University submissions 2013

Commonwealth - Demand Driven Funding Review - December 2013

On November 12 Minister Pyne announced a review of the Demand Driven Funding System. Information about the Review can be found on the Department of Education's webpage.

The University's submission to this Review can be found here.

National Commission of Audit - November 2013

On 22 October 2013 the Treasurer and Minister for Finance released the Terms of Reference for a broad-ranging National Commission of Audit to be chaired by Mr Tony Shepherd AO. The full terms of reference for the review are available here. In summary, the aim of the Commission of Audit is to determine the scope for efficiency and productivity improvements across all areas of Commonwealth expenditure, and to make recommendations to achieve savings sufficient to deliver a surplus of 1 percent of GDP prior to 2023-24.

The Commission will conduct its work in two phases, and is required to report on outcomes of Phase 1 by 31 January 2014, and on the outcomes of Phase 2 by 31 March 2014 – so that both reports can be considered in the context of the preparation of the 2014-15 Commonwealth budget. Under Phase 1 the Commission will examine the scope of government, the efficiency and effectiveness of government expenditure, the state of the Commonwealth’s finances and medium-term risks to the integrity of the budget position. Under Phase 2, the Commission will report on the extent, condition and adequacy of Commonwealth infrastructure, and public sector performance and accountability.

The Commission called for submissions relevant to its Terms of Reference on 7 November. The University provided a brief, high level submission on 26 November 2013 . The University’s submission argued that a compelling case remains for continuing Commonwealth involvement in higher education and research because of the sector’s importance for human capital development, knowledge production and productivity improvement through basic research and innovation. It urged the Commission to take a holistic approach when considering changes to policy and programs that may impact on the activities of universities. It stressed the vital importance of research-intensive universities to nations in the global knowledge economy, and highlighted policy, funding and other developments that are potentially threatening the international competitiveness (and global ranking performance) of Australia’s leading universities. The submission suggested areas where policy and funding programs for higher education and research could be made more effective and efficient, and outlined the types of reforms that are needed if Australia’s leading universities are to remain internationally competitive.

New South Wales Government – Progressing the NSW Economic Development Framework – October 2013

In October 2013 the NSW Government released its consultation document Progressing the NSW Economic Development Framework: Priorities for Government Focus in 2014. In its paper the government outlined the principles by which government priorities would be set and sought feedback from stakeholders on this process. The guidelines included: alignment with the NSW Economic Development Framework principles; degree of proposed partnership, involvement and collaboration (with industry, education, research institutes and key partners); potential to deliver achievable and specific outcomes; and potential to contribute to long-term macro –economic objectives and relevant NSW 2021 targets.
The University made its submission in October outlining its particular support for making NSW an attractive destination for global talent, and strengthening the education and research sectors as vital parts of a dynamic knowledge based economy. The University’s submission can be found here.

Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education – Research Impact Assessment Consultations – August 2013

On 19 June 2013 the Commonwealth Government released its discussion paper Assessing the wider benefits arising from university-based research, seeking stakeholder feedback on models to assess the impact of publicly-funded university-based research to complement the research quality assessment provided by the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) exercise. The idea being that the department and the ARC would develop a detailed analysis of issues raised and noting areas of agreement and contention.
On behalf of the University, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Jill Trewhella made a submission to the consultation committee which can be found here. Universities Australia also made a submission.

Australian Law Reform Commission – Copyright and the Digital Economy – August 2013

In May 213, the Commonwealth Government’s Law Reform Commission released its Copyright and the Digital Economy discussion paper seeking submissions from relevant stakeholders. This paper was the second stage in the consultation process to determine whether the Copyright Act needs amendment to allow Australia to fully participate in a modern digital economy. Stakeholder submissions would help inform the final deliberations before the release of the final report by the Attorney General.
With the assistance of the Office of General Counsel and the University Librarian, the University made a submission in August. The final report will be available publically after it has been tabled through Parliament.

NSW Department of Primary Industries – Agriculture Industry Action Plan – August 2013

In June 2013, the NSW Department of Primary Industries announced the release of its Growing the Partnership of Industry and Government: Agriculture Industry Action Plan discussion paper, explaining that the Government had established industry-led taskforces to develop Industry Action Plans to position key sectors of the NSW economy over the next decade. The Government sought answers to key questions through stakeholder submissions.
With contributions from the Faculties of Agriculture and Environment and Veterinary Science, the University made a submission to the NSW Government in August.

