National Accreditation Best Practices Summit

In February 2018 we convened the inaugural National Professional Accreditation Best Practices Summit. The Summit was hailed by the participants as a very timely event with more than 140 participants, many intensive discussions between the higher‐education thought leaders in Australia and a communiqué ap‐ proved in the closing session.
The Summit was opened with a video address by Education Minister Birmingham

Minister Birmingham favourably mentioned the Summit in his speech to the ~1150 attendees at the University Australia Conference held a week later in Canberra, saying “Just last week, Professions Australia held a National Professional Accreditation Best Practice Summit, which was a great opportunity for participants to discuss the relationship between our higher education system, professional associations, industries and employers and students. This was an important and impressive initiative that demonstrates the commitment of the professional and university sectors to a collegiate approach regarding identification and adoption of good practice in professional accreditation.
Keynoters included Professor Mike Woods, Emeritus Professor Christine Ewan AM, the Hon Trish White, Anthony McClaran from TEQSA, Professor Kerri‐Lee Krause from Universities Australia as well as the Deputy Chairs of the Washington and Seoul Accords, Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Taylor AO and Pro‐ fessor Michael Johnson.

PA signs MoU with TEQSA

The Australian Council of Professions (ACoP or “Professions Australia”) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency that will allow for greater collaboration and sharing of information between the two organisations.

At the MOU signing during our 2017 Strategic Planning Day, TEQSA Chief Executive Officer, Mr Anthony McClaran, said the agreement further strengthened the existing relationship between two organisations who both share a strong interest in protecting the quality of Australian higher education.  “I am very pleased for the opportunity to formalise this arrangement with Professions Australia which will see us work closely to share information,” Mc McClaran said.  “The relationships we are building with industry professional bodies will ultimately assist TEQSA to streamline regulation and reduce the accreditation demand on providers.” 

Professions Australia Chief Executive Officer, Ms Liz Lang, said she was delighted to sign the agreement on behalf of member associations who represent more than 420,000 professionals nationwide.  “This MoU will help TEQSA to reach out and increase its engagement with the professional associations represented by Professions Australia and enable information sharing and collaboration between TEQSA and the professions,” Ms Lang said.  “We have a mutual interest in maintaining and improving the quality of higher education for students who graduate and practise as professionals across Australia.

Read the TEQSA Press Release.

If you are interested in more information about our collaboration with TEQSA, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or CEO@Professions.org.au.

Next Level for Professional Accreditation

Engineers Australia welcomes the Joint Statement of Principles for Professional Accreditation developed in cooperation with Universities Australia and Professions Australia.
Engineers Australia accredits all University undergraduate engineering courses, supporting the integrity of the profession,” said Ron Watts, Executive General Manager, Professional Standards & Practice at Engineers Australia. “The Engineers Australia accreditation process is based on competency standards that are recognised globally through our membership of the International Engineering Alliance (IEA). Engineers Australia is the only Australian professional association recognised by IEA to represent the engineering profession in Australia.

The Joint Statement of Principles – signed by Professions Australia President Michael Catchpole (left) and Chair of Universities Australia, Professor Barney Glover – is a joint undertaking by Universities Australia, representing 39 universities with 1.3 million students, and Professions Australia, representing 21 peak professional organisations including Engineers Australia.
Engineers Australia is the peak body for the engineering profession, representing more than 100,000 members from all disciplines of engineering and maintaining representation in every state and territory. “The agreement documents arrangements in place and will benefit both students and professionals,” Mr Watts said.

Read the Engineers Australia Media Release.

PA and UA sign Joint Statement

Professions Australia and Universities Australia, the national peak body of the 39 public universities, have signed the Joint Statement of Principles for Professional Accreditation, a landmark agreement that will deliver greater clarity on the respective roles of universities and professional accreditation bodies to ensure graduates are best qualified for the professions they seek to enter.

