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A spirit of optimism has buoyed the sector in recent months. We anticipate a further boost to confidence with the Turnbull Government’s release of its Innovation and Science Agenda.

For this HIGHER ED.ITION, we’ve invited opinion pieces from some key figures across the sector. Stay tuned for others early next year.

In one of his first opeds in the portfolio, Education Minister Simon Birmingham lays out some key challenges: how to fund higher education sustainably, how to stimulate even more excellence and innovation, how to expand the impact of publicly-funded research, and how to reach a consensus on the higher education needs of students, industry and institutions.

In his contribution, Shadow Minister Kim Carr contrasts the Government’s and Opposition’s policies in higher education funding. He recaps Labor’s policy announcements of 2015. He also writes that universities play a crucial role in creating and sustaining the jobs of the future because they are at the core of the innovation system.

Australia’s indefatigable Chief Scientist Ian Chubb is ending his term with another burst of thoughtful contributions to policy making. Writing for HIGHER ED.ITION on the value of outstanding teaching, he reminds us that university education gives us something our curiosity alone cannot. However hard that is to define, he writes, ‘surely it has people and the way they influence us at its core’.

Finally, Ken Boal and Sharon Winocur from the Business/Higher Education Round Table (B/HERT) give us their take on the hot policy topic of recent months. The pair set out their ideas on how to drive stronger collaboration rates between industry and researchers in Australia. One key point they make is that we must change the outdated stereotype that universities are hard to access. As just one example, last week every university in Australia agreed to put their patents on a public website, SourceIP, which allows business to search for patents that could be used in their field – with easy-to-locate contact details for the patent-holders at each university.

Enjoy the read and our best wishes for a safe and happy festive season. See you again in 2016.

Barney Glover and Belinda Robinson

This Issue

UNI.FORUM

On 7 October, Universities Australia released its pre-election policy statement Keep it Clever at the National Press Club of Australia.

The statement calls for a ‘game-changing’ national investment strategy in wealth-generating research and innovation – arguing it is vital to the economic transformation that both sides of politics say Australia must make.

Keep it Clever notes the ambitious targets set by our competitors – including China (on a path to become the world’s greatest investor in research within the decade), South Korea (which plans to invest five per cent of GDP in R&D by 2020) and the UK (which is investing A$3 billion in industry-university collaboration).

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Treading Water is not an option

Minister for Education and Training Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham

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Australia has a high quality, world-class higher education system with universities consistently ranking in the top 100 institutions in the world.

Last week the OECD released its report, Education at a Glance, lauding Australia’s higher education system as performing ‘spectacularly well internationally’, in terms of participation and graduation rates as well as employment outcomes.

Today there are more than 170 higher education institutions and more than one million Australians studying for a higher education qualification.

This success has not come about by accident, but as a result of a continuous process of evolution, innovation and reform.

The message from this is that innovation and reform must be a constant pursuit if Australia is to maintain its reputation as a world leader in higher education.

Read the full article

The higher education debate is not over

Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Industry Senator the Hon Kim Carr

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When Mark Twain quipped that rumours of his death had been greatly exaggerated, he could have been describing the Liberal Government’s dilemma over its plan to deregulate higher education.

Eager journalists were quick to infer that Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s deferral of the intended starting date for deregulation to January 2017 meant that the plan would be scrapped.

But Senator Birmingham has the opposite. He has only delayed, not abandoned, the introduction of deregulated fees and a 20 per cent cut to the funding of undergraduate places.

The Government cannot simply dump deregulation, because it has already counted the 20 per cent cut as a Budget saving. So, as Senator Birmingham and Education Department officers acknowledged in a Senate estimates hearing last month, the 2014 Budget measures remain Government policy.

We must remind ourselves of the value of teachers

Chief Scientist of Australia Professor Ian Chubb AC

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A few weeks ago the UK Government released its long-awaited Green Paper on higher education. It is an interesting read, if only for the novel proposition it advances that teaching is an important function of the university.

The measures put forward have been described by Minister Jo Johnson as “a reshaping”, and by the sector as “the most disruptive changes to higher education for more than 20 years”. I leave it to others to decide on its merits.

What intrigues me is how little of the underpinning logic is truly new.

Master teachers, engaging content, eloquent delivery – these were the foundation of the great universities of medieval Europe. If we have neglected the importance of great teaching in more recent times, our students are certainly still seeking it, and they need it as much today as ever before.

Read the full article

To collaborate is to innovate

Mr Ken Boal (President) and Dr Sharon Winocur, Business/Higher Education Roundtable (B/HERT)

BHERTthumb.jpg B/HERT, in celebrating our 25th anniversary, continues to work across industry, higher education and government as we determine what needs to be done to help orchestrate better collaboration networks between universities and business. We therefore welcome the inclusion of collaboration as part of the government’s national conversation along with innovation and entrepreneurship. Today’s business environment demands innovation at a pace at least equal to the rate of your marketplace, ideally faster.

The old models of siloed/linear innovation no longer cut it; innovation has become a team sport. We are competing in a global environment that knows no boundaries, is in constant transformation and loaded with quality talent everywhere.

Read the full article

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Universities Australia has opened registrations for the 2016 Higher Education Conference, to be held from 9 to 11 March at the National Convention Centre, Canberra.

Developed by the sector, for the sector, Universities Australia’s annual flagship event attracts more than 800 delegates to debate, discuss and reflect on higher education policy as well as the economic, social and cultural contribution that universities make to the community.

Come and join university leaders, academics, policy makers, researchers, industry representatives and commentators to find out how universities are transforming Australia.

Register before 22 January 2016 to secure the early bird rate.

For more information about the conference program and registration details, visit the conference website.

 

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