January 29, 2024
2024-25 Pre-Budget Submission
The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) welcomes the opportunity to provide input for the 2024-25 Federal Budget. This year’s Budget provides a critical opportunity for government to respond to the final report of the Universities Accord panel and to begin a longer process of essential reforms that will set up Australia’s higher education and research systems for the decades ahead.
The IRU supports the case made by Universities Australia in its Pre-Budget submission for effective and sustainable government investment in the university system to boost productivity and inclusive economic growth. A strong and innovative university system is essential for Australians to have the skills to meet current workforce needs and also the new knowledge to create the jobs of the future.
The Universities Accord represents the most significant review of the Australian university system in 15 years and the need for significant reform is clear. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and major demographic, technological and geopolitical shifts, universities need a stable foundation of public policy and funding. Across the country at the start of 2024, universities face challenges with both domestic and international enrolments. There is not a moment to lose – funding reform should start in this year’s Budget.
In its submission to the Universities Accord process in April 2023, the IRU made 28 recommendations to achieve five key goals for Australia. Achieving these goals will ensure that our university system is future-ready and will maximise the ability of universities to deliver for the national interest and for communities right across the country:
- A more equitable higher education system, to improve social cohesion and provide opportunity for all.
- A more balanced research system, to deliver the sovereign capabilities that Australia will need for the future and to maximise the translation of knowledge for the public good.
- Indigenous self-determination, with higher education and research playing a central role in building community capacity and supporting the next generation of Indigenous leaders.
- A confident approach to engagement with the nations of the Indo-Pacific, strengthened through long-term education and research partnerships.
- A system that fosters innovation and diversity, with each university focusing on its distinct mission and community.
These goals are informed by the shared values and priorities of the IRU Strategy 2022-27, which focuses shared effort on continuing to expand access and participation in the higher education system, supporting innovative research that delivers impact for communities, and strengthening engagement with international partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
This submission focuses on specific measures that the Australian Government should include in the 2024-25 Budget to commence a process of policy and funding reform, and to make the most effective use of the significant investments already made by government in education and research. 2
We acknowledge the progress that has already been made – for example in the government’s response to the Universities Accord Interim Report in 2023 – to deliver on the goals set out above. The universities in the IRU are committed to working constructively with government towards the shared goal of a more equitable and innovative Australia. We appreciate the opportunity to provide further input on next steps and key priorities for the 2024-25 Budget.