Announced by prime minister Scott Morrison, the new cabinet sees Dan Tehan retain the education portfolio and Michaelia Cash remain as employment and skills minister, a move welcomed by the higher and vocational education sectors.
“The coming three years presents Australia with a real opportunity”
“We see continuity as paramount in what are turbulent geopolitical times when it has never been more important to ensure policy stability in the areas of defence, trade and education,” said chief executive of the Group of Eight Vicki Thomson.
“All portfolios the Go8 contributes to by way of research, international engagement and educating the future workforce required to underpin our national economy.”
The only change in terms of education, Steve Irons was announced as assistant minister for vocational education, training and apprenticeships within the employment and skills portfolio. He replaced Karen Andrews, who retained her science and technology portfolio.
“The coming three years presents Australia with a real opportunity to restructure the tertiary education system so that there is greater integration between the higher education, vocational education, training and skills sectors,” said Troy Williams, chief executive of Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia.
“Quality is very much front and centre of ITECA’s culture and that of our members; however, it’s clear that there is a significant degree of regulatory overreach that’s doing little to support quality student outcomes.”
With ministerial positions overseeing education remaining consistent, the focus of the past eighteen months will also likely remain the same for both educators and the government in the near future.
Ongoing government directives have seen an increased focus on regional education, including boosting the number of international students outside of metropolitan areas, as well as concerns around English proficiency.
The Regional Universities Network welcomed Tehan’s reappointment, with chair Helen Bartlett saying the organisation looked forward to the future implementation of the National Regional, Rural and Remote Education Strategy.
Universities Australia, which has been combatting successive funding cuts within the university sector, meanwhile pledged to continue to work towards increasing access to higher education, and reminded Tehan of his comments that it was “the great enabler”.