The majority of Australians will have a university degree in the next 15 years, marking a massive shift in what’s demanded of workers.
Federal Education Minister Jason Clare says Australia’s university system is not fit for an upcoming “skills challenge” with “almost every new job that’s created in the years ahead requiring a TAFE qualification or a university degree”.
Mr Clare will introduce the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report in an address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, where he will outline changes that need to be made to make universities “fit for the future”.
The report estimated that 55 per cent of Australians will hold a university degree by 2050, a huge leap from the 36 per cent of the workforce who hold degrees today.
It’s estimated that the number of people at university will double in that time to 1.8 million people each year.
Mr Clare flagged that university placements would need to open to more Australians to support the demand for educated workers.
“What this report says is the only way to really do this, is to significantly increase the number of university students from the outer suburbs and the regions, students from poor backgrounds, students with a disability and Indigenous students,” he said.
“If we don’t, we won’t have the necessary skills and the economic firepower we need to make this country everything it can be in the years ahead.”
The Albanese government believes that “bold, long-term change is required to fulfil the mission of higher education in Australia.
The government has announced a number of “immediate actions” including abolishing the 50 per cent pass rule, increasing funding for First Nations students eligible for courses, and establishing an additional Regional University Study Hubs.
Other priorities include giving universities more support to improve governance and extending the Higher Education Continuity Guarantee for a further two years.