Support for Job-ready Graduates package

Minister for Education Dan Tehan today thanked the witnesses who gave evidence to the Senate Committee on the Job-ready Graduates legislation.

“The Job-ready Graduates package will provide more university places for Australian students, make it cheaper to study in areas of expected job growth and provide more funding and support to regional students and universities,” Mr Tehan said.

“I would like to thank everyone who gave up their time to provide their analysis on the proposed legislation.”

Below are selected quotes from many of the committee’s witnesses:

Professor Rufus Black, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Tasmania said:

“… overall, this is a package which really supports regional and rural education and assists in creating a sustainable university, the sole higher education provider on this island.”

Professor Helen Bartlett, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of the Sunshine Coast said:

“This is probably the first time, in my experience, that there has been an attempt to address inequities that regional universities and regional students face.”

“In conclusion, we overall think that this package will benefit regional universities such as the University of the Sunshine Coast and we do endorse all those elements that I’ve alluded to.”

Professor Simon Maddocks, Vice-Chancellor and President, Charles Darwin University said:

“We believe that rejecting the bill outright is not a positive outcome for the sector or for our university. The value for us in the current package is that it puts a long-term floor under the Commonwealth’s support for universities, it provides inflation linked increases to the main Commonwealth grant and it provides extra university places to cover some but certainly not all of the growth in demand that we are seeing from across Australia. It reaches out to us as a regional university and it attempts to provide longstanding support for the badly neglected area of regional communities across the country. For these reasons, we see more positives than negatives in the legislation.”

“This legislation, combined with both CP indexation and the additional support for us as a regional university, delivers us close to five per cent year-of-year growth, which is certainly a lot better than what we’ve got at the moment.”

“In fact, our data shows at the moment that 60 per cent of our female students and just under 60 per cent of all our Indigenous students will in fact be studying disciplines that are cheaper or no more expensive under this bill. To support the amendment proposed to reallocate the important health science disciplines of psychology, social work and counselling, [inaudible] band 2, that 70 per cent of our female students and 67 per cent of our Indigenous students would be better off under this package …”

Ms Catriona Jackson, Chief Executive, Universities Australia said:

“… I think you’ve heard from a wide range of universities today that what we need is some sort of stability and funding and policy certainty. The passage of law would equate with that.”

Professor Deborah Terry AO, Chair, Universities Australia said:

“The universities sector welcomes the government’s focus on increasing participation in higher education through the provision of a significant increase in the number of university places in the coming years.”

Professor Paul Wellings, Vice-Chancellor, University of Wollongong said:

“… we’re broadly supportive of the framework that’s put in front of us here. That’s because it deals with a range of regional inequities, deals with some of the costing and pricing issues around teaching, gives us an idea of future demand patterns, puts a focus on employability and also deals with some of the industry linkage activities through the new industry linkage fund.”

“… we think that it’s in the best interests of students for this package to go forward.”

Professor Barney Glover, Vice-Chancellor and President, Western Sydney University said:

“We note the package contains measures that are critical to optimising vital socioeconomic contributions of Australia’s universities, including indexation; growth places; support for Indigenous, regional, rural and remote students; industry linkage funding and priority places.”

Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Newcastle said:

“We would like to see reform in the sector. It has been a while for this reform to come through.”

Ms Jenny Lambert, Director – Employment, Education and Training, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said:

“… We do know from the surveys of employers, and the types of jobs and forecasts that are around, where some of the skills are likely to be in greatest demand. So, yes, we do think it is the important time to start to restructure funding. We have been trying to do something about funding for a decade.”

Professor Grady Venville, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Australian National University said:

“We believe that it would enable more places for students to go to university, which is a good thing.”

Mr Tim Orton, Managing Director, Nous Group said:

“What we see as most significant is that it will lead to an increase in the number of student places, which we think will be critical in light of COVID, and it does that, as we understand, without additional demand on the taxpayer. It will provide additional support for regional students, and it will increase their flexibility for providers.”

Mr Luke Sheehy, Executive Director, Australian Technology Network of Universities said:

“This bill enshrines a range of measures – particularly, again, if they were put into legislation – that could, in the long term, give us more certainty and stability in the sector.”

Mr Troy Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia said:

“… where the bill does significantly affect the independent sector, it’s thought to deliver beneficial outcomes for students. These include the aforementioned student protection measures and reduction in the student loan tax. In that context, ITECA would not be uncomfortable if the bill was passed in its present form.”

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