Page 3664 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

MR SPEAKER: That is the question, yes. I do not expect the minister is about to make an announcement but I certainly would remind him not to. Thank you, Mr Barr. You have the floor.

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I thank Mr Hargreaves for the question and the opposition for their interest in this matter. As I think most members would be aware, education is the territory’s third largest industry. Our higher education institutions are world class and they export their services not only around the immediate region but, indeed, around the globe.

Foreign students in the tertiary sector inject something in the order of $200 million each year into the territory economy. In the secondary and primary schooling sector, ACT public schools, with 450 foreign students, are contributing just over $5 million a year into the local economy. There is, of course, considerable room for growth in both of these areas.

In my view, a worthy goal for the ACT economy and for our city in our second century is to grow the education sector to be our biggest industry and the biggest employer of Canberrans over the course of the next 100 years. What better way to diversify our economy and to protect Canberra workers and families from politically driven decisions to slash public sector jobs in our city than by investing in the development of our education sector. To achieve this aim, I set out the need for bold ideas and the most appropriate opportunities and challenges to take on in tertiary education. We formed the ACT tertiary task force to consult with stakeholders to develop the future of tertiary education in the territory.

The task force report, Learning capital: an integrated territory education system, included 12 key recommendations: the establishment of an ACT tertiary education steering committee, the development of a tertiary education portal to provide a single and easy-to-use information source for anyone thinking of studying in the city, greater collaboration between tertiary education providers to create a new and more streamlined range of learning opportunities to make it easier for students to move between institutions, to further promote Canberra as Australia’s learning capital and an international education city and to build greater partnerships between employers and education providers.

The task force also recommended closer ties between the Canberra Institute of Technology and the University of Canberra. The government continues its work in this area, and we commissioned Professor Denise Bradley, the architect of the national higher education reforms, to look specifically at those recommendations in relation to a closer working relationship between the CIT and the University of Canberra. This is the most significant issue in our third largest industry within the territory. It is worthy of considerable public debate. But that needs to be undertaken in an informed context.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Mr Hargreaves?

MR HARGREAVES: Thanks, Mr Speaker. Would the minister please advise on specific steps taken by the government in this regard to date?

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video