Commonwealth Treasury – Self-education expenses – July 2013

In May 2013, the Commonwealth Government released its Reform to education expenses discussion paper seeking submissions by July. The Government subsequently announced that from 1 July 2014 that it would introduce a $2,000 per annum cap on the amount that eligible taxpayers may claim as work-related self-education expenses to save $520 million over four years.
For further information about the proposed reform and consultations please see here.
Various stakeholders made submissions, including the AMA, Universities Australia and the Go8.
The University made a submission to the Commonwealth Treasury in July.
On 6 November however, the new Coalition Government announced that they would not proceed with the previous Government’s announcement to implement a $2000 cap on self-education expenses.

Higher Education Standards Panel – Second call for comments – July 2013

On 28 May 2013 the Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP) is released its second call for comment on proposed revisions to the interim Threshold Standards that underpin Australia’s higher education regulatory framework.

In its submission of 19 July 2013 the University was broadly supportive of the proposed reforms, but raised some concerns and suggestions for consideration. The submission also expressed the hope that there would be ample time provided for consultation on the full set of proposed new standards once the HESP had completed its redrafting work.

Independent Review of Higher Education Red-Tape, June 2013

On 29 May 2013 the Minister for Tertiary Education Craig Emerson announced a review of higher education regulation and reporting to be undertaken by Professor Kwong Lee Dow and Valerie Braithwaite.
The review’s discussion paper and final report are available here.

The University’s submission to the review provided an overview of key areas where the University believes reporting and other administrative burdens have increased as a result of government regulation, and put forward ideas for reducing the burden over time.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Development of country strategies for Japan, China, Indonesia, India and South Korea – May 2013

In April 2013 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade commenced consultations with stakeholders to assist with the development of specific strategies for Australia’s future engagement with Japan, China, Indonesia and South Korea.

The University’s submission of 31 May 2013 included a submission for each country prepared by or in consultation with academic staff members with relevant expertise.

Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee – First six-monthly review of the implementation of the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 – May 2013

During 2012 the University of Sydney was closely involved with the negotiations and parliamentary debate that led to the passage of the Defence Trade Controls Bill through the Australian Senate on 31 October 2012.

The Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 seeks to give effect to Australia’s treaty obligations with the United States government by strengthening controls over the intangible transfer of certain technologies.

Amendments to the legislation achieved following advocacy by the Australian higher education sector established a two year implementation period during which the application of key parts of the Act relevant to the conduct of university research are being tested. Implementation is being overseen by the Strengthened Export Controls Steering Group (SECSG) chaired by the Chief Scientist. The SECSG’s website provides detailed information about the implementation process.
The Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee resolved to scrutinise the implementation process by requiring the SECSG to report on progress to the Senate every six months, and by giving stakeholders an opportunity to comment on the implementation process. The University of Sydney’s submission of 17 May 2013 is available here, while all other submissions and the FADT’s Committee’s report on the first six months of implementation are available through the link to the Committee’s review website above.

Further background information about the Defence Trade Controls Bill 2011 and the University’s involvement with the legislative process can be found through the update provided in November 2012.

For an overview of the issues from the University’s perspective, and events that led to the passage of the Bill through Parliament between 29 and 31 October 2012, see the paper released by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Jill Trewhella, on 17 November 2012.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade –Autonomous Sanctions Regulations Exposure Draft – May 2013

In April 2013 the University received notification from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of an opportunity to comment on proposed amendments to the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011. The amendments sought to apply additional sanctions in relation to Iran.

The University’s submission of 10 May 2013 was prepared by the Education Portfolio in consultation with the Office of General Counsel. It sought to ensure that the amendments did not result in unintended consequences in relation to their application to university education and research activities.

Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) – publication of its regulatory decisions – May 2013

In March 2013 TEQSA released a consultation paper seeking stakeholder views about its plans and processes for publishing regulatory decisions made about individual higher education providers.

The University’s response to TEQSA’s 11 consultation questions was submitted online. TEQSA’s summary report on the outcome of the consultation process is available here.

Australian Research Council – Excellence in Research for Australia 2012 Review – April 2013

In March 2013 the Australian Research Council commenced a review of the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia process to identify areas for improvement.

In its submission the University of Sydney made a number of practical suggestions designed to enhance the efficiency of the process without compromising its quality.

