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Unveiling the Impact of the Australian Universities Accord Final Report: A Business Analyst’s Perspective

by Business Analysis,

In the field of higher education, it is important to have a good understanding of the industry’s dynamics and strategic direction to navigate complex landscapes and evolving challenges. Recently, on 25 February 2024, the Hon Jason Clare MP released a 400 page Australian Universities Accord Final Report (available here) which focuses on addressing several key challenges and opportunities within the Australian higher education sector.

These include the need to improve funding models, enhance student access, foster research, and innovation, and strengthen international education partnerships. As business analysts, it is essential to delve into the implications of this report and play a crucial role in helping organisations translate the overarching goals outlined in the report into actionable strategies and initiatives.

The report outlines three main areas of growth for universities.

Curriculum development and redesign

The report suggests the current student curriculum of universities needs to be redesigned. This is to ensure educational offerings meet the shifts in the labor market and contribute towards the growth of Australia’s economy.

To help facilitate this, a business analyst can align an institutions strategic plan to the goals and targets set by the Accord. Tracing these to curriculum management programs of work will be beneficial for universities as it as it ensures that educational offerings are directly tailored to address the identified needs and priorities outlined in the Accord. Curriculum management programs of work can include incorporating modular, stackable, and transferable qualifications.

Additionally, for each identified opportunity or necessary change, a business analyst can prioritise and justify which changes to invest first through the use of a business case as benefits, costs, risks, and value propositions for the university can be further described.

To highlight areas that require development, such as technology upgrades or skillset improvements, it is important for a business analyst to conduct a gap analysis around the university’s current curriculum development processes (As-Is) and the future processes (To-be). An analysis of curriculum frameworks can also be helpful to ensure alignment between vocational qualifications and higher education programs, enabling credit transfer and recognition of prior learning.

Successful implementation of these curriculum changes can lead to an increase in student enrolment in new programs and stronger industry partnerships. This, in turn, will contribute to a more dynamic and workforce-ready graduate pool.

Equity and access programs

The Accord report emphasizes the need for enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the higher education system. To help achieve this, business analysts can evaluate institutional policies and practices to identify areas for improvement. Based on which, they can recommend new programs or policy changes that align with the Accord’s goals. For example, promoting part-time studies or increasing support for international students can enhance accessibility and inclusivity within universities. This will lead to an equitable and accessible higher education landscape.

Improving student experience and outcomes is one of the report’s central focuses. Business analysts can leverage data analytics and performance metrics to assess student engagement, retention rates, and academic success among students, specifically students from underrepresented backgrounds. By identifying trends and patterns, business analysts can recommend interventions and enhancements into student experience, identifying causes of low engagement and retention among these groups.

These recommendations can then be translated to actionable plans that support increased student access and retention, thereby reinforcing the Accord’s core commitment to student success.

Modernizing learning and teaching approaches

The Accord highlights the need for modernizing learning and teaching to enhance student outcomes and meet the future needs of the workforce. Universities face the challenge of updating their educational approaches to incorporate digital technology and innovative teaching methods. A business analyst can help universities in identifying and implementing modern learning and teaching strategies that leverage technology to improve student engagement and educational outcomes. This involves analysing current teaching practices and technology infrastructure to identify opportunities for innovation.

In collaboration with stakeholders, a business analyst can also help universities in selecting the best fit technology to use, risks associated with implementing the changes to operations and facilitate the adoption of innovative solutions that align with the report’s recommendations. These efforts can help universities to gain flexibility in delivering cutting-edge student-centred education that is inclusive of lifelong learning opportunity.

For business analysts, the Australian Universities Accord Report is more than a policy document; it is a roadmap to understanding future workforce trends, technological advancements, and market opportunities. By aligning strategic planning with the report’s insights, business analysts can empower universities to navigate the changing landscape and build sustainable competitive advantage.

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