The formal signing took place at Universities Australia’s flagship annual conference, which brought together more than 800 senior leaders from the university sector, business, policy and politics. Our President Michael Catchpole (front left) and Chair of Universities Australia, Professor Barney Glover, signed the Joint Statement which streamlines and improves consistency in the professional accreditation of university courses – essential to ensuring that graduates from professional degrees are ready for entry into the workforce. The agreement clearly defines the role of professional accreditation and the respective responsibilities of universities and professional accreditation bodies.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said that the agreement between the two peak bodies would benefit both students and professionals. “Enhancing national consistency in accreditation standards and processes at the discipline level will help to improve graduate mobility between States,” she said. “Professional employers around the country will be able to be even more confident that all graduates meet their standards.

Professions Australia (aka Australian Council of Professions – ACoP) Chief Executive Officer Liz Lang said that Joint Statement will further improve the competencies and job-readiness of graduates for entry into professional practice. “Universities and professional accreditation bodies will contribute to graduate quality according to their strengths. For the professional accreditation bodies, it is a focus on the capabilities, knowledge, ethics and professional standards needed for entry to the profession – while universities will focus on providing the best, cutting-edge educational design and course delivery. The statement is also an excellent example of how universities and the professions can work together to successfully self-regulate” Ms Lang said.

The members of Professions Australia and Universities Australia place a high priority on pursuing initiatives to enhance quality within the professions and to increase the contribution the professions make to the broader community.  While recognising that the overall professional accreditation process is a wider public good, Universities Australia and Professions Australia acknowledge that the immediate beneficiaries of robust professional accreditation processes are students and professionals.

Download the Joint Statement of Principles for Professional Accreditation here.

Read the joint Universities Australia and Professions Australia Press Release.

For more information on the Joint Statemnt and how you can use it in your organisation, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or at CEO@Professions.org.au!

Accreditation Dialogue between Unis and Professions

Professions Australia hosted a member forum on 1 April 2015 to progress work on the Universities Australia and Professions Australia draft Joint Statement of Principles for Professional Accreditation.

Chaired by former Professions Australia Board Member, Mr Rupert Grayston, the forum saw constructive and robust dialogue between the universities’ and professions’ representatives.

However, the open and frank nature of the discussions were seen as a good basis for progressing the content of the Joint Statement.


For details of the Joint Statement, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or CEO@Professions.org.au.

Higher Education at the Crossroads

The Australian Council of Professions (ACoP) has responded to the various reviews and papers initiated by the government over recent years and is now submitting comments on the overview paper ‘Higher Education at the Crossroads’.

ACoP Members are the major professional associations and they maintain contact with the professional schools in the universities in the various states. In many cases this contact is maintained by visiting panels of practitioners, in some cases in relation to the accreditation for professional purposes of professional courses and in others to sit on academic advisory panels. Additional contact is established by the presence on university teaching staff of practising professionals as part-time members of staff or as adjunct professors and senior advisers. In addition the presence of academic professionals as members of the professional associations on the courses boards and committees of the professional association further strengthens the lines of contact. The professions therefore have the opportunity to observe the state of professional education which forms a major component of the university system and to form opinions about its condition and in particular about the effect of successive changes to the system made in the fourteen years since the Dawkins Report.

In its various submissions ACoP has drawn upon the experience of many professional associations and many individual professionals to draw attention to the progressive deterioration in the funding of universities.

In its submission to the political parties prior to the last election, ACoP drew attention to the following special needs which it believes are still entirely relevant:

  • Academic salaries must be at a level to attract the best minds and to recognise the importance of teaching and research – recurrent funding must recognise this need.
  • Student to staff ratios must be substantially improved.
  • Teaching equipment and university infrastructure must be renewed and remain relevant to changing standards and changing needs.
  • Proposals for improved research funding must be fully implemented and encouragement of research kept as a vital priority.
  • The loss of talented individuals departing from Australia, (the “brain drain”), must be staunched – not however to prevent essential intellectual interchange taking place between countries in order to keep in touch with new knowledge.
  • While applied research and partnership with industry must be further developed it should not be at the cost of pure research from which creative innovation emerges.
  • Balance must be maintained so that the essential components of a civilised society embodied in the social sciences and humanities are not prejudiced.
  • New and innovative ways of learning must be encouraged, which may challenge conventional systems – especially for the professions.
  • New concepts of knowledge and of knowledge management must be encouraged.


