Page 3665 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 23 August 2011

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MR BARR: As I have indicated, the government formed the tertiary task force to consult with stakeholders on the future vision for tertiary education in the city, and the task force, and, indeed, the Hawke review, recommended closer collaboration, even a merger, between the University of Canberra and the CIT. The government responded to the task force’s report in April 2011 by establishing the Learning Capital Council, and I am pleased to advise that the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University, Professor Ian Young, has agreed to chair the council.

The group will undertake a variety of roles, including providing advice and directions on demand and supply of education, skills and training opportunities, including vocational education and training priorities; advising on a strategic plan for vocational education and training in schools to improve opportunities to better meet the needs of ACT students; and the expansion of our tertiary sector, including research, innovation and economic development.

We need to be aware that in a changing tertiary world standing still means going backwards. The government is clear that reform is required. That is why I commissioned Professor Bradley to look at the future of CIT and UC, and the report has recommended two key options: either the creation of a new dual-sector institution or greater autonomy for the CIT. We now have a task force modelling the options and talking to stakeholders on what each of the models would look like in practical terms.

The government will form a view as to which model it will bring forward to this place by the end of this year. We remain open-minded on the two options and will consider the task force’s work. But I can assure the Assembly that, whichever direction we go in, three key drivers of our decision will be to ensure that we better meet the needs of students and of local industry and that we create more education jobs for Canberrans.

MS PORTER: Supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. In relation to the programs, policies and vision outlined, would the minister advise of any community and stakeholder attitudes of which he is aware?

MR BARR: Certainly there have been a range of views put forward in response to the work of Professor Bradley, and indeed through the ongoing consultation process. I need to state from the outset that, as has been the experience in this place on most difficult reforms, it is hard for politicians to grasp change. There is the capacity for uncertainty, and some in this place are not particularly comfortable with that—not particularly comfortable with looking beyond the status quo.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate those across the two institutions, CIT and UC, who have taken up the opportunity for very genuine engagement on what the future could look like. Both Adrian Marron and Professor Stephen Parker are putting the future needs of the ACT economy and students above any concept of empire building or turf protection. They are working with the best interests of further education in the territory at heart.

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