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UOW responds to Australian Universities Accord Interim Report

UOW responds to Australian Universities Accord Interim Report

University applauds reports ambition, says Higher education funding should match OECD peers

The University of Wollongong (UOW) calls for higher education and research funding to match that of our OECD peers in its response to the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report. This could be achieved via a modest year-on-year increase, UOW argues.

In the University’s submission, prepared following broad consultation with staff, students and key stakeholders, Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Patricia M. Davidson welcomes the Report’s focus on reforming tertiary education to ensure Australia’s future productivity and resilience.

“We applaud the Accord Interim Report for tackling a wide range of critical issues including equity participation and access, research support and funding, and staff and student underpayment and wellbeing,” Professor Davidson said.

“These issues are symptoms of a system that is stressed and underfunded relative to our OECD peers and have driven the sector’s adaptation to these constraints, such as a reliance on international student fees, cross-subsidisation, lean and fragile operating models as well as increasing costs of regulation and business systems.

“However, the Report lacks a roadmap to achieving OECD parity in terms of the percentage of GDP allocated to higher education and research. A commitment to a modest year-on-year increase and a simpler, sustainable funding model would allow universities the opportunity to invest over a longer timeframe.”

Professor Davidson commended the Report’s focus on under-represented student groups and the ambitious 2035 target of parity representation in higher education across all equity groups, based on percentage share of the population.

“We fully believe in the transformative power of education and have always been passionate about fostering education for all, irrespective of one’s background or circumstances,” she said.

“It is essential, however, to recognise that support for equity students will incur additional costs and require additional direct support to students to ensure these laudable goals are achievable.”

UOW’s submission highlights that the Accord Interim Report doesn’t address the impact of climate change and argues the pivotal leadership role universities will play in dealing with this crisis should be central in the Panel’s final report.

UOW does not support the Report’s proposal for a levy on international student fee income.

“Such a levy could negatively impact students and Australia’s appeal as a higher education destination in a highly competitive global market,” Professor Davidson said.

UOW strongly supports the Panel’s recommendation for student-centred, needs-based funding and says a new funding model must aim to reduce student poverty.

Read UOW’s full response to the interim report here.