RMIT welcomes ambition for essential reform of tertiary education system

RMIT welcomes ambition for essential reform of tertiary education system

RMIT welcomes the commitment of the Albanese government and Minister Clare, working with the expertise of Professor Mary O’Kane and the Accord panel, to recommend essential reform of the tertiary education system

As the country’s largest dual sector university, we are proud to have actively contributed to the Accord process.

The recommendations of the final Accord report recognise that the current system needs transformative innovation if we are to support lifelong learning and economic productivity.

Australia needs both vocational and higher education to solve current and looming skills crises. This was acknowledged by Minister Clare who said clearly that we need to remove the artificial barrier between vocational and higher education, and we need more diversity – different universities doing different things.

Letting go of the outdated notion that you get skills at TAFE or vocational education, and knowledge from higher education, paves the way for a national, inclusive tertiary education system where vocational and higher education work seamlessly together.

At RMIT, we firmly believe firmly that’s how we are going to address Australia’s pressing skills shortages and the rapidly changing nature of work. 

We welcome measures in the Accord to widen access and participation in undergraduate education, however this alone will not address the skills crisis or help Australians remain employed. 

At RMIT we believe we can do it differently – we've got some proven ‘earn and learn’ models that offer a large cohort workers access to skills without forcing them to make a choice between re-training and income and they’re producing great outcomes.

We need to ensure people’s skills are easily recognised and transferrable - modular, stackable units of study – this will be key to creating a more inclusive skills-based tertiary system.

alex-cameron-sept23-v2-1200x732 Professor Alec Cameron, Vice-Chancellor and President. Credit: RMIT University

The growth in today’s learner population is increasingly working age, transitioning occupations, and representative of a broader cross section of Australian society. This means we must design and scale up a new tertiary, multi-sector learning approach that better supports this more diverse population.

Examples such as RMIT’s higher and degree apprenticeships developed with industry move seamlessly between vocational and higher education and are producing real and tangible results for employers.    

We know earn and learn models work - one of the higher apprenticeship pilots that RMIT developed with government and seven industry partners saw a qualification completion success rate of 87.5 per cent – far higher than the norm for diploma-level qualifications in Australia. 

There is no doubt that we’ll need more funding and investment to design and implement a system fit for the future – this can be achieved over time. 

It will be through a collective effort with state and federal government, the tertiary sector and industry working together to agree a sustainable way forward to fund this essential change.

RMIT started as a Working Man’s College over 137 years ago, established to provide the skills of the day in times of rapid change.   

We stand ready and well-equipped to help more Australians access the skills and qualifications at their different stages of life.

As I’ve said previously, in our shared pursuit of a more equitable and prosperous Australia, change is necessary if we are to level what is arguably the most important playing field of all. 


Professor Alec Cameron, Vice-Chancellor and President

26 February 2024


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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.