BackgroundUniversities make an integral contribution to the Western Australian (WA) society and economy – through educating our students, developing a highly skilled labour force across all industry and occupation areas, driving world class research and innovation, as large employers and also as key focal points and hubs within their local community.
However, in recent years, WA’s university sector has become increasingly constrained. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector experienced declining Australian Government funding, relatively low growth in student enrolments and a declining share of Australian Government competitive research grants. This has not been the consistent experience nationally.
This is in addition to the broader challenges being faced by the higher education sector, including increased international competition for prospective students and talent; changing student preferences in delivery models (online vs on-campus experiences) and the type of courses (micro-credentials vs multi-year degrees); speed of change in new technology and practices within industries, with an increased prevalence of employer credentialling.
There have been some positive efforts from institutes, with support from the WA Government, to address these challenges – including, for example, the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund, the International Centre for Radioastronomy Research (ICRAR), and the Pawsey High Performance Supercomputing Research Centre.
The WA Government therefore considers now is the time to undertake an independent review of the structure of the public university sector in WA to secure high performance and financial sustainability of the sector.
Note: This background information is quoted directly from the review Terms of Reference.