Australia's Tertiary Education Minister Craig Emerson on Wednesday announced an independent review of regulatory compliance and reporting before the September 14 election in response to universities' concern.
In April universities estimated they spend 280 million AU dollars (292 million U.S. dollars) a year complying with federal and state government regulation and reporting requirements.