Good morning,


At a lazy 152 pages, the Universities Accord’s interim report takes a bit of digesting. If this is the draft version, what’s the final tome going to run to? Maybe the panel needs a bit of new blood. Someone called Tolstoy.


And with 70-odd “spiky” ideas to test out, the real work starts now, as Jason Clare explained yesterday at the National Press Club. “Between now and the end of the year, when the final report is due, it’s a chance for everyone here in this room and right across the country to test these ideas – pressure-test them, pull them apart, critique them, improve on or reject them, and suggest others.”


You’ve got to feel for the panel members. It’s not as if they’ve got day jobs, like running a university or an investment bank. But for all the work they’ve done to this point, some people already want more – particularly around the vexed issue of research funding. Research featured little in Clare’s presentation, and the report is light on proposals to sustain present efforts, let alone press for more investment.


And then there’s some of the other ideas, like financially supporting students on placements, or updating the demand-driven system so that it subsidises students for all the qualifications they want. Asked how much of all this the government can afford, Clare pulled out an oft-used phrase. “Not every great idea can be funded,” he said. “We won’t be able to do everything. We won’t be able to do everything right now.” The final report will feature a “timetable” with sequenced priorities, he explained. “What are the things that we need to do in the next four or five years? What do we need to do over the course of the next 10 years? What are the things that we need to do in the decade after that?”


Reform isn’t necessarily quick, or cheap. And it isn’t necessarily popular. There’s plenty in the report to rile people, not least the idea of a levy on international students’ fees. But the accord has offered a framework for discussions by articulating most of the big issues. And it’s got some runs on the board, with five largely popular measures already delivered. All round, a pretty good start.

– John Ross, Asia-Pacific editor


Universities Accord panel reveals its hand

Levy on international student fees, needs-based student funding and second national university among accord panel’s “spiky ideas”, aimed at improving equitable access

Vice-chancellors’ pay rises ‘paused’

While Covid-19 interrupted the inexorable rise in Australian university leaders’ pay packets, many still pocket seven-figure packages

Use of machine translation ‘debated’

Universities forced to reassess requirements for international students to compose their assignments in English, amid improvements in AI tools

Sino-Australia research tie in freefall

Australian researchers are turning their backs on the nation that produces the biggest share of the world’s most highly cited journal articles

Non-native speakers ‘disadvantaged’

Linguistic challenges exert a huge toll on non-native English speakers as they pour disproportionate effort, time and money into academic tasks

Brain drain fears in Bhutan

While Australia has long been favoured education destination for the mountain kingdom, it now hosts a “major proportion” of the population

Boost for suburban study hubs

Universities’ lack of visibility in Sydney’s sprawling western suburbs is part of the reason why far fewer locals have degrees than their inner-city peers



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Is Trudeau failing science test?

After early funding spike for basic research from Canada’s Liberal government, there is growing sense of drift – and concern about the future

Korea’s ambitious excellence initiative

Revealed shortlist for “Glocal” scheme aims to boost universities outside Seoul and drive innovation in the face of demographic decline

Fighting to uphold standards

As students receive final degree marks amid grade inflation concerns, four scholars reflect on their experiences of being pressured to mark more leniently

Universal basic research funding

Over 1,000 professors at Ghent will get €30,000 a year to spend as they please as a remedy to the low success rates of national and international competitions


Russian universities in wartime are reverting to Soviet settings

The unravelling of internationalisation and academic freedom is likely to come with repurposing of research to military ends, says Maria Yudkevich

Academia is too much for my neurodivergent brain. I’m leaving

I want my research to fuel change and make a positive impact on the world, and I do not want to suffer in the process, says Heidi Green



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