliation in Indonesia, there are important partnership opportunities that are being overlooked.”
The summit comes at a key time in government policy deliberations with the University Accord final report set to be completed before the end of the year, and the ALRC Religious Educational Institutions Inquiry set to report within the month on whether religious educational communities can continue to administer their mission-based institutions according to their religious ethos.
The Faith-based Higher Education Summit is being held in the Main Committee Room of Parliament House on Monday, October 30th between 9:00am and 4:00pm. A program can be found here, and Dr Roux can be available for interviews on the day upon request.
Nick Jensen - firstname.lastname@example.org - 0405163048