View From the Back Row


"Notes from the Back Row" (link 0 below) is a report on the Senate committee hearings held in Sydney, July 17th - 18th concerning the competence of Australian Universities to do their job.

From March 22nd through August 13th there were 14 days of public hearings. Over 1200 pages of testimony were taken by the committee from witnesses selected on the basis of their written submissions and/or their presentations. TFW has gone through the testimony with the view of drawing together the evidence given throughout 5 months of the hearings concerning particular subjects.

The Terms of Reference are set out below - following  the list of topics.

The committee's report with its recommendations was to be forwarded by the Senate to the Government  who in turn is to act on it - nominally within three months though six months is more usual. It may be of consequence that the Government called a general election for November 10th.

A copy of the report is now available from the Senate Committee's Report Web page.

The list of topics below will be added to from time to time

To voice your views where it may matter click Contacts


Notes from the Back Row
University Morale
Backing Australia's Ability
Universities in Crisis
University Basic Research

Dr. Kemp's Nostrums - That Leaked Cabinet Submission

6. Universities and Engineering 25/10/01

The Senate Committee for Employment, Workplace Relations, Small Business and Education References

Was charged on October 12, 2000 to report to the Senate by the first sitting day in August 2001 on -

The Capacity of Public Universities to Meet Australia’s Higher Education Needs

   Number of written submissions presented: 362

    Number of Days of Public Hearings: 14

    Number of Pages of Testimony: >1,200

                        Terms of Reference:

On 12 October 2000 the Senate referred to the Employment, Workplace Relations, Small Business and Education References Committee the inquiry into the capacity of public universities to meet Australia’s higher education needs, with particular reference to:

(a) the adequacy of current funding arrangements with respect to:

i. the capacity of universities to manage and serve increasing demand,
ii. institutional autonomy and flexibility, and
iii. the quality and diversity of teaching and research;

(b) the effect of increasing reliance on private funding and market behaviour on the sector's ability to meet Australia's education, training and research needs, including its effect on:

i. the quality and diversity of education,
ii. the production of sufficient numbers of appropriately-qualified graduates to meet industry demand,
iii. the adequacy of campus infrastructure and resources,
iv. the maintenance and extension of Australia’s long-term capacity in both basic and applied research across the diversity of fields of knowledge, and
v. the operations and effect of universities' commercialised research and development structures;

(c) public liability consequences of private, commercial activities of universities;

(d) the equality of opportunity to participate in higher education, including:

i. the levels of access among social groups under-represented in higher education,
ii. the effects of the introduction of differential Higher Education Contribution Schemes and other fees and charges and changes in funding provision on the affordability and accessibility of higher education,
iii. the adequacy of current student income support measures, and
iv. the growth rates in participation by level of course and field of study relative to comparable nations;

(e) the factors affecting the ability of Australian public universities to attract and retain staff in the context of competitive local and global markets and the intellectual culture of universities;

(f) the capacity of public universities to contribute to economic growth:

i. in communities and regions,
ii. as an export industry, and
iii. through research and development, both via the immediate economic contribution of universities and through sustaining national research capacity in the longer term;

(g) the regulation of the higher education sector in the global environment, including:

i. accreditation regimes and quality assurance,
ii. external mechanisms to undertake ongoing review of the capacity of the sector to meet Australia’s education, training, research, social and economic needs, and
iii. university governance reporting requirements, structures and practices; and

(h) the nature and sufficiency of independent advice to government on higher education matters, particularly having regard to the abolition of the National Board of Employment, Education and Training.