IHEA Submission on Australian Universities Accord Panel Discussion Paper Consultation

Independent Higher Education Australia (IHEA) provided a submission in response to the Australian Universities Accord Panel Discussion Paper to help inform the Panel’s final report to the Minister for Education.

The Australian Universities Accord Panel Discussion Paper outlines the challenges and opportunities facing the Australian higher education sector, structured around a series of prompt questions intended to stimulate discussion about how Government, the sector and other relevant stakeholders can work together to deliver a higher education system that meets the current and future needs of the nation.

IHEA's submission should be read in conjunction with our previous submission entitled IHEA Australian
Universities Accord – Terms of Reference Priorities Consultation
dated 14 December 2022, where we outlined in
detail many of our key priorities.

Summary of IHEA recommendations:

  1. IHEA recommends a National Tertiary Sector Reform Strategy, which results in a streamlined national
    tertiary system. While sector, industry, and community consultation will be essential to implementation,
    IHEA proposes that structural reform principles be agreed across jurisdictions and portfolios through
    National Cabinet and Ministerial Committees.
  2. Introduce a student centred funding model to heighten equity outcomes. Amend the Higher Education
    Support Act (HESA) and supporting legislation to extend CSPs eligibility to all registered HE providers
    delivering in all relevant courses in national priority fields.
  3. Stop FEE-HELP loan inequity and develop a universal, income contingent loan scheme with equitable
    settings for all tertiary students. Alternatively, abolish the FEE-HELP loan administration payment paid by
    independent sector students.
  4. Introduce Teaching Excellence Frameworks, with corresponding funding grants, for all registered HE
    providers that meet determined quality criteria.
  5. Extend National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund (NPILF) to all registered providers delivering in
    national priority areas, starting with providers who were approved for Commonwealth Supported
    Places (CSPs) under the undergraduate course program. Alternatively, the Government could provide
    incentives for Work Integrated Learning (WIL) placement. For instance, an incremental payments
    system for Independent HE providers, relating to the proportion of students successfully completing a
    WIL placement.
  6. Encourage regulatory settings that appropriately support the many ways in which WIL is designed and
    integrated into HE courses across the HE sector guided by the development of a national WIL
  7. Encourage State and Federal governments to develop and maintain work programs that can support
    student skills enhancement within Industry contexts. JobConnect for international students in New
    South Wales is an example of such a successful program model.
  8. Introduce a new AQF level for secondary school (year 12 completion) to strengthen links between
    Secondary Education and the HE and broader tertiary sector - to be determined by the AQF authority.
  9. Make further clarifications to Australian Qualification Framework policies to ensure consistent application
    of advanced standing between VET and HE courses to ensure seamless student mobility and promote a
    dynamic Australian tertiary system.
  10. Extend, targeted research grants under the Australian Research Council (ARC) to all registered providers,
    with eligibility criteria for funding based on quality and capability rather than provider type.
  11. Extend HDR student stipends to the Independent HE sector so eligible students can gain Government
    funded support.
  12. Extend access to Government funding blocks under HESA, including equity funding to be extended to all
    registered providers and eligibility for funding based on quality and capability criteria.
  13. Increase the pool of research funding available for allocation to eligible institutions.
  14. Urgent review of TEQSA Cost Recovery model to develop a fairer model.
  15. Introduce a single tertiary system and regulator for the HE and VET sectors that aligns processes where
    possible and maintains TEQSA's case management approach.
  16. TEQSA and ASQA to develop a Service Obligation Charters that set out service standards, including time
    commitments for each regulator’s responsiveness in relation to service to which cost recovery fees are
    monitored and that these be routinely reported to ensure appropriate accountability.
  17. Commonwealth Ombudsman to Consider Domestic Student Disputes
  18. Reform Copyright Legislation to Reduce Levies on Education.
  19. Establish a National Ministerial Council for International Education comprising relevant Ministers across
    jurisdictions and portfolios to drive a cohesive and effective international education industry strategy.
  20. International agent registration.
  21. Abolition of fees for student visas.
  22. Greater pathways to permanent residency for graduates in priority disciplines.

Thank you to IHEA members who provided feedback on this submission.

This was submitted on 11 April 2023.

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