Sweeping higher education reforms move a step closer

Sweeping higher education reforms move a step closer

The Federal Government has introduced legislation to implement the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report, which was announced by Minister Jason Clare in July.

The Report, which has been welcomed by Australia’s universities, proposes “bold, long-term changes” to ensure better opportunities and outcomes for graduates – especially those from marginalised groups.

In a statement today, Minister Clare said two of the report’s priority actions require legislative change, prompting the government to introduce the Education Support Amendment (Response to the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report) Bill 2023.

The Bill abolishes the 50% pass rule, introduced as part of the Job-ready Graduates Scheme, which has had “a disproportionately negative impact” on students from poor backgrounds and from the regions.

“The Australian Universities Accord Interim Report makes it clear that more and more jobs will require a university qualification in the future,” Federal Education Minister James Clare said today.

“Almost one in two Australians in their thirties have a university degree today. But not everywhere. Not where I grew up. Not in the outer suburbs of our big cities. Not in the regions. Not in poor families.”

Minister Clare said just 15% of people from poor families have a university degree today and that this number is even lower for Indigenous people.

“This will help to change that, opening the door of opportunity wider for more Australians. The changes in this Bill will do that,” he said.

“As well as abolishing the 50 per cent pass rule, the Bill strengthens accountability and reporting requirements for higher education providers to ensure students are properly supported to study.”

Higher education providers that fail to meet the new requirements will face compliance action, including possible financial penalties.

The Bill also delivers demand-driven funding for all Indigenous students to attend university if they are qualified for admission to the course.

Minister Clare said at the moment this only applies to Indigenous students who live in regional Australia, but it will soon apply to all, potentially doubling the number of Indigenous students at university in a decade.

To provide a submission on the further policy ideas outlined in the report visit the Department of Education’s Consultation on the Accord Interim Report page.