Universities Accord final report released

February 26, 2024

On 25 February, the Government released the Australian Universities Accord final report.

You can see the full report here, the summary report here, and the Education Minister’s announcement here.

The report contains 47 recommendations, with a strong focus on equity and increased opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The first recommendation is that the objective of a national tertiary education system is:

underpinning a strong, equitable and resilient democracy, and driving national economic and social development and environmental sustainability.

The remaining recommendations are grouped as follows:

  • Meeting our current and future skills needs
  • Expanding opportunity to all
  • Delivering for students
  • Producing and using new knowledge
  • A dynamic, collaborative and responsive system that serves the national interest
  • Transition

On Artificial Intelligence (AI) the report says:

Artificial Intelligence is likely to change the way Australians work, and universities should look to harness its potential further in learning and teaching.

Our universities are well-positioned to assist Australia’s transition to a digital, knowledge economy, with IT-related Australian research cited twice as much as the global average, reflecting strong performance in the fields of multimedia, data science and artificial intelligence, including machine learning and computer vision.

Research infrastructure facilities are crucial to strong foundations for Australia’s research sector. They are essential to breakthrough fundamental research, cutting-edge applied research, adoption of new technologies, and addressing global challenges. They also provide sovereign capability that can rapidly respond to new opportunities and threats, such as artificial intelligence or the COVID-19 pandemic.

Generative AI will also affect research activities. Emerging research shows that AI can lead to large productivity improvements in knowledge and information work, with one study identifying productivity improvements of up to 25% combined with quality improvements of 40%. This potential applies to research productivity and building new forms of research infrastructure, especially if different fields build their own generative AI models. Australian universities have the experience, infrastructure and expertise to lead in these areas.

The Government is considering the report’s recommendations.