The Australian Council of Professions acknowledges that the situation varies greatly from university to university, within universities from one disciplinary area to another.

Decisions have had to be made in many universities which have given priority in funding either to new buildings or to major new technological and other equipment for one disciplinary area while others languish creating internal tensions.

The shortfall in funding has been acknowledged in some ministerial statements, in the material presented by the Australian Vice Chancellors’ Committee and by independent observers.

In the seminar conducted by the Australian Council of Professions convened in July 2001, entitled ‘Professional Education in a Changing World’, the then President of the Australian Vice Chancellors’ Committee, Professor Ian Chubb AM, presented a paper entitled ‘Between Knowledge and Ability – Hopeful Signs for the Future’ in which he made a compelling case for greater resources for universities pointing out the disparity in the support being given to higher education in a number of other countries who are our trading partners by comparison with the support given in this country. It was clear that Australia was falling behind and in danger of losing our international competitiveness and our international standing in education and in research.

The Australian Council of Professions understands that the present paper and the present series of investigations instigated by the Minister are expected to lead to changes which will reverse the trend that has occurred over recent years.

While many other factors have been identified in the paper which may lead to beneficial changes the Australian Council of Professions is convinced that a major change must be in both the priority given to higher education by the government and the amount of money it is prepared to allocate from the public purse.

The earliest support for the development of Australian universities was seen by the government of the time, and indeed by the general community, as an important investment in the future of the country and an investment to enable the youth of the country, through education and the acquisition of knowledge and skills, to contribute to that future. It appears that over recent years public funding contributions to tertiary education have been seen more pragmatically as a cost to be considered in competition with other costs rather than as an essential investment which will yield benefits to contribute to all cost areas.

Governments must have the vision to see beyond immediate political imperatives and accept the absolute necessity of preparing the nation for the complexities and competitive demands of the knowledge based era in which we are now engaged.

While ACoP supports the investigation of alternative funding sources for universities we point out that universities generally have responded to shortfalls in public investment in universities by seeking alternative sources of funds in overseas fee-paying students, in collaborations with commerce and industry and in other innovative ways. While these developments have assisted they have also diverted university resources from their central roles of funding scholarship and research in many of the teaching disciplines.

We do not support any increase in the share of funding of universities paid by students which is already higher than fees paid by students in many other OECD counties. Nor does it support proposals by the Australian Vice Chancellors’ Committee that higher HECS rating may be paid for some courses since this would introduce equity considerations and prejudice students from lower income families.

We are concerned at the amount of reliance on full fee paying overseas students, to augment university funds, pointing out that there are educational developments in many of the countries from which these students come which could well reduce the flow in the future.

The Australian Council of Professions views with caution the implementation of specialisation which would cause the closing down of certain disciplines in some universities, although accepting that some careful rationalisation may be supportable. The particular geographic dispersion of population centres in this country can justify the retention of courses which may otherwise appear not to be viable. Such courses may well exist with support from and collaboration with local professional communities and fulfil a local need extending beyond immediate educational purposes.

In both teaching and research the Council believes that funding savings can be achieved by greater collaboration between universities. However current competition policies and proposals to increase competitiveness may well prejudice such collaboration.

We endorse the principle of learner centred education stated in the paper. Nevertheless ACoP believes that there is a danger in placing too much emphasis on the concept of teaching rather than learning with the implication that there are those who possess knowledge, the teachers, who then transmit it to those who receive, the students.

Many universities now have procedures for studying and improving teaching practices and also for encouraging and acknowledging excellence in teaching. It is significant that in at least one university the relevant centre is called ‘Centre for Learning and Teaching’, thus giving emphasis to the concept that, at a university it is the learning experience of the student that is most important, in which the individual student engages in a personal quest, developing the capacity for self learning and for critical enquiry. Too much emphasis on the concept of teaching diminishes the true nature of the university experience which is to share the search for knowledge. The best teachers are those who are capable of engaging the enthusiasm of the student for the area of knowledge and of encouraging the student to take part in personal exploration.

