New advisory council set to back higher education

A Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) Advisory Council is to be established in Australia, in an effort to improve and uphold the quality of the higher education sector.

Confirmation for the establishment of the advisory council was announced April 22 by Minister for Education, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP.

Part of the council's purpose will be to support higher education in Australia by reducing red tape whilst maintaining current standards and quality, and it will advise the TEQSA and Minister on all aspects relating.

"I look forward to working with the council to uphold standards and quality in higher education while also reducing the regulatory burden, including excessive reporting requirements, where possible," Mr Pyne stated in an April 22 press release.

The removal of unnecessary regulations should prove beneficial to those employed in the higher education sector, as well as those looking to enter it. According to TEQSA, which is the regulating body for both Australia's public and private tertiary institutions, more than 107,000 people are currently employed by this sector, and it is an integral part of educating future workers also.

"Easing the burden of unnecessary regulation while upholding quality is a practical expression of the government's respect for university autonomy and our support for the competition that drives the excellence, diversity and innovation that we need," Mr Pyne stated.

The chairman of the Advisory Council has been named as Professor Peter Shergold AC, who is also Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney and formerly the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. 

Mr Pyne expressed his satisfaction at the filling of the role, stating "I am very pleased to have someone of the calibre of Professor Shergold leading this Council. He will be supported by four Council members – all highly regarded figures in their fields," Mr Payne said.

The creation of the Advisory Council was influenced by the Review of Higher Education Regulation by Professor Kwong Lee Dow and Professor Valerie Braithwaite, who recommended a council for Australia's higher education sector.

Such focus on the improvement of higher education, particularly with removal of unnecessary red tape, is likely to allow further attention to be focused on streamlining functionality and effectiveness.

On top of this, focusing on the higher education sector will allow up-and-coming employees to be valuable future assets to Australia's workforce.