Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Dawkins applauded the release today of the university sector's first comprehensive higher education policy agenda, A Smarter Australia: an agenda for Australian higher education.
Professor Dawkins said, "The release of this policy which all universities have come together to produce, is a pivotal step in ensuring that the central role of universities in Australia's future is recognised. A Smarter Australia provides the road map for a smarter, stronger and more prosperous Australia by building on Australia's comparative advantage in higher education."
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, this has not been sufficient to lift Australia from the bottom 20 per cent of OECD nations for the level of public investment made in universities. A Smarter Australia is a wake-up call.
It calls for a partnership between the university sector and government to establish a practical and pragmatic policy framework and a comprehensive funding structure. It is also important that the universities work closely with industries and communities in pursuing an exciting vision for the future of tertiary education.
Peter Dawkins said," I want to commend this visionary statement to all political parties as they develop their respective policy positions on higher education in the lead up to the coming federal election.
"A Smarter Australia has been formulated around four key themes – increasing Australians' university participation; developing Australia's globally engaged university sector; providing a powerful research and innovation system that drives economic and social progress; and increasing efficiency, investment, and regulation.
"This new policy direction compliments our vision for Victoria University for 2016, which is, a university that is excellent, engaged and accessible to a diverse range of students from all backgrounds, providing them with quality teaching and learning and offering them new opportunities to build successful careers. Our plan is to become a world class university, which is underpinned by globally recognised high quality research and innovation in areas such as health, active living, education and lifelong learning, and sustainable, liveable communities," he said.
"Located where we are, in Melbourne's west, nothing makes us prouder than watching the graduation of students who are the first in their family to go to university. For many of our students university is a pathway to a better life, including many mature age people who have been left structurally unemployed by technological change and global competition. Our university will be strongly positioned in the global economy and the new Asian century.
"Research on health and active living is an example of an area where universities like ours can improve people's lives, including Melbourne's west, which has one of the highest rates of diabetes in Australia.
"Universities have a role and contribution to make to the economic and social wellbeing of all Australians. There is no doubt about the critical role of university education for the future well being of Australia," Professor Dawkins said.
Public Affairs Unit, Victoria University,
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