It can be said that the majority of teaching in universities is directly for the professions. Modes of teaching vary from profession to profession and in recent years developments have taken place in some professions giving greater emphasis to practical experience in courses, that is learning through doing or ‘situated learning’ as opposed to the traditional discipline knowledge based approach or ‘propositional knowledge’.

The dichotomy between theory and practice, the relationship of one to another and when and how they are taught in universities is a perennial consideration in professional courses. The degree to which the professional associations or individual practitioners can or should be involved in the educational process as well as student involvement in work situations, in which learning is part of work, is a subject for further investigation. It takes place in varying degrees in some professions as clinical experience and sometimes as simulated work experience. There are complex organisational and funding implications in the further application of this concept.

We believe that there is an urgent need for a discussion paper to be developed to study the concept of professional education taking account of societal changes which have taken place and to ensure that the education of professionals will serve Australia well into the first decades of the present century. The paper would examine changes in the concept of professionalism, professional educational modes, professional standards and ethics and the role of professional associations in education.

The Australian Council of Professions would welcome the opportunity to assist in the development of a discussion paper to define a concept of professional education for the twentyfirst century.

In view of the pressures to which universities and their teaching staff have been subjected over recent years it does not appear to be reasonable to expect that there will be further productivity gains unless it is by reforming administrative structures and reporting procedures to ease the present burdens on university staff. Present requirements for regulation by government and for the transmission of information, statistics and complex reports should be reviewed. Simplification of managerial demands and greater autonomy should be sought at all levels. The Council supports a thorough and sympathetic examination of current levels of regulations and reporting consistent with reasonable means of ensuring accountability.

ACoP agrees that there must be in Australia universities which can attain the highest international standards, measured by the quality of research undertaken, by contributions to global knowledge and by the excellence of performance of graduates. Generally centres of research excellence will be in one or a small number of disciplines in a university which can also act as exemplars to raise the general level of attainment in other disciplines. As has been pointed out the existence of such centres demands a sufficient number of high quality researchers to interact and to maintain international contacts and they will need accommodation, facilities and equipment at the most advanced level. That requires the provision of special funding.

We believe that special endeavours should be made both to provide additional public funding for this purpose and to have a national appeal to industry to support such a programme.

We do not believe that there should be a withdrawal of research funds from some universities to provide funding for such centres. ACoP considers that the best teaching is done by those who are seeking knowledge in research and that the best staff would not be attracted to universities which do not engage in research.

There should be an essential link between teaching and research in all disciplines so that the knowledge students gain is vital living knowledge growing out of research and continuous contact with evolving scholarship and not static knowledge.

The Australian Council of Professions would welcome the opportunity to take part in discussions on the Research Paper and to receive and comment upon subsequent supplementary papers. It would also be willing to contribute in whatever way is practicable to the Minister’s Reference Group, which it appears does not have a strong representation from the professions, bearing in mind the particular interest the professions have in the professional courses in universities.


This submission has been prepared for the Australian Council of Professions’ Education Committee; chairman emeritus Professor R N Johnson AC

Professional Skills Development

Reflecting our concern about the longer term economic and social impacts of ongoing professional skills shortages, Professions Australia has been working with our member associations to better understand the nature of these shortages (or in some instances – oversupply) and to explore possible approaches to better matching supply and demand over the longer term.

Our Education Committee has prepared a discussion paper “Skills Mapping: Assessing Australia’s Longer Term Requirements for Professional Skills”, which outlines some of the issues and makes recommendations on a possible way forward.
Professions Australia considers that a critical input into better matching the supply and demand for professional skills over the longer term is more comprehensive, robust and forward looking information on Australia’s likely future requirements for these skills, or “skills mapping”.

The objective of skills mapping would be to identify professional workforce issues, challenges and opportunities facing Australia over a 5-10 year timeframe to support broader based priority setting on a national level.  In our view it is an essential input into a more cooordinated approach by all stakeholders to professional workforce planning and policy development.

