Australia’s collaborative approach to higher education attracts UK interest

Experts have highlighted the collaborative nature of Australia’s recent higher education reforms as a ‘great model’ for the UK to follow. During a webinar hosted by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), participants discussed how the Universities Accord report, accepted in Australia’s latest budget, demonstrates the benefits of government-university partnerships and ambitious targets for the sector. Professors from universities noted similarities between the UK and Australia, including economic challenges and a complex political environment for higher education.


The Universities Accord final report contains 47 recommendations aimed at transforming higher education. Libby Hackett, chief executive of the Sydney-based James Martin Institute for Public Policy and former chief executive of the UK’s University Alliance mission group, emphasised the unifying nature of the accord. “Right from the get-go, the government set this out as a collaborative model, as an engagement of partnership,” Hackett said. “It very much felt like a partnership and a collaborative approach with the sector leaning in.”

One of the targets of the accord is for 80% of working-age Australians to have tertiary qualifications by 2050. Hackett noted that this goal helped to address and move beyond the contentious discussions often associated with expanding higher education.

“What the accord did was to make it a shared responsibility of government and universities to aim towards these equity targets,” she explained. “This shared mission approach came together right from the start.”

Another key proposal for a tertiary education commission to provide oversight, coordination and expert advice to the sector was also highlighted as a significant step forward. Institutional leaders also underscored the importance of the accord’s framework in promoting wider access to higher education. “That the accord has provided a framework for a just way to embrace the massification of higher education is a really powerful framework for us to think about in the UK,” they remarked.

Despite challenges such as shifting priorities and changing leadership, institutional leaders pointed out that the collaborative nature of the Australian process serves as a strong example for the UK.

“The fact that we had a new government committed to taking a systematic review of the higher education system and doing it in a very partnership way was a pretty powerful change in both the tone and the way in which higher education policy was being developed,” they stated. “That’s one really important and positive message for UK higher education to think about.”

The webinar concluded with a consensus that the Australian model’s success lies in its inclusive, partnership-based approach, providing a strong framework for the UK to consider in its ongoing and future higher education reforms.

To stay updated on further industry insights and updates in Australia and other major study destinations, please visit our blog or contact our business development experts for more information. 

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