The new Federal Government has an opportunity to establish a fresh approach to higher education in Australia by fostering a new era of innovation and dynamism, according to Professor Alan Robson, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Western Australia.
"The Government has a rare chance to move away from what has generally been acknowledged as a decade of neglect of higher education and establish a sector which truly reflects the aspirations of our nation," Professor Robson said.
His comments followed the announcement today of a major review of higher education by the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Julia Gillard.
"If we are to encourage a higher education system which provides positive outcomes for the benefit of all Australians, we must move away from the policy of micro-management which has been symptomatic of the past.
"Such a system would entrust Australia's universities to conduct their operations against agreed outcomes rather than strict process, procedure and regulation."
Speaking at a national higher education conference in Sydney, Professor Robson - who is also Chair of the Australian Group of Eight research universities - said such an approach should include policy settings which sustain a balanced, responsible and appropriate approach in meeting society's different needs without stifling innovation and dynamism.
"The Government has a chance to develop a framework which breaks the constraints of the past while still ensuring proper accountability and appropriate recognition of the public interest.
"There is no question that our universities have to have a diversity of mission. Such diversity reflects diversity in our community and most importantly, allows the sector to be fully responsive to the expectations and demands of the communities we serve (including the short-term needs of the economy, students and government)," Professor Robson said.
He urged university leaders to work with the Federal Government to carve out a new and more dynamic policy framework for the benefit of all Australians.
Professor Alan Robson 61 8 6488 2809
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) 61 8 6488 5563 / 0432 637 716