UoN backs unified higher education vision

27 February 2013

The University of Newcastle said today's release of the university sector's first comprehensive higher education policy agenda was an important step in building Australia's future productivity and economic growth.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said A Smarter Australia provided a roadmap for the development of a smarter, stronger and more prosperous nation by building our competitive advantage in higher education.  

Developed over the past 12 months by peak body Universities Australia, the policy statement responds to four trends driving significant change in higher education:

  • the emergence of digital technologies* increasing globalisation and growing international competition in the Asian century * the need for economic and industrial renewal and diversification * the need to arrest declining national productivity.

Over the past two decades, investment in higher education and research has not kept pace with the rest of the developed world.

"While there has been an increase in the level of investment made in recent years, Australia remains in the bottom 20 per cent of OECD nations for the level of public investment made in universities," Professor McMillen said.

"As a nation we need to strengthen the focus to fully realise the potential of our higher education system in building Australia's future prosperity."

A Smarter Australia calls for a partnership between the university sector and government to establish a practical and pragmatic policy framework around four key themes:

  • increasing Australians' university participation* developing Australia's globally-engaged university sector  * establishing a powerful research and innovation system that drives economic and social progress   * increasing investment, improving efficiency and reducing red tape.

Professor McMillen noted that the priorities articulated in the University of Newcastle's NeW Directions Strategic Plan 2013 – 2015 released in December 2012 aligned closely to those articulated in the new sector policy statement.

"Through NeW Directions our aim is to harness our world-class performance and build our global reputation; to position the University to be able to maximise the opportunities presented by the Asian century; and, through the delivery of world-class innovation, to make a significant contribution to the economic and social prosperity of all of our regions."A Smarter Australia is available at www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au

Contact: Carmen Swadling | Media and Public Relations
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