Featured News JCU welcomes Universities Accord final report

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Mon, 26 Feb 2024

JCU welcomes Universities Accord final report

exterior of the The Science Place, Bebegu Yumba campus, Townsville

James Cook University has warmly welcomed the Australian Universities Accord’s final report, particularly its recommendation for a needs-based funding model that would increase participation in post-school education in regional and remote areas.

JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Simon Biggs said the Accord’s final report is a comprehensive review of Australia’s university sector.

“I welcome the final report of the Accord panel. This has been 18 months of very hard work by the Panel and they make some very strong and high quality recommendations that, if enacted, will build a much stronger university sector.”

He said JCU strongly supports the Accord’s focus on increased participation for under-represented groups and improved support for students.

In its submission to the Accord, JCU highlighted that the current volume-based university funding system penalises regional universities who, by virtue of their location, simply cannot scale in size through domestic or international student numbers, creating disadvantage in the communities that regional universities serve.

The Accord’s final report recommends the introduction of a needs‑based funding model that acknowledges the cost of providing additional academic and other support, the locality of the institution they attend, and rewards student completions.

Prof. Biggs said the governance reforms would provide an important opportunity to rebalance arrangements for regional universities enabling place-based agreements between universities, Governments and communities which supports accountability for outcomes.

“The report’s strong focus on equity and the recommendations that regional universities need to be funded in a way that makes them sustainable is a very important outcome.

“This reform has the potential to deliver better outcomes and appropriate funding for regional universities including JCU. We welcome a reformed system that will be able to differentiate and not just treat all universities and all regions and communities as the same.”

Prof. Biggs said educational attainment rates in northern Queensland need to be raised, and the Accord report identifies ways government and universities can work towards that goal.

“Recommendations that see students paid when on placements will relieve some of the real financial barriers for our future nurses and teachers face, and the Report’s recognition that increasing medical places in regional universities is the key to graduating rural and remote doctors and delivering health equity to regional communities is significant”.

“We are also particularly pleased by a recommendation for uncapped medical places for First Nations’ students who meet the entry requirements for a medical degree.

“These recommendations are great news for regions such as ours and would deliver more opportunities for regional and remote students.

“We need to ensure equitable access to quality education for all regardless of background or location.

“There needs to be greater support for underrepresented students in regional areas including lower socioeconomic students. We want to increase participation and attainment rates in the north, as our communities deserve a more equitable approach,” Professor Biggs said.