The Government’s Higher Education Reforms must be matched with better information available to students about employment outcomes, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry told the Senate Education and Employment Committee today.
In her statement to the Committee’s inquiry into the Education Support Legislation Amendment (A More Sustainable, Responsive and Transparent Higher Education System) Bill 2017, Jenny Lambert, the Australian Chamber’s Director of Employment, Education and Training said:
“Higher education is important to business, both in producing graduates with the skills that industry needs, and also as a source of ideas and research that can create opportunities and provide solutions to our nation’s challenges.
“Our substantial condition of support for an uncapped demand-driven system is a better-informed market. It is critically important that students do not only receive guidance about courses and institutions, but also what their employment outcomes are likely to be.
“While 70 per cent of university graduates are in work four months after they graduate, this figure masks huge disparities between courses. Students should be able to compare between higher education offerings, and compare alternative routes such as vocational education and training (VET), where the employment outcomes sit above those of higher education.
“The reforms make great headway in sending a signal to universities to reach out to the industry more, improve employability skills and encourage work integrated learning. These are all very positive messages for the business community.”
Ms Lambert raised some concerns about the Bill, saying:
“Opening up of the sub-bachelor market but only to universities and not private colleges does not support choice for students, particularly given that private colleges dominate the upper rankings for student satisfaction. We urge the government, within a well-regulated environment, to support choice as soon as the fiscal conditions allow.”
Note to Editors
The Australian Chamber’s Nine Principles for Higher Education:
1. Sound policy requires a holistic approach to education
2. Higher education students need to be better informed
3. There should be equitable access, stronger pathways, and greater choice in higher education
4. Higher education should be industry-informed
5. Higher education funding and reform should be evidence-based
6. Higher education should be delivered through high-quality teaching and strong regulation
7. Higher education funding requires greater transparency
8. Student contributions to higher education should continue
9. Higher education funding should be fiscally responsible and outcomes-driven