La Trobe welcomes Australian Universities Accord

La Trobe University welcomes the release of the final report of the Australian Universities Accord.

La Trobe University welcomes the release of the Australian Universities Accord report today by Minister for Education, Jason Clare. The University is pleased to see the majority of our own recommendations reflected and endorsed in the report.

The Accord’s recommendations are bold and ambitious and, if adopted, could positively shift the dial for higher education in Australia. As the report itself states, these reforms will require a large investment from the Australian Government.

With equity at the core of La Trobe’s mission, and as a university with a strong regional footprint, we welcome the report’s acknowledgment of the higher cost of educating equity groups and providing regional education. We support the proposed needs and location-based funding model for equity students, fee-free enabling and preparatory courses, improved student income support and financial support for compulsory placements in critical areas of nursing and teaching.

We strongly welcome the report’s ambitious targets to significantly grow participation of undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds by 2035, including linking the new attainment targets with Closing the Gap targets for First Nations students.

Established five years ago, La Trobe’s end-to-end rural medical program in partnership with the University of Melbourne is designed to help solve Australia’s rural doctor shortage; however, currently places are limited and over-subscribed. We therefore also welcome the report’s recommendation to significantly increase the number of Commonwealth supported medical places allocated to regionally based end-to-end medical schools.

With La Trobe’s commitment to addressing skills shortages and to life-long learning, we applaud the report’s recommendations around accelerating skills growth, noting the report's reference to La Trobe’s micro credentials program, which is successfully providing upskilling in areas of serious workforce shortage such as health and education.

As proposed in our own Accord submission, we welcome the report’s recommendation to establish an Australian Tertiary Education Commission to ensure system coordination, quality and student choice while at the same time ensuring universities retain freedom to make choices about their enrolments and finances, within a framework established by the Commission.

With student safety and experience at the top of La Trobe’s agenda, as reflected in our Sexual Harm Prevention and Response Action Plan, we support the proposed establishment of a National Student Ombudsman and the development of a national student charter around a shared national commitment to student safety and wellbeing.

We welcome the report’s recommendation of a significant increase in overall national spending on Research and Development as a percentage of GDP and look forward to seeing what strategies the Government may implement to ensure Australia can compete more effectively on the world stage.

We look forward to the Government’s actions in response to the Accord and to working in partnership as the recommendations are implemented and its aspirations realised.

Professor Theo Farrell, Vice-Chancellor, La Trobe University