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Media release: A Modern Australian University System in the 21st Century

March 9, 2023

The Group of Eight (Go8) has outlined a broad vision for the future of Australia’s higher education sector in the first of a series of discussion papers to be released during the University Accord process.

The Role of a Modern Australian University System in the 21st Century identifies opportunities and challenges for the Accord and explores the role of universities in the context of the economy and productivity under four headings: National Productivity – Innovation is key; Knowledge Creation and its Diffusion; Human Capital; and Critical Thinking and Intellectual Growth.

“With the Accord process well underway it is timely to step back and consider the role of a modern university system,” said Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson.

“This week the Go8 convened a series of deep dives to examine big picture reforms to ensure Australia’s university sector is fit for purpose into the future, noting the University Accord will set the sector up for the next 30 years.

“Our universities are key drivers of national prosperity, societal and environmental well-being and they ensure the strength of the vital global connections that establish Australia’s place in the world.

“National prosperity depends on achieving and maintaining productivity growth. Productivity growth is the driver of not only living standards, but it’s also the means to tackle broader challenges such as national security requirements, an aging population, climate policy. Achieving secure and well-paid employment also requires a productive, dynamic, and innovative economy. This is why what our universities deliver is critical.

“The first paper in the Go8 Accord series highlights a fundamental issue for our universities – the fact that many Australians do not understand the scale of research our universities carry out, in particular the Go8 universities who spend $7.7billion annually on research and undertake 70 percent of all Australia’s university based research.

“Australia should invest more in knowledge creation and innovation and human capital to lift the productivity growth rate that underpins prosperity. This is the only sustainable way for Australia to concurrently have profitable and innovative businesses, secure high-wage employment in dynamic and emerging sectors and occupations. It can be done. It simply needs resolve.”

The role of a modern Australian university system in the 21st century

Contact: Vicki Thomson, Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 438 047 155