Our paper has been circulated widely including to relevant Ministers and Opposition spokespeople.

For more information call 1300 664 587 or contact CEO@Professions.org.au. Thank You!

New Knowledge – New Opportunities

Introduction

The Australian Council of Professions acknowledges the importance of the matters raised in the Discussion Paper on Higher Education Research and Research Training and appreciates the fact that the Minister is giving proper attention to this area. Nevertheless, it is generally acknowledged that the university system, including university research, is seriously affected by funding shortfalls. It is difficult to see that the present unsatisfactory situation will be retrieved without the acceptance by Government that the funding of universities and of university research must receive a higher level of priority in the allocation of funds under the Budget than at present.

Funding of higher education must not just be seen as a cost but as an investment and that investment is for the contribution those who undertake a university education will be making to the general community and the general economy. Certainly a university education enables an individual in many fields to achieve a higher level of earning but it also enables the individual to assist in raising the overall social and economic level of the community. It is fair that there should be a sharing between the government representing the community and the individual. This is achieved by HECS which is not only generally accepted but is seen as a desirable model by other countries.

The Minister’s discussion paper acknowledges the importance of knowledge as a ‘key factor’ and the importance of research as a ‘key source’ of knowledge. The aim of the paper in the encouragement of research, leading to innovation, must be accepted as an aim crucial to this country’s future and should certainly receive general support.

The attention, and the funding, given to knowledge growth and innovation through research in developed countries, most of which are our economic and trade competitors, emphasises the importance of the high priority this country must give to the encouragement of both pure and applied research as a vital component of our higher education system.

There does not appear to be disagreement on the aims – the critical question is whether the proposals in the paper are likely to achieve its aims and to improve research and research training in higher education as the Government expects, and whether there are included in the paper proposals which may damage the research capacity of some, or all, institutions of the higher education sector.

The response by the Australian Council of Professions recognises that individual professions have made their own submissions and that there are some differences of opinion on some issues. It is intended here to comment on some matters which may generally be seen as problematic and which are considered to need revision or further development rather than giving attention to the various positive aspects of the proposals in the discussion paper.

Funding

While acknowledging the Government’s recognition of the importance of research in the higher education sector, it cannot be seen in isolation from the general unsatisfactory state which universities have reached as a result of government policies and funding reductions. It is to be welcomed that the Minister now acknowledges in his recent Cabinet paper what is termed a ‘perception’ but which those with any real knowledge of the situation will know as a reality, that the University system as a whole is in a state of decline.

The Minister acknowledges both the importance of universities in our society and economy and that universities “are currently in a difficult financial position.

Research and learning in a university situation are closely linked, especially in relation to funding. In all disciplines it is necessary to encourage scholarship and research as a vital part of the living, evolving nature of the disciplines. If a level of research in all disciplines is not encouraged, the link between student learning and the encouragement of a critical, searching, expanding view of the discipline by both staff and students will be unlikely to occur. Students respond best to those who continue to explore in their discipline and who can convey the excitement of expanding knowledge. Furthermore, the attraction to the university faculty of the brightest minds will not take place without opportunities to engage in research. While this does not mean that every discipline in every university needs to be a centre of excellence where the most creative and forward looking investigation into the growth of the disciplines takes place, it does mean that some research in all disciplines in all universities should be encouraged. Those whose work merits it can then gravitate to universities which are regarded as centres of excellence in their discipline.

Bearing in mind the need to encourage research generally, it is important that the Research Infrastructure Block Grant should continue in its present form with adequate funding and not be made part of project grants of the various agencies. In the form proposed in the Green Paper it is likely that grants would come in relatively small amounts specifically for particular projects and would not allow universities to make adequate provision for general infrastructure and for large items of equipment which would be for general use and not be restricted to the recipient of an approved ‘discovery’ or ‘linkage’ application. Furthermore, it would make it extremely difficult to remedy existing shortfalls and build adequate infrastructure to meet expanding and changing future needs.

