Over the five years to November 2015, the majority of Australia’s employment growth was in occupations that require post-school qualifications through either university or vocational education and training (VET).

This is no longer a trend – it is an established labour market reality.

Moving to universal participation in tertiary education is an acute challenge for Australia. However, it is a challenge Australia must understand, confront and meet.

Imbalance between higher education & VET

There are diverging trends in enrolment between the higher education and VET sectors. VET enrolments are declining relative to higher education enrolments for students.


A tertiary education financing authority

There is a strong case for an independent authority to govern the tertiary funding system. The new authority would oversee and administer funding for higher education policy objectives that are decided by the Commonwealth Government, and VET objectives that are agreed with states and territories. 

The new authority’s governance functions should relate to the whole tertiary sector, while specialist bodies administer sector-specific functions. The design should take into account what powers would be advisory or compulsory, and allocations between the authority, the department and state and central agencies.



Peter Noonan
Emeritus Professor of Tertiary Education Policy, Mitchell Institute