The Federal Government’s investment in tertiary education provides major benefits to Australian businesses. Postgraduate students, engaging in research, coursework, or a combination of both, sit at the forefront of Australia’s innovation economy. Postgraduate degrees, in particular, teach students critical thinking, analysis, communication, and problem solving. It is widely acknowledged that such skills, and the graduates who possess them, will not only be highly desired but necessary at all levels of Australia’s future workforce. It is therefore crucial that such degrees be properly funded and accessible to all.
In our response, we identify some points of agreement with the BCA. However, we find that their proposed model requires further consideration and reworking in three key areas. Failure to reconsider these flaws, and the assumptions underpinning them, will negatively impact Australia’s universities, their current and prospective postgraduates, and, ultimately, the businesses represented by the BCA. We put forward the following three recommendations:
Recommendation 1: Reduce the proposed emphasis on differential funding according to public and private ‘benefit’, and consider the unanticipated effects of such a model.
Recommendation 2: Exclude private providers from eligibility to receive the proposed government subsidies.
Recommendation 3: Scrap the proposed ‘Lifelong Skills Account’ in favour of a model oriented toward improving public VET funding and accessibility, and maintaining public university funding.