Government Response to the Review of Reporting Requirements for Universities

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In August 2012, PhillipsKPA undertook a review of reporting requirements for universities with the intention of reducing red tape in the higher education sector. They were commissioned by the LH Martin Institute, at the request of the predecessor to the then Department of Education and Universities Australia (UA).

The Review of Reporting Requirements for Universities was released publicly in April 2013.

To advance the government's objective of reducing red tape in the higher education sector, the former Minister for Education, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, accepted all of the recommendations of the Review of Reporting Requirements for Universities.

As a result of the machinery of government changes in September 2013, the Department of Education became responsible for higher education and aspects of university research.

The former Minister regarded this as a significant early step towards reducing the reporting and regulatory burdens on universities and other higher education providers, and intends to take further steps in consultation with the higher education sector. He welcomes the advice of Universities Australia and other stakeholders on this.

In responding to the Review of Reporting Requirements for Universities, the former Minister commended the work of PhillipsKPA, members of the Review's Reference Group and higher education stakeholders in identifying the following key areas for reform:

  • duplication and a lack of coordination of reporting requirements;
  • tendency of reporting requirements to accumulate over time;
  • issues relating to definition and documentation;
  • issues relating to scale and proportionality;
  • frequent changes of reporting requirements and inadequate planning for change; and
  • concerns with universities' access to useful and timely information.

Progress has been made to address these issues, including:

  • establishing a High Education Data Committee to oversee the implementation of the Review's recommendations and the governance of higher education data collections;
  • amendments to the Higher Education Support Act (2003) to allow the Department of Education (the department) to disclose more data to regulators, states and territories, other Commonwealth bodies, higher education providers and peak bodies. As noted by the Review, UA has supported the amendments which will help ensure that regulatory functions operate within known parameters and that the reporting burden on universities is kept to a minimum; and
  • the elimination of a separate information collection for universities' Institutional Performance Portfolios (IPPs);
  • formulating an implementation plan and timetable to monitor the Review's recommendations;
  • the development of a departmental reporting calendar on the HEIMS HELP website, which provides institutions with key submission dates on an annual basis.  This calendar will be expanded to include all Commonwealth and State annual reporting requirements; and
  • finalising a contract with the Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association (TEFMA) for a three year licence to access selected infrastructure data through TEFMA's Benchmark and Environmental Surveys. This removes the need for the Capital Asset Management Surveys.

The government's response to the Review, will ensure the momentum continues.

Key priorities include:

  • developing a single higher education research data collection;
  • listing annual reporting requirements to enhance understanding of the scale of reporting and to identify areas of duplication;
  • developing a single equity report;
  • removing duplication of reporting of capital asset management;
  • streamlining or removing Tuition Protection Service default reporting requirements; and
  • streamlining data collections by integrating international and financial reporting into the HEIMS.

The department will oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Review in consultation with the Higher Education Data Committee. This committee has been established at an operational level to draw on the high level of data analysis expertise and become a clearing house for higher education data and reporting. The committee reports to the TEQSA Advisory Council.

Implementation of the Review's recommendations will allow universities to spend more time delivering the best higher education possible, freeing them from unnecessary reporting.

UA will also be asked to provide the Minister with an assessment on the implementation of the Review, including an estimate of the cost savings to universities in December 2014.

Information on text

As a result of the machinery of government changes in September 2013, the Department of Education became responsible for higher education and aspects of university research.

The Review's use and references to the former Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education has been replaced by [the department] which refers to the Department of Education. All references to "the department" refer to the Department of Education.

Recommendations in the Review were prioritised as short term (S), medium term (M) and long term (L).

Last modified date: 11 December 2013