Senate Finance and Public Administration – Inquiry into the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Pharmaceutical Transparency) Bill 2013 – April 2013

In March 2013 Australian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale introduced to the Senate the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Pharmaceutical Transparency) Bill 2013 as a Private Senator’s Bill. The Bill was referred to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee for inquiry on 23 March 2013.

The Bill sought to place restrictions on the interactions between pharmaceutical companies and medical practitioners in order to minimise the opportunity for drug companies to unduly influence prescribing behaviour through the offering of inducements to medical practitioners.

The University made a brief submission to the inquiry out of concern that if enacted as proposed the Bill would have a range of unintended consequences for universities engaged in health and medical research and education.

The Committee presented its report on the Bill to the Senate on 17 June 2013. Both the majority and minority reports quoted the University submission extensively.

Higher Education Standards Panel – First call for comments – April 2013

The Higher Education Standards Panel is an expert advisory body established by Commonwealth legislation to provide independent advice to the Government on matters relating to the Higher Education Standards Framework.

As part of a review of the interim ‘Threshold Standards’ that higher education providers must meet in order to operate legally, the Panel issued its first call for comments in March 2013. This call covered the Panel’s plans regarding the Draft Standards for Course Design (Coursework) and Learning Outcomes (Coursework).

In its submission of 16 April 2013 the University was broadly supportive of the directions for reform proposed by the Panel, but offered some suggestions about areas where the proposals could be strengthened further.

Federal Opposition – Online Education Working Group consultations – April 2013

On 28 February 2013, the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott MHR, announced the formation of the Coalition’s ‘Online Higher Education Working Group’, to be chaired by Mr Alan Tudge MP.

The Working Group called for submissions from stakeholders in March 2013 and the University provided a brief submission on 5 April 2013. In its submission the University emphasised issues such as:

  • the importance of defining ‘on-line’ education broadly
  • the importance of underpinning infrastructure such as broadband, and
  • ensuring that the development of on-line policy is integrated with broader reforms to higher education funding and regulation.

Federal Opposition – Deregulation reform and consultations – April 2013

In November 2012 the Coalition released details of its plans to reduce the regulatory burden on the Australian economy, along with a consultation paper to stimulate engagement with different sectors of the economy.

The University of Sydney’s submission of 5 April 2013 provided a high level overview of the growing regulatory and reporting burden facing the University, and included recommendations to reduce the burden without compromising quality.

Parliament of Australia, Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade – Inquiry into Australia’s relationship with Timor-Leste – March 2013

On 6 February 2013 the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon. Bob Carr MP, asked the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee of the Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, to inquire into and report on Australia’s relationship with Timor-Leste. The terms of reference for the inquiry and all submissions are available through the Committee’s website.

The University of Sydney has a longstanding interest in Timor-Lest, with considerable relevant expertise and a breadth and depth of engagement with the country. The University of Sydney’s submission was made by the director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC), Associate Professor Michele Ford. The submission provided an overview of the University’s engagement with Timor-Leste and made five key recommendations designed to further strengthen Australia’s relationship with the country.

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment – Inquiry into the Higher Education Support Amendment (Asian Century) Bill 2013 – March 2013

On 14 February 2013 the Australian Government introduced legislation to Parliament to implement reforms designed to provide additional assistance for university students who wish to undertake part of their study in Asia.

The Bill was referred immediately for inquiry by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment. The University of Sydney made a brief submission to the inquiry supportive of the proposed reforms, and the Committee tabled its report in Parliament on 27 May 2013.

Council of Australian Governments (COAG) – Regulatory impact assessment of potential duplication of governance and reporting standards for charities – February 2013

In January 2013 COAG commenced consultations to identify ways of reducing regulatory duplication between the proposed Commonwealth governance and reporting standards for charities and existing State and Territory Requirements.

The University of Sydney’s brief submission of 21 February 2013 raised concerns about the potential for the establishment of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission to impose unnecessary additional regulatory and reporting burdens on universities.

Commonwealth Treasury – Development of governance standards for charities – February 2013

In December 2012 Treasury sought feedback on the Australian Government’s proposals to introduce governance standards for all charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).
In its submission of 15 February 2013 the University of Sydney argued that universities should be exempt from the proposed additional governance standards. The University also urged the ACNC and Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) to clarify the scope of their respective roles in regulating Australia’s universities.
The ACNC’s governance standards took effect on 1 July 2013. Further information is available here.