Charles Sturt University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Goulter, today welcomed the release of the Report of the Bradley Review of the Australian Higher Education System. The Report follows the announcement last week that Charles Sturt University and Southern Cross University had been invited by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Julia Gillard, MP, to request funding for a feasibility study for their proposal to integrate with one other inter-state university.
“The Report will have far-reaching implications for the university sector in Australia and in particular for regional communities,” said Professor Goulter.
“We are extremely pleased that many of the recommendations reflect Charles Sturt University’s submission to the Review, and our joint proposal with Southern Cross University for the creation of a world-class national university based in regional Australia.”
Among other recommendations in the Report, the Review Panel calls on the Government to set new targets for participation by regional and remote students, and Indigenous students, in higher education.
“Charles Sturt University supports the recommendation to increase the number of Australians who hold a bachelor-level qualification to 40 per cent of the population and to raise the number of students from low socio-economic groups to 20 per cent of undergraduate enrolments,” Professor Goulter said. “Increasing participation is essential to future economic prosperity and social inclusion regionally and nationally.
“We also welcome the recommendation to increase public investment in teaching, including appropriate indexation of grants, support for covering the full cost of research and serious financial support for students in need.”
The Review Panel’s recommendation 17 strongly endorses Charles Sturt University and Southern Cross University’s proposal. The Report canvasses the establishment of ’... a national university, created through the merger of existing regional universities and, perhaps, consolidation of some regional campuses of metropolitan universities’.
The Review Panel stated that a new national university would have ‘internationally recognised expertise in delivery of education to regional areas and isolated communities ... and could be given a charter to address regional provision nationally’ and recommends that the Australian Government provides … appropriate funding for its establishment and operation’.
The Review Panel notes that in future, regional universities will require ’ ... a more flexible approach which allows existing providers to make use of a variety of teaching arrangements such as distance education, collaboration and sharing of infrastructure with local vocational education and training providers [and] video-conferencing ... ‘.
The Report findings follow comments by Deputy Prime Minister Gillard on ABC Riverina yesterday where she said, “It is an interesting proposal and we want to have a good look at it and that’s why the feasibility study is very important. But it seems to me the motivation for the proposal is to make education stronger across regional Australia and that’s a great thing”.
The Report also praised Charles Sturt University’s initiative in delivering expanded opportunity to smaller regional communities through the Western Riverina Higher Education Project, using it as a case study for innovation within the sector. The Panel recommended the abolition of regional loadings and the creation of a new $80 million fund from 2012 to develop innovative local solutions such as the one pioneered by Charles Sturt University.
“The challenge for the Government will be to adopt these recommendations and to ensure the resources are found to implement them in full,” Professor Goulter said.