Professor Glyn Davis, Chair of Universities Australia and Vice-Chancellor, University of Melbourne, has announced that Universities Australia will develop a comprehensive statement for Australian higher education policy.

 

Delivering an address to the National Press Club, Professor Davis said the statement would involve three steps:

 

  • detailed national polling work on Australian attitudes to higher education has been commissioned;
  • From the middle of 2012 Universities Australia will run public meetings across the country to engage communities about their aspirations for higher education; and
  • Universities Australia will complete and publish a detailed policy position for release well before the 2013 federal election. This will be a comprehensive statement from the sector about what it seeks from the next government.

 

Community meetings on the role of higher education in Australia's future will be sponsored by four universities - ANU, Deakin, Curtin and Central Queensland.

 

Professor Davis outline a series of ‘tough questions’ that will be posed in the policy development process. These included:

 

  • How do we fund important disciplines that fail to attract students?
  • Do we really want to face the future with few skills in maths and science, with only a handful of citizens able to converse in the languages of our region?
  • How should policy respond where there are sharp shifts in market share, or even failure in some institutions?
  • Will universities be allowed to form alliances, to amalgamate with TAFEs and private providers?
  • How will public institutions respond rapidly when they are defined by state and territory legislation?
  • What should be the role of private providers, of TAFE? Will Australia end up replicating the school system, with governments funding both public and private institutions?
  • As international players arrive on our shores, do they too claim a share of taxpayer support?
  • What happens when the quality agency deems an institution no longer meets the definition of a university?
  • How can we achieve per student funding that enables us to deliver world class education? What should be the mix of contribution between government and students?
  • In a world of constrained resources, when nearly 80 per cent of grant applications cannot secure funding, how do we ensure research has the support it needs in every university?

The text of Professor Davis’s address is here.