The principal objection the ACoP has to the Green Paper is that the changes proposed will demand more funds but there do not appear to be any proposals for increasing the funding to universities to provide for the changes. As previously stated, the universities are already seriously underfunded and any changes which further reduce funds would have serious consequences for the overall quality of the university system.

The following proposals in the green paper all appear to demand additional funding:

  • Additional research fellowships and Prime Minister’s scholarships are worthy objectives but are only to be funded, it appears, within existing funding for universities, and therefore must cut into scarce funds for other purposes.
  • The proposal that the eligibility for funding should be extended to a wider range of institutions ie to “all institutions undertaking research and research training” could well lead to a considerable expansion of applications by institutions outside the university system, with the result of further reducing funds for universities.
  • The proposal for grants of up to $500,000 a year for periods of up to 5 years under both the Discovery and Linkage systems does not appear to be predicated on new funding.
  • The support the Government has already given to research funding for biotechnology and health and medical research must be acknowledged as a valuable contribution. Nevertheless, the present funding proposals will mean that overall research and research infrastructure funding will drop significantly from the year 2000 at a time when there is a pressing need for expansion of funds.


There is now general acknowledgment of the need for increased funding of universities, both for general purposes and for research. Proposals in the Green Paper which will result in reduction in general funding due to increases in research activities will be to the serious detriment of the system as a whole. Some other means must be found to prevent this happening.


An Entrepreneurial Culture

The statement that it should be a key policy to develop an “entrepreneurial culture among researchers” may be misguided as it suggests that this should be a dominant, if not the most important, attribute to be held. The best researchers are those with the creative vision and the application to pursue their particular research area with a level of commitment and determination which leaves little time to engage in entrepreneurial activities. It is well-known to those in the private sector that the most successful entrepreneurs are those who are also dedicated and spend time and effort promoting their entrepreneurial proposals. For good researchers to spend the time it takes to be a good entrepreneur diminishes the time available for research and may even taint that research, notwithstanding the fact that there may well be some academics who can combine the two.

This is not to say that universities should not employ entrepreneurial managers who will work alongside and assist researchers to promote and commercialise discoveries, when those discoveries are at the point where development into commercial viability is possible. There is often a lengthy time span, sometimes of many years, during which a “research discovery” is worked on and developed. There may well be points along that route when consideration of possible commercial application becomes apparent and when an entrepreneurial outlook would be helpful but it should not dominate the attitude of the research, nor unduly reduce the researcher’s time and energy to the detriment of the research.

It must also be said that some research never leads to commercial implementation but adds to knowledge generally and this kind of research must not be discouraged by placing too much emphasis on “the development of an entrepreneurial culture”.

Our best researchers need to be able to both maintain their contact with the most forward looking research being carried out overseas, and to contribute to that research by their own work. If that doesn’t take place, the research record and reputation of this country will be diminished and, as one of the consequences, our researchers will seek posts elsewhere. The Green Paper acknowledges that there is already some evidence that this is happening. As there are many areas in which Australian research is at a high level internationally, the loss of leading researchers would have serious effects for the whole system.

The most effective and the most enthusiastic entrepreneurship should be coming from industry and there is evidence in many universities that such links with industry are taking place, primarily at the instigation of universities. The cooperative research centres and SPIRT programmes, which are to be retained and expanded, have shown what can be achieved, although there has been some criticism of the slowness of achieving results. There must be sympathetic and patient understanding that research results do not come off an assembly line. Industry must be prepared not just to expect short term rewards but to plan ahead over what may in some cases be many years, requiring the kind of research patience which is shown in progressive industries in countries overseas.

The Green Paper records that R&D investment by industry has declined recently and acknowledges the need for greater engagement by industry, especially in the provision of venture capital and the commercialising of research discoveries. An important role for Government is to provide incentives and the Australian Council of Professions will welcome taxation incentives and encourages government to develop other incentives.


Users and the Research Agenda

There is a danger that too great an emphasis on the role of users in defining the research agenda may lead to constraining research into areas which are already understood and acknowledged by users, with the result of failing to explore new, unfamiliar areas which may prove more innovative and productive eventually.

