1: page 22
features of the nation’s higher education system are being fundamentally
reshaped and redefined by the Higher Education Support Bill. Such a radical
assault of the fundamentals of the system was not foreshadowed nor discussed
during the review process. The sector and the broader community do not support
discarding university autonomy and academic freedom.
bills will initiate a regime which will shift costs to students. It will stifle
student choice and impose a heavy burden on families. These bills will deepen
inequities in society, and undermine economic and social prosperity.
bill is so badly flawed, at both a philosophical and technical level that it
should not be given a second reading.
2: page 59
the committee does not believe these bills deserve a second reading, should the
Senate consent to give the bill a second reading, then substantial amendment
would be required to meet even the stated policy objectives of the Government.
The committee stage of the bill should be deferred until 2004, to allow
sufficient time for appropriate consideration of an extensively redrafted bill.
3: page 78
appropriations under the Higher Education Funding Act (HEFA) are sufficient to
allow for the full functioning of Australia’s universities in 2004. It is therefore recommended
that the Senate not be rushed into determining a position on these bills before
the end of 2003, as this would inhibit the full and detailed consideration that
4: page 78
committee recommends that the Government release the full and final set of
guidelines before the Senate debates the bills, given that incomplete draft
guidelines were provided on 3 November
2003, four days before the inquiry
5: page 32
is recommended that the Wage Cost Index (Education) be used in the formula to
index university grants in order to provide the funding required to maintain
and improve educational quality without increasing the fee burden on students
and their families. The Australian Greens and the Australian Democrats support
an increase in indexation, equivalent to that in public schools.
6: page 35
the Commonwealth Grants Scheme be rejected while universities, such as the
University of Western Sydney, the Victoria University of Technology and the
University of South Australia, receive less under it (excluding any potential
increases conditional on meeting unreasonable industrial relations and
governance provisions and any transitional funding) than under existing
7: page 42
the maximum HECS fee not be increased by 30 per cent and that ministerial
discretion to increase HECS fees be removed from clause 93-10.
committee notes that: the Democrats and Australian Greens support this
recommendation but have added an additional recommendation that HECS fees
should be abolished.
8: page 42
the HECS repayment income threshold be increased to $35,000 in 2004-05.
9: page 43
order to meet current levels of unmet demand for a university place from
qualified applicants, it is recommended that an additional 20,000 full and part
time commencing university places be created.
committee notes that: the Australian Greens call for 50,000 new places.
10: page 46
phase out of overenrolled places should not result in a reduced number of
places for Australians nationally or regionally.
11: page 50
full fee paying domestic undergraduate places be abolished and accordingly,
FEE-HELP loans be limited to postgraduate students.
12: page 51
the real rate of interest on FEE-HELP loans be abolished by removing the 3.5 per
cent interest rate in excess of CPI from clause 143-10.
13: page 68
committee recommends that Part 3-1 of the bill dealing with learning
entitlements be withdrawn on the grounds of hardship to students and its likely
adverse effects on completion rates.
14: page 78
30-25 Funding agreements
clause 30-25 be amended to remove ministerial discretion over the funding of
specific courses, in order to prevent intrusion into the autonomy of
15: page 93
the industrial relations conditions as contained in the draft guidelines issued
on 3 November be rejected because they would only serve to damage the quality
of the core teaching and research functions of universities, would undermine
staff conditions and unfairly target the valuable contribution of unions.
16: page 18
the Governance Protocols be rejected as a simplistic ‘one size fits all’
approach to the complex and differentiated task of governing diverse
universities serving different communities.
17: page 93
33-15 increases in assistance for higher education providers meeting certain
link in clause 33–15 requiring compliance with the centrally determined National
Governance Protocols and the Howard Government’s industrial relations policies
in order to gain funding, be rejected by the Senate because it is unfair,
unworkable, and unnecessary.
18: page 65
the regional loading be extended to include the University of Newcastle and
universities serving outer metropolitan regions such as the University of
Western Sydney and the Victoria University of Technology.
