Skip to content

Where is Labor’s plan for Australian universities?

On behalf of the Coalition, I acknowledge the hard work and commitment of the Australian Universities Accord panel, led by Professor Mary O’Kane, and the many stakeholders who contributed to this review of the higher education sector.

While the Accord’s final report released today encompasses a large body of work and 47 recommendations, the Albanese government’s response is disappointing and raises many more questions than answers.

Education Minister Jason Clare has been sitting on the report for two months, but has delivered no plan or priorities for Australian universities.

While the report proposes a long-term blueprint for reform, the Albanese government must provide the higher education sector with the certainty it deserves not a pipedream of promises.

The report’s recommendations would cost many billions of dollars to implement.

The only major announcement is Labor’s endorsement of the Coalition’s campaign for an independent National Student Ombudsman to put students first. Whether it be student safety or refunds for deficient courses, an ombudsman must have the powers to throw the book at universities when required.

There is nothing more important than supporting young Australians to achieve their best potential.

While the report recommends changes to the Higher Education Loan Program, there is no excuse for Labor’s failure to act on escalating student debt driven by Labor’s high inflation.

Some 3 million Australians with a HECS loan, which increased on average by $1700 this year, deserve better. This is made worse by the unfair ATO HECS payment system.

Lifting tertiary education attainment rates is vitally important, particularly for disadvantaged students and those from regional, rural and remote areas.

But where is Labor’s plan to support students who cannot afford to move to a large city to study or even find a place to live, made worse by Labor’s immigration mess?

With one in three school students failing NAPLAN, the government must urgently drive the reforms needed to raise school standards. Poor school outcomes remain the biggest barrier to a university education, and on that score there is much hard work ahead.

Share this