Some areas of research simply do not have immediate uses but may do in the long run. Others contribute to the general knowledge in ways which enrich the culture. It would not only be difficult to select appropriate users in such areas, for example in areas involving creativity, but users, almost by definition, would come with pre-established attitudes which could be prejudicial to innovative and high risk proposals which may in time prove of great importance.


Research Quantum

The ACP supports the proposal to simplify the means of arriving at the Research Quantum (or its equivalent) component of the Operating Grant, especially the proposal to include consultancy income which contributes to innovation, since this is entirely relevant to a number of professional faculties where consultancy is an essential component of the interaction between university and profession.


Social Science and Creative Arts Research

There are research areas of importance to a number of professions which involve creativity and social sciences research and which have not been given adequate attention under funding systems at present in place. Work in some professions and in their university faculties in the investigation and development of new products or new procedures relevant to that profession may not use the methods generally understood to constitute research and, unless this is understood, may not qualify for research funding under the proposed new system. The importance of these areas needs to be acknowledged and funding arrangements developed under any new system to ensure that they are not disadvantaged.


Research Student Numbers

In view of the recognised and accepted need to develop further this country’s, and therefore the universities’, research profile, the proposal to reduce the number of research students appears ill-advised. The statement about lack of success in employment of some PhD graduates does not appear to be based on a thorough analysis of causes and should receive more in-depth analysis before being used as a basis for reducing the number of research degree students. In any case there have been developments in universities of professional doctoral degrees targeted at the needs of industry and of the professions which may well lead to an expansion rather than a reduction in the number of places needed in the future.

In relation to the generally agreed overall need for more and better research as we move into a more intensely knowledge based economy, the proposal to reduce numbers is unfortunate and is not supported.


Research Student Funding

The proposal to reduce funding for PhD research students from 5 years to 3.5 years and for masters students from 3 to 2 years would seriously disadvantage many forms of research training, especially involving cross disciplinary research needing greater time to encompass a range of contributing disciplines. There are many practical realities which come in the pursuit of research goals which cannot always be encompassed in the restricted times now proposed. Undue restrictions on time could well lead to short cuts and failures to consider all necessary factors. At the very least there should be flexibility to take account of particular programmes which cannot be contained within the times proposed in the paper.


Conclusion

It is entirely appropriate that the importance of research should be acknowledged and the research record of the higher education sector examined, especially as the Australian community and economy come to grips with the rapidly changing and technologically complex world. At this time, investigation of innovations and putting the results of innovation into use must have the highest priority. The Government should acknowledge this and ensure that the additional funding necessary is provided. The proposals in the Green Paper do not give confidence that this will happen.

Recognition of Overseas Professional Qualifications

The Australian Council of Professions’ policy on the recognition of overseas professional qualifications is as follows:

  • each profession has the sole responsibility for setting and maintaining its standards within Australia;
  • each profession should recognise the qualifications of an overseas trained professional only if that person is as competent to perform in the profession as a person trained in Australia;
  • each profession has the sole responsibility for assessing qualifications gained overseas, together with other relevant factors, in order to determine whether an immigrant or potential immigrant is to be granted professional status within Australia;
  • professions may defer recognition of an overseas qualification which is otherwise acceptable until the person concerned has a sufficient command of English for effective practice in Australia;
  • professional recognition should be given to all who meet recognition requirements;
  • professions should apply their tests based on the professional status, standing and competence of a person rather than on the route taken by that person to achieve this standing; and
  • professions should keep under review their procedures of assessment of qualifications gained overseas and the basis on which assessments are made.

The Australian Council of Professions:

  • encourages the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition in its publication of the “Compendium of Guidelines for Assessment of Overseas Qualifications 1990” and supports any expansion which may give more specific guidance in respect of particular professions: and
  • requests the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition to continue its support of professions in their obtaining of information about overseas qualifications and to continue to provide financial and other assistance where appropriate.

Adopted at the General Meeting, 5 November 1990