2024 Federal Budget and the Universities Accord

The 2024 Federal Budget has been handed down! Here are some of the key highlights that potentially impact the Universities Accord.

Australian Universities Accord – tertiary education system reforms

Details of the following reforms to boost equity and access to higher education and to progress tertiary harmonisation will be announced once final consultations with relevant stakeholders have completed:

  • The Australian Tertiary Education Commission, which is intended to be established by 1 July 2025, will be responsible for tertiary education system stewardship, delivery of funding arrangements for higher education, ongoing tertiary harmonisation and data collection and reporting.
  • Managed growth funding for universities is intended to commence from 1 January 2026. This approach will more accurately reflect student demand, support efficient growth in places, and help Australia to reach its tertiary attainment target.
  • A needs-based funding system is intended to be implemented from 1 January 2026 to better support First Nations students, students from low socio-economic status backgrounds, students with disability and students studying in regional and remote Australia.

The cost of this measure will be partially met from savings identified in the Education Portfolio, including:

  • $57.2 million over four years from 2024–25 (and an additional $167.5 million from 2028–29 to 2034–35) by ceasing funding for new scholarships for domestic and international students under the Destination Australia program
  • $8.0 million over four years from 2024–25 by reducing funding for the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching program.

Women’s Budget Statement

  • Building Women’s Careers program – The Government will invest $55.6 million over four years, commencing in 2024–25, in the Building Women’s Careers program which will drive structural and systemic change in training and work environments.
  • Diversity in STEM – In response to the Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review, the Government is providing $38.2 million over eight years from 2023–24 (and $1.3 million ongoing) to support a thriving, skilled and diverse STEM workforce. This funding will scale up Women in STEM and science engagement programs that are creating positive change to attract and retain more women, and other under-represented groups, in STEM education and jobs.
  • Supporting women’s skills development –The National Skills Agreement will see the Commonwealth Government invest up to $12.6 billion in state and territory training systems, taking the total combined investment to $30.0 billion. $250.0 million of Commonwealth funding, to be matched by states and territories, is dedicated to improving VET qualification completion rates for women as well as other cohorts who face completion challenges.

Future Made in Australia – Workforce and Trade Partnerships for Renewable Energy Superpower Industries

  • The Government will provide $218.4 million over eight years from 2023–24 (and $1.3 million per year ongoing) to support a Future Made in Australia through the development of a skilled and diverse workforce and trade partnerships. Funding includes:
  • $91.0 million over five years from 2023–24 (and an additional $0.6 million over three years from 2028–29) to support the development of the clean energy workforce, including through addressing vocational education and training sector trainer workforce shortages, and funding new and existing training facility upgrades across a range of clean energy occupations.
  • $55.6 million over four years from 2024–25 to establish the Building Women’s Careers program to drive structural and systemic change in work and training environments. The program will fund partnerships between training providers, community organisations, employers, and unions to improve women’s access to flexible, safe and inclusive work and training opportunities in traditionally male-dominated industries of national priority, including clean energy sectors.
  • $38.2 million over eight years from 2023–24 (and $1.3 million per year ongoing) to provide funding for a range of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs to increase diversity in STEM education and industries.
  • $10.0 million in 2025–26 to establish a National Hydrogen Technology Skills Training Centre, in partnership with the Victorian Government, to promote hydrogen workforce development to support the skilled workforce needs of the growing domestic hydrogen industry.
  • $8.7 million in 2024–25 to continue to provide analysis, oversight and implementation support to deliver on Australia’s renewable energy superpower opportunities, and review Australia’s critical minerals trade policy settings.
  • The Government will provide $4.4 million in 2024–25 to drive demand for Vocational Education and Training (VET) in support of delivering the workforce required to meet Australia’s future skills needs.

Joint event

Engineers Australia (EA) and the Australian Council of Professions (ACoP) are excited to announce that we will be hosting what is expected to be a very informative roundtable event on Thursday 23rd May (9:00 am – 12:00 noon) on the Impact of the 2024 Federal Budget response to the Universities Accord. The event will be face to face at the Engineers Australia offices, First floor, Auditorium, Engineering House, 11 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600. An online option will also be available.  

The event promises insightful discussions on the implications of the 2024 Federal Budget on the recently released Universities Accord with an objective to prioritise and build alliances for advocacy in relation to the budget and Universities Accord and formulating a strategy for further collaborative advocacy. 

The event is free and open to all those with an interest in the future of education in Australia.

Registration details via EventBrite here.

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