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Higher education

Quality accessible higher education

Photograph showing two university students, one female and one male, working in a science laboratory.

Higher education institutions in Queensland make a significant contribution to economic growth, developing social capital and helping to build community capacity within the state. The department provides regulatory services and state assistance to support quality and accessible higher education now and in the future.

The department's higher education goals are to:

  • manage the administration of state-enabling legislation for Queensland universities, the regulatory framework, and university and government relations
  • develop appropriate policy responses to higher education issues, at both the state and national levels
  • uphold the standards of education delivered by higher education institutions operating in Queensland
  • enable growth in diversity and choice in the higher education sector, and maintain public confidence in higher education in Queensland
  • implement a range of strategies to increase the number of Queenslanders with higher education qualifications and professional skills, and the number of people from low socioeconomic backgrounds in higher education, through actions within government and with relevant industries and higher education institutions.

The higher education sector in Queensland currently comprises nine universities and 26 non-self-accrediting higher education institutions. Higher education courses are those listed under the Australian Qualifications Framework and include the following awards:

  • diploma
  • advanced diploma
  • associate degree
  • bachelor degree
  • graduate certificate
  • graduate diploma
  • masters degree
  • doctoral degree.

The department is responsible for administering the regulation of higher education in Queensland on behalf of the Minister. Universities are established under individual Acts and are self-accrediting. All other higher education institutions are regulated under the Higher Education (General Provisions) Act 2008, including overseas institutions operating in Queensland and the delivery of Australian qualifications by Queensland institutions offshore.

Table 23 demonstrates that the department's regulatory and advocacy roles continue to support growth in the sector, both for domestic and international markets.

Table 23: Activity within higher education

Higher education

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

Total number of students enrolled in Queensland universities

187 533

190 660

195 000

196 800

International students enrolled in Queensland universities

49 400

50 289

48 400

49 200

Number of applications for new courses

23

33

14

41

Number of applications for courses to be re-accredited or re-approved

41

23

12

8

Percentage of students at Queensland universities in Brisbane

60%

60%

60%

60%

Percentage of students at Queensland universities located outside of Brisbane

40%

40%

40%

40%

Source: Queensland State Budget - Service Delivery Statements, Department of Education and Training

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Higher education reform

Strategy: Lead the implementation of outcomes from national higher education and training reforms

The department has undertaken the following initiatives auspiced by the Minister in leading national reforms to higher education:

  • commissioned the Higher Education Forum to set the strategic direction for collaborative activity by the Queensland Government and universities for lifting attainment, widening participation and improving provision
  • developed a detailed suite of collaborative projects involving all Queensland public universities to raise aspirations of school students from low SES backgrounds and Indigenous heritage
  • advocated Queensland's position on a range of critical reform issues including:
    • the establishment of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency
    • guidelines for the Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program
    • revision of the Commonwealth's operational definition of socioeconomic status, which will affect Commonwealth funding to universities for low SES participation
    • an Indicator Framework for determining reward funding to universities
    • regional loading for higher education.

In 2009-10, the department:

  • provided secretarial, executive and research support to the Higher Education Forum working groups and, through the forum, established the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) working group to investigate means of improving the preparation of STEM teachers and the quality of STEM teaching in schools
  • supported the development of improved skills development pathways for a new model for Indigenous health workers, in association with Queensland Health
  • implemented amended legislation and regulatory guidelines
  • implemented an independent review of teacher education as part of A Flying Start for Queensland Children reforms
  • supported the development of a comprehensive framework of pre-service and professional training and education for nursing and midwifery, launched as an interactive web portal
  • supported the development of a web-based management and research tool to facilitate clinical placement for nursing education and training in Queensland
  • supported a comprehensive action-research project, investigating and developing new models for improved integration of VET and higher education pathways through articulation and credit transfer
  • provided more accessible information on the department's activities for enhancing the professional skills of Queensland's workforce.

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