The Australian government has recently published the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report. The government has published the report as part of a 12-month review of the higher education system in Australia, which aims to improve its quality, accessibility, affordability and sustainability. It also outlines a vision for the future of higher education, with a focus on First Nations, student success, equity and governance and will play a key role in any new legislation on Higher Education policy.
The report proposes five priority actions to be implemented immediately. These are:
Create further Regional University Centres (re-named Regional University Study Hubs) and establish a similar concept for suburban/metropolitan locations.
Abolish the 50% rule, which removes support for students who don’t meet a minimum pass threshold.
Ensure that all First Nations students are eligible for a funded place at university.
Ensure funding certainty for Higher Education providers.
Improve university governance systems.
In addition to the priority actions, the report highlights the importance of student success and equity in higher education. It also acknowledges that universities have a duty to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students, especially those from First Nations or other equity groups. Further declines in the Student Progression Rate this year have already indicated that more needs to be done to support students throughout their education journey.
There are a number of strategies that universities can implement to comply with the actions set out in the report, and to enhance student success and equality. Additionally, education technology and student success software can support these efforts and help universities deliver a high-quality and personalised learning experience for every student.
The Interim report suggests that universities need to adopt new strategies that:
- Promote student success among equity groups by providing tailored academic and personal support, mentoring, scholarships and career guidance.
- Encourage enrolment of students from equity groups by raising awareness, aspiration and attainment, and offering flexible entry pathways and recognition of prior learning.
- Enhance support services for students from equity groups by improving access to financial assistance, accommodation, health and wellbeing, cultural and social activities, and student representation.
- Improve participation and completion rates of students from equity groups by monitoring progress, identifying barriers and challenges, and implementing interventions and adjustments.
- Meet specific targets for student success and equity by setting goals, collecting data, evaluating impact and reporting outcomes.
Embedding Student Success and Equality in Culture and Governance
To achieve the goals of the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report, universities should make student success and equity part of their culture and governance. This means taking a holistic and student-centred approach to planning, decision-making and resource allocation, with a clear focus on improving student outcomes and reducing achievement gaps. It also means fostering a culture of collaboration, innovation and continuous improvement, where staff and students are engaged, empowered and supported to achieve their potential.
Education technology and student success software can help universities make student success and equity part of their culture and governance by providing data-driven insights, feedback and recommendations that inform strategic planning, policy development and quality assurance.
For example, universities can use learning analytics tools to monitor student progress, identify at-risk students, evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and initiatives, and benchmark their performance against national and international standards. They can also improve communication, consultation and co-creation between staff by removing data silos, and promoting transparency and accountability.
About the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report
The Australian Universities Accord Interim Report is a significant step towards achieving a more equitable and inclusive higher education system in Australia. The final report of the Australian Universities Accord is expected to be released in December 2023 and it will provide more detailed recommendations and performance targets for the higher education system.
The Australian Universities Accord Interim Report can be accessed here.