19: page 53
the anomaly whereby students under 25 are eligible for Rent Assistance while
those over 25 are ineligible be removed by extending Rent Assistance to AUSTUDY
20: page 58
the unreasonable burden on families of supporting children well into adulthood
be recognised and that the age of independence for students on Youth Allowance
be reduced to 23.
committee notes that: the Australian Greens and Democrats support the age of
independence being 18.
21: page 78
16-25 Approval by the Minister
clause 16-25 be amended to provide that where private entities seek
Commonwealth funding, that application is subject to an open process, conducted
by DEST, and that the process be subject to parliamentary approval, and in
accord with the National Protocols.
22: page 62
committee recommends the establishment of an Indigenous Higher Education
Advisory committee to develop a strategy for increasing indigenous
participation in higher education.
23: page 79
financial benchmarks of viability
clause 19–5 be amended to define the basic requirements of financial viability
and to set financial performance measures against which an institution has to
report, and to set benchmarks for acceptable performance.
24: page 79
information that must be provided
clause 19–10 be amended to reflect the consistency between Commonwealth and
state reporting requirements and the extent of Commonwealth recognition of
reporting requirements of states, or the CAC Act, and the timeframes within
which these annual financial statement must be provided.
25: page 79
criteria for assessment of quality
clause 19–15 be amended to define ‘an appropriate level of quality’, as
required by the act; and the authority or agency who will set the criteria
against which this is to be assessed.
26: page 79
to comply with national protocols
clause 19–20 (c) be amended to provide for universities to contest the veracity
of AUQA audits and provide appropriate review processes.
27: page 79
to challenge audit reports
clause 19–25 be amended to provide that a university may challenge the
reasonableness of the audit body’s proposals.
28: page 79
clauses 19-50 and 19-55 in relation to the appointment of review officers be
withdrawn on the grounds that they present a serious intrusion into university
autonomy, make universities liable to high compliance costs and duplicate a
number of existing review processes. Both clauses must be amended to include
the same standards of judicial review, as exist in the ESOS Act, namely a
warrant granted by a magistrate must be obtained before search and seize
missions can be launched on university premises.
29: page 80
of personal information
in order to protect students’ personal information sub-clause 19–60 (3) be
amended to specify the categories of information that universities may provide.
30: page 80
sub-clause 19–70 (1) be amended to restrict the level of information required,
because the provisions are too broad.
31: page 80
clause 19–75, requiring universities to notify the Minister in writing about
‘any event affecting the provider or a related body corporate of the provider’
that may affect the provider’s capacity to comply with the conditions of grant
or the quality and accountability requirements, be amended to define the
occasions where breaches have occurred, not when they may occur in the future.
32: page 80
a search warrant for DEST inspections
clause 19–80 relating to search powers be amended to provide for the
requirement of a search warrant issued by a magistrate in the event that
departmental officers need to open the books of a provider against the
33: page 72
all clauses in Division 22 of the bill be redrawn in recognition of the
operations of universities as public institutions.
34: page 80
for national allocation of places
30-10 to establish a transparent process for the allocation of places on a
35: page 80
over Funding Clusters
clause 30-15 giving the Minister direct power to fund or not to fund specific
curriculum areas in a particular institution be amended to require that the
Minister consult universities, and reach agreement with them on the number and
mix of government supported places, and make public the reasons for the
Recommendation 36: page 81
Exempting students from HECS
That clause 169-20 be re-written,
so that the Minister does not have discretion to exempt specific students from
making HECS or other loans contributions.
37: page 81
in order to recognise the status of universities, the phrase ‘higher education
providers’ be deleted and replaced with ‘universities’ or ‘universities and
other providers’ where necessary.
38: page 35
to ensure that the Victorian College of the Arts retains its current level of
funding, without the requirement that the University of Melbourne
cross-subsidise its operations, and while retaining its affiliation with the
University of Melbourne, consider transferring VCA funding to DCITA, in order
to recognise its parity in terms of quality of education and training with the
AFTRS and NIDA in NSW.
39: page 116
the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Up front Union
Fees) Bill be rejected
in its entirety.
40: page 89
the Higher Education Support (Transitional Provisions and Consequential
Amendments) Bill be amended to ensure that the ANU and AMC Acts do not
prevent Members of parliament taking a seat on their governing bodies.
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