Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management

For a Special Issue on

The future of Australian higher education and the Australian Universities Accord

Abstract deadline
15 June 2024

Manuscript deadline
30 September 2024

Cover image - Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management

Special Issue Editor(s)

Dr Peter Bentley, Innovative Research Universities, Australia
[email protected]

Dr Carroll Graham, Association for Tertiary Education Management
[email protected]

Professor Ian Li, Curtin University, Australia
[email protected]

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The future of Australian higher education and the Australian Universities Accord

This special issue of the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management seeks contributions that will inform the future of Australian higher education and the implementation of the Australian Universities Accord (the 'Accord').

In February 2024, the Australian Government released the Australian Universities Accord Final Report, a multi-decadal reform plan for Australia’s tertiary education sector. The Accord sets out a new vision for tertiary education primarily aimed at meeting future skills needs, achieving higher education equity and boosting research of national significance. It recommends ambitious targets for access and opportunity, a new needs-based student funding model, new governance arrangements and First Nations self-determination. Relationships between vocational and higher education, mobility, micro-credentials, and even the very definition of an Australian university are under scrutiny. Australia’s higher education system is potentially entering a new era where responsiveness through marketisation and competition is taking a back seat to government steering through strategic priorities.

The Accord is the first full-scale review since the 2008 Review of Australian Higher Education, led by the late Professor Denise Bradley AC (the Bradley Review). The Bradley Review set out reforms for strengthening minimum standards through a new tertiary regulator (TEQSA), while facilitating responsiveness from universities through competition and marketisation. 'Demand driven' funding for domestic students (operating from 2012 to 2017, and partially since) increased competition between universities for domestic students, while maintaining affordability with price controls. Research funding also became more competitive, with more public funding disbursed through excellence-based competitive grants and formulaic funding attached to industry income (or external engagement). International education remained heavily marketised with few limits on what could be charged or the number enrolled. International student fees rose from 10% of the sector’s operating revenue in 2000 to 27% shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019. But its growth has been uneven across the sector and proven unstable for universities and their staff.

The Accord proposes that universities will be guaranteed more funding and compete less. Universities will be held to account for public funding through ‘mission-based compacts’, which set hard caps on enrolments and funding. A new Solving Australia’s Challenges Fund will focus universities towards applying research findings to big national challenges set by government, business and industry. A possible Higher Education Future Fund will provide financial stability for infrastructure (funded primarily by a minority of universities with very large international student intakes). A new Australian Tertiary Education Commission is set to coordinate and provide ‘stewardship’, with guidance from government on skills and priorities.

With 47 recommendations across 400+ pages, the changes proposed by the Accord are not only large, but urgent: ‘significant change is needed – small reforms to programs and funding won’t be enough… our higher education system needs a fresh start’. Implementation will likely depend heavily on advice from a proposed Australian Tertiary Education Commission. The Accord lamented the 'relatively limited expertise regarding the higher education sector' and the difficulty of gaining advice from experts and stakeholders. This journal special issue is a call to the scholarly and practitioner community to share their knowledge on the topics and recommendations of the Accord to ensure that the urgent changes proposed by the Accord are well informed and enduring.

Call for submissions

We welcome full-length journal articles and shorter essays, particularly empirical analyses that could help provide direction for the Accord implementation stage. Submissions are expected to explicitly address questions or knowledge gaps identified in the Accord. International studies are also welcome, particularly comparative studies that draw upon the Australian system as a comparator. For example, intermediary agencies (or 'buffer bodies') between universities and government to inform stewardship (e.g. New Zealand and Ireland), or implementation of First Nations self-determination.

Papers could address (but are not limited to) the following topics and questions.

  • Governance and accountability
    • Intermediary agencies and 'buffer bodies' to inform stewardship.
    • Student place allocation and mission-based compacts as effective mechanisms for government steering.
    • Student safety, support and the roles of an Ombudsman.
  • VET and Higher Education
    • Pathways and institutions to support participation.
    • Mechanisms for closer integration into an aligned tertiary education system.
  • Equity targets and support
    • Appropriate measures for student equity and disadvantage, including for regional areas.
    • Possible consequences of setting targets for student equity.
  • Funding models
    • Determination of student contributions and fees, and loan repayment
    • Examples and possible consequences of a Higher Education Future Fund.
  • First Nations self-determination
  • Research engagement and impact
    • Effective use of national priorities to guide public research.
  • Quality international education
  • Academic and professional staffing
    • Models for de-casualisation and meeting university future workforce needs.
    • Academic workforce diversity and equity.
    • Professional staff contributions to the university mission(s).

 

Submission Instructions

Abstracts will be selected for development into an article. Abstracts can be up to 500 words, with papers expected to range up to 7,000 words (inclusive of references and tables but excluding appendices). Shorter essays of up to 2,000 words targeting specific elements of the Accord are also welcome and will be published as professional and specialist articles. Final acceptance of all manuscripts will be subject to peer review.

Please send your abstract as a PDF or Word document to [email protected] by 15 June 2024.

Include:

  • the name and institution of the corresponding author;
  • names and institutions of other authors;
  • email address for the corresponding author;
  • draft title for the article;
  • whether it will be a research article (up to 7,000 words) or professional article (up to 2,000 words); and
  • a draft abstract of up to 500 words.

Timeframe

  • Abstract submission* (up to 500 words): by 15 June 2024
  • Notification of acceptance: by 30 June 2024
  • Submission of full paper for review: by 30 September 2024
  • Submission of final papers: by 31 December 2024
  • Likely publication issue: February 2025

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