The Australian | 10 October 2012
Higher education needs “a back-to-the future” evolution, according to Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven, who says a universities commission* could redress problems in universities’ “mega-governance”. Craven says the overarching governance of the sector has evolved in a largely random way, with “natural regulation creep” as universities increased their reliance on Commonwealth federal funding.
We’ve got to the point where it’s not set towards diversity or innovation, it’s set towards compliance and uniformity. But the creation of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), which is a much more coherent, reasoned approach to governance, [allows us] to think about mega-governance in a more nuanced way. It’s the first time we’ve got something up there that is the can on top of the hill.
Craven says TEQSA was a “natural and beneficial evolution” that hadn’t reached its logical conclusion.
A universities commission-style body could encourage heterogeneity and also bring disparate areas such as TEQSA, the Australian Qualifications Framework, Australian Research Council and parts of the Tertiary Education Department into “the dreaded one-stop shop”, so that “instead of people semaphoring each other from different hills in Canberra they’re actually working together”.
* A universities commission was first established in 1942. The Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission, created by the Whitalm Government in 1974, was abolished in 1988.