The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that Australia maintains its position as an established global leader in world-class research and that Australian researchers continue to have access to cutting edge research infrastructure.
Government investment in national research infrastructure
Demonstrating this commitment, as part of the 2018-19 Budget, the Government announced investment of $1.9 billion over 12 years in the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) to support national research infrastructure (NRI) and secure Australia’s research future.
This investment builds on the $259 million in funding committed during 2017-18 to support high performance computing and astronomy; and complements the ongoing funding commitment of $150 million per year (indexed) in NCRIS, that the Government announced in the National Innovation and Science Agenda in 2015.
The Government’s investment in NRI will provide Australian researchers with access to critical infrastructure which allow Australian researchers to address today’s research challenges.
Please direct any inquiries to: Researchinfrastructure@education.gov.au.
Increased opportunities for students in regional Australia
The Australian Government is increasing opportunities for students in rural and regional areas to enjoy the benefits of higher education.
Expand accessibility of sub-bachelor programs
The Australian Government will provide $28.2 million to expand the availability of sub-bachelor (including enabling) places to allow greater access to higher education for rural and regional students. It is estimated that this will provide around 500 additional commencing sub-bachelor and enabling Commonwealth supported places from 2019 (growing to 688 by 2020). These places will only be available to those institutions that operate in regional areas. The allocation of places to enabling and sub bachelor places will be determined following consultation with the sector. Places will be allocated through a competitive process prioritising regional needs and capacity to deliver solutions to those needs.
Expand accessibility for bachelor students at regional study hubs
The Australian Government is providing $14.0 million to fully support an additional 500 Commonwealth supported bachelor places (CSPs) for rural and regional students. Eligibility is limited to places for students studying at regional study hubs (RSHs). Funding for an additional 185 CSPs will be available annually from 1 January 2019, growing to around 500 CSPs by 2022.
Regional Study Hubs
The Australian Government committed $16.7 million over four years to assist in the establishment and maintenance of up to eight regional study hubs across regional Australia. The department will invite interested stakeholders to apply for funding to support regional students to study all or part of their higher education via distance education. Further details about the Regional Study Hubs Program are available.
An improved approach to meeting rural medical education and workforce needs
The Australian Government is implementing new medical education strategies to better manage the supply of medical graduates and expand opportunities for learning and training in rural Australia. Together with workforce measures in the Health portfolio, these strategies will help improve the recruitment and retention of doctors in rural and regional Australia and increase access to medical and health care in these communities.
An Assessment Framework for proposals for medical schools or medical places
A robust and transparent Assessment Framework will be introduced to evaluate proposals for new medical schools or campuses and/or medical Commonwealth supported places (CSPs) consistently against key Government priorities, based on medical workforce need, the availability of clinical training capacity and funding.
Universities seeking to develop new or expanded medical school programs will be supported by the Assessment Framework 's transparent principles that will help them develop their proposals. The Department of Education and Training and the Department of Health will in turn apply the framework to evaluate submissions against government priorities.
The Department of Health will undertake triennial assessments of national medical workforce data to help identify emerging medical workforce priorities. The Australian Government will generally only consider proposals for medical schools/places in the context of these triennial assessments.
Assessing the feasibility of setting controls on full-fee paying medical enrolments
Around 80 per cent of medical enrolments are in CSPs capped by the Australian Government. The remaining 20 per cent are in largely unregulated and growing domestic and international full-fee paying medical enrolments. To maintain alignment between the number of medical graduates and workforce requirements, the Australian Government proposes to investigate the feasibility of implementing enrolment controls on these full-fee paying medical enrolments.
Universities without an allocation of medical CSPs do not require Australian Government approval to establish full-fee paying postgraduate medical courses. Recent university moves to establish Doctor of Medicine medical programs on a full-fee paying basis will add to the expansionary trend of full-fee paying medical graduates in Australia.
Applying controls evenly across all medical students, not just those in Government subsidised places, will support alignment between medical workforce supply and national health care needs. A legislative or regulatory approach will also help the Government manage downstream training costs and ensure domestic medical graduates continue to access internship and specialist training opportunities.
A pool of medical Commonwealth supported places (CSPs) to support innovative medical initiatives
As health workforce data forecasts a national oversupply of doctors by 2030, no overall increase in medical places is needed at this time. The current distribution of medical CSPs reflects historical decisions and new options are needed to respond to new circumstances.
To provide flexibility to support key health workforce priorities as they emerge, the Australian Government will establish a small pool of medical CSPs drawn from existing university allocations. The pool will withhold around two per cent of existing commencing medical CSPs (up to 60 places) every three years for redistribution between universities through a competitive process, starting from 2021.
Despite the forecast national doctor oversupply, recruiting and retaining doctors in many regional, rural and remote areas of Australia remains difficult. As a result, the first redistribution round will prioritise regional medical students and integrated regional training. Informed by triennial national medical workforce data assessments, subsequent rounds will focus on emerging medical workforce pressures and policy priorities.
Thirty of the 60 medical CSPs from the first redistribution round will be allocated to support a new rural medical school network in the Murray Darling region (see below).
As a transition arrangement for the first round, universities whose medical CSP allocations are reduced will be allowed a commensurate increase in their international full-fee paying medical enrolments.
The Government will consult with universities and other key stakeholders to develop the pool mechanism.
New rural medical school programs to be established in the Murray Darling region
To strengthen the training pipeline to build the rural doctor workforce, a series of full rural medical school programs will be established in the Murray Darling region (the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network). This network will be funded and managed through the health portfolio as part of the Stronger Rural Health Strategy.
Evidence shows that enrolling students from a rural background and having students undertake long-term rural training increases the likelihood of them staying and working in rural practice.
The Murray Darling region has longstanding community support for a medical school to give rural students opportunities to study medicine. The region is supported by a number of large rural centres with potential for expanding rural medical training based on patient population, infrastructure and clinical training capacity and a number of universities with a longstanding, substantial presence in the region.
The Australian Government will move to full cost recovery for a number of key higher education services. This is in line with the Australian Government Charging Framework, which requires that full cost recovery is generally expected from non-government recipients of government services. To date, these services have not been compliant with the Charging Framework.
Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA)
A new charging model will be introduced to fully recover the cost of TEQSA 's regulatory activity, comprising:
- increased application-based service fees to recover the full cost of regulatory assessment work; and
- a new annual sector-wide levy that recovers all of TEQSA 's other regulatory monitoring, compliance and risk activities that have sector-wide focus and benefit.
Consultation with stakeholders will take place in the coming weeks, through a draft Cost Recovery Implementation Statement for TEQSA.
The new cost recovery arrangements for TEQSA will be phased in over four years from 1 January 2019.
There will be two new charges applied to the Higher Education sector to support regulatory activities to maintain the sustainability of the HELP program. The new charges to be introduced on 1 January 2019 are:
- a flat fee applied to applications from registered higher education providers seeking approval to offer FEE-HELP
- an annual charge will be applied to all HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP providers based on their size
Consultation with stakeholders will take place in the coming weeks, through a draft Cost Recovery Implementation Statement.
Further information on these charges can be obtained by contacting FEE-HELP@education.gov.au