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Equity, Innovation and the Universities Accord

08 May, 2024

With the release of the Universities Accord report and the Federal Government’s latest proposed reform announcements, higher education is firmly on the domestic agenda. As a leading partner to the sector, OES proactively seeks opportunities to contribute insights and expertise to the national dialogue.

OES’s submission to the Universities Accord interim report consultation phase leveraged our unique perspective, gained across more than a decade supporting students from all backgrounds to realise their higher education goals. We were delighted to see many of our recommendations reflected in the final report.

The Accord sets the tone for important and timely reform, particularly relating to equity, participation, skills attainment and the qualifications mix.

Pleasingly, the Accord commits to addressing barriers to higher education access and completion. These barriers are especially faced by non-traditional student cohorts – students for whom OES has successfully designed and delivered online, hybrid and face-to-face programs across our 12-year history. Non-traditional students are more likely to be mature age, studying part-time and living outside a major capital city.

OES supports the Accord’s focus on uplifting the quality of teaching and learning and improving the higher education student experience. Our record of highly rated online and hybrid program delivery in partnership with leading institutions around the world points to our pedigree in this area.

We welcome the establishment of a new Australian tertiary education commission and look forward to providing insight and guidance on how to ensure future policy can be shaped to best support non-traditional students. We also share the Accord’s commitment to putting students at the centre of decision making, and its vision for a higher education system with the scale and flexibility to respond to Australia’s future employment needs.

More broadly, it was encouraging to see the report’s focus on policies relating to HELP funding and unpaid placements. Recent announcements that the Government is introducing a payment for some university placements and reforming the way HECS/HELP indexation is calculated are early evidence of the significant role higher education may play ahead of a federal election next year.

OES looks forward to working cooperatively with university clients, all levels of government and the sector as a whole to advance the Accord’s vision. We believe in the power of collaboration to achieve an expanded, diverse and flourishing Australian higher education sector to uplift equity, innovation, research and, ultimately, national prosperity.