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Media release: The cost of compliance – $500 million diverted from building our national prosperity.

May 2, 2022

The Group of Eight (Go8) has called on an incoming Government to move quickly to reduce unnecessary red tape and regulation or suffer the consequences of Australia’s leading universities being unable to direct resources where they so desperately need to go – to delivering core national priorities.

Essential Decisions for National Success: Reducing the regulatory overload on our universities, is one of a series of policy papers from the Go8 in the lead up to the Federal election. The papers aim to assist in developing essential Government policy changes.

With such changes, the Go8 – ranked as world leading research-intensive universities – is in a strong position to deliver what Australia must have if it is to meet the ever-increasing number of challenges ahead.

Universities have faced an onslaught of new red-tape and regulation. The cost of compliance-based reporting by Australia’s universities is estimated to be in excess of $500 million per annum – a staggering impost that diverts resources from where they are needed in teaching and world-leading research.

Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson says the opportunity cost is enormous. “If the Government were to commit an additional $500 million dollars a year to targeted skills needs, the Go8 has identified that this would fund an estimated additional 1,000 graduating doctors a year and increase the production of domestic engineering bachelor graduates by two-thirds – both priorities identified by the Go8,” she said.

“Excessive and unwarranted red tape stymies productivity – which is at the heart of economic success – and limits our nation’s prosperity. There have been numerous reviews and Parliamentary Inquiries over the past decade which have recommended regulatory and reporting reforms as well as the streamlining of research funding arrangements, however momentum was short lived.  Instead, the regulatory burden on our universities has and continues to increase significantly.

“Our universities should not be so comprehensively tied up in red-tape and countless data and information exercises.  We must instead be focused on producing the quality graduates who will deliver major infrastructure projects; boosting cyber resilience and supporting our sovereign defence industry – including AUKUS; providing real time solutions and products through R&D, delivering life-saving medical research and advances in the agricultural sciences.

The Go8 recommends an incoming government:

  1. ensures that all new legislation impacting the higher education sector be subject to a full legislative and regulatory scan by the sponsoring Minister’s agency to identify areas of overlap, duplication, redundancy.
  2. ensures that there is cross-portfolio collaboration between departments when designing regulation – with the purpose of eliminating duplication, overlap and redundancy.
  3. introduces a requirement that, to ensure effective and efficient regulation, new legislation brought forward must demonstrate to the Parliament that it has been developed through consultative, robustly developed and evidence-based policy.

“The implementation of these recommendations is essential. We want to be able to focus on our core role – educating our future leaders and innovators and producing world-class research in areas that are now critical to shape our nation’s future,” said Ms Thomson.

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