The National Union of Students Australia broadly supports the creation of the Universities Accord to design and champion reform and change in the tertiary education sector. The NUS has been a strong champion of reform for many years and is excited by the prospect of working alongside the Minister and an expert panel to inform the changes we need to see to the sector to make it truly work for students.
However, for the Accord to genuinely change how tertiary education is run in Australia, they need to embed the voice of students in all the decisions they make. Students are the primary stakeholders in education and students are the experts at being students. There is significant distrust from students towards universities and a real power imbalance exists between our two groups. The Universities Accord must take this into account for it to be successful.
Meeting Australia’s knowledge and skills needs, now and in the future– Reverse the Job Ready Graduates package
Access and Opportunity– Lower the age of independence from 22 to 18 – Lift social security payments to above the poverty line (at least $88 per day)– Adjust youth allowance (and other social security payments) with the cost of living – Update rent assistance to reflect and grow in line with market rents. – Ensure there is welfare support for students completing placements
Investment and affordability– The government should commit to increasing university funding to 1% of GDP– Implement free undergraduate education
Governance, Accountability, and Community– To Legislate a National Duty of Care with student voice at the centre. – To create a National Dispute Resolution Scheme to fill the gap for student grievances and complaints. – A minimum of 3 elected student representatives on a University Council (Board or Senate) be enshrined in the governing Act of each institution.– All universities should have a minimum number of elected student representatives on their principal decision-making body. – Student representation or participation in decision-making bodies that affect students as the rule rather than the exception. If students are affected by the decisions made by that body they should always be included in these decisions.
Quality and Sustainability– To change SSAF legislation so that SSAF goes to democratically elected independent student bodies instead of to higher education institutions
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