Feb 27, 2013: - The release of the university sector’s first ever comprehensive higher education policy agenda, A Smarter Australia, is a pivotal step in ensuring that the central role of universities in Australia’s future is recognised.
James Cook University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said she hoped all political parties as they go about developing their respective policy positions on higher education in the lead up to the election would take on board the Universities Australia policy statement.
Universities Australia, the peak body for Australia’s 39 universities, released A Smarter Australia in Canberra today.
“A Smarter Australia provides the road map for a smarter, stronger and more prosperous Australia by building on Australia’s comparative advantage in higher education,” Professor Harding said.
The policy statement, developed over the past 12 months, responds to four trends driving change in Australian higher education: the emergence of digital technologies; increasing globalisation and growing international competition in the Asian century; the need for economic and industrial renewal and diversification; and the need to arrest declining national productivity.
Over the past two decades, investment in higher education and research has not kept pace with the rest of the developed world.
“While there has been an increase in the level of investment made in recent years, this has not been sufficient to lift Australia from the bottom 20 per cent of OECD nations regarding the level of public investment made in universities.”
“As a nation we really need to do better if we are to realise the full potential of our higher education system in creating a prosperous future for Australia,” Professor Harding said.
A Smarter Australia calls for a partnership between the university sector and government to establish a practical and pragmatic policy framework around four key themes:
Increasing Australians’ university participation
Developing Australia’s globally engaged university sector
A powerful research and innovation system that drives economic and social progress
Increasing investment, improving efficiency and reducing red tape
Universities Australia will mount a public campaign to promote a better understanding of the role and contribution of universities to the economic and social wellbeing of all Australians.
“Our vision is for a smarter Australia – one that is prosperous, diverse and proud of its inventiveness. We believe that by following this agenda, we can make this vision a reality,” Professor Harding said.
JCU Media Jim O’Brien 0418 892449
Issued: February 27, 2013