Bill's Media Releases

THE FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Labor is committed to building a strong higher education system with equity, accessibility and quality at its core to drive innovation and productivity in the decades ahead.

 

We must equip young Australians with the skills and knowledge they need to drive the new economy.

 

The evidence is that two-thirds of all the new jobs created in Australia by 2020 will require a diploma qualification or higher.

 

Labor’s last wave of university reforms were based on the sound principles of access and equity. In 2009, we set two ambitious goals in relation to access and equity:

 

We are ahead of schedule to achieve 40 per cent of Australians under 35 holding a bachelor’s degree by 2025 – and we will certainly reach it within the decade.

 

For students from disadvantaged backgrounds, we are still hovering just under 17 per cent – so we have more work to do.

 

Labor wants to see more people becoming the first in their family to go to university, more students from disadvantaged families, more students who speak a language other than English at home going to university, and more mature-age students, upgrading their skills at university.

 

Because of Labor’s reforms, there are 190,000 more students at university today.  And we are committed to making sure that continues to grow.

 

But one of the greatest challenges for our higher education system is to ensure young Australians complete their degree.

 

We don’t want to see young Australians leave university with a student debt, but not a degree.

 

It’s not just about getting first-years signed up and in the door. It’s about making sure our students complete their degree.

 

What we now want to see is an improvement in completion rates.

 

Across the board, completion rates are falling.

 

A recent study found that of students with an ATAR of 59 or below, just over half had completed a degree almost 8 years later.

 

Nearly a quarter of students with ATARs below 50 don’t re-enrol for a second year.

 

This growing group of Australians who enrol in university and don’t graduate, pose a fundamental question for the future of higher education in Australia.

 

Governments and universities both need to evolve – we need to move our focus purely from enrolment to completion.

 

Universities need the resources to focus on quality teaching, as well as the individual attention that prevents students from slipping through the cracks.

 

The alternative, proposed by the Abbott Government, is a system where students are collected and their fees harvested.

 

We will continue to discuss the best way to provide universities with the support and security they need to produce the workforce of tomorrow.

 

Labor’s focus will be on the challenges of the future; ensuring equity, access and quality in our higher education system.

 

wednesday, 11 mARCH 2015

 

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053

THOMAS MOORHEAD - 0427 126 355