What was the report about?
A recent report by KPMG, Reimagining tertiary education: From binary system to ecosystem, caused headlines following a bold proposal that the Federal Government should take over the tertiary education system. This would include removing the distinction between vocational and university courses and the introduction of state-operated TAFE colleges.
The main reason for the controversy stems from the fact that the report contends a return to the demand-driven system, one where tertiary places would be uncapped, which in essence, completely contradicts the recent changes made by the Coalition.
These included a two-year freeze for commonwealth grants and student loan restrictions, with KPMG deeming the current divide between courses offered by universities and vocational providers as “unstable and outmoded”.
Were there any recommendations from the report?
“We make 10 broad recommendations, to be implemented in stages, based on the premise that no one really knows what the future holds, and therefore the conditions must be created for institutional innovation, to maximise our prospects.” - Reimagining tertiary education: From binary system to ecosystem
- A national tertiary education and training system
- A tertiary education system with the Australian Qualifications framework
- A unified funding framework
- Greater funding transparency and accountability
- Independent tertiary education pricing authority
- A unified tertiary education loan scheme
- Regulatory arrangements
- Valuing teaching excellence
- Improving information on tertiary education outcomes
- Removing higher education provider categories
What has been the reaction?
Universities Australia, one of the peak industry bodies, was critical of the report, with chief executive Catriona Jackson believing KPMG wanted to go down “a radical, uncharted path” and leave “our universities limping behind our global economic competitors”.
In contrast, the Business Council of Australia approved of the proposal, specifically around the idea that “learners in the VET (vocational education and training) system shouldn’t be disadvantaged by a funding that doesn’t put them on equal footing with those in universities”.