Red tape puts national priorities on the line, Go8 warns

By Melissa Coade

Monday May 2, 2022

Go8 CEO Vicki Thomson
Go8 CEO Vicki Thomson. (Go8)

Excessive regulation of the university sector is preventing resources from being directed to core national priorities, according to the Group of Eight universities (Go8), which has released a policy paper ahead of the federal election calling for change. 

The Go8 has called for more cross-portfolio collaboration between departments when designing regulation so that duplication, overlap and redundancy can be comprehensively avoided.

Australian universities are footing the bill for an ‘onslaught of new red-tape and regulation’, the Go8 claims, adding up to a spend exceeding $500 million per annum. 

The eight largest universities in the nation argue this money is being diverted away from essential teaching and world-leading research, shortchanging Australia’s future.

Go8 CEO Vicki Thomson suggested the $500 million could be better spent funding an estimated additional 1,000 graduating doctors a year, and boost domestic engineering bachelor graduates by two-thirds.

“There have been numerous reviews and parliamentary inquiries over the past decade which have recommended regulatory and reporting reforms as well as the streamlining of research funding arrangements, however momentum was short lived. 

“Instead, the regulatory burden on our universities has and continues to increase significantly,” Thomson said. 

“Our universities should not be so comprehensively tied up in red-tape and countless data and information exercises,” she added. 

The Go8’s latest policy paper ‘Essential decisions for national success: reducing the regulatory overload on our universities’ outlines how funding more quality graduates will deliver major infrastructure projects, boosting cyber resilience, and support work of the sovereign defence industry. 

Thomson said AUKUS projects in particular would benefit from a choice to reinvest regulatory funds into extra graduates. 

“[More graduates would provide] real time solutions and products through R&D, deliver life-saving medical research and advances in the agricultural sciences,” she said. 

The three priority considerations the Go8 want the major parties to consider ahead of the election include: 

  1. All new legislation impacting the higher education sector be subject to a full legislative and regulatory scan by the sponsoring minister’s agency to identify areas of overlap, duplication, redundancy.
  2. That there be cross-portfolio collaboration between departments when designing regulation – with the purpose of eliminating duplication, overlap and redundancy.
  3. A new requirement to ensure effective and efficient regulation so that new legislation brought forward must demonstrate it has been developed through consultative, robustly developed and evidence-based policy.

“The implementation of these recommendations is essential. We want to be able to focus on our core role – educating our future leaders and innovators and producing world-class research in areas that are now critical to shape our nation’s future,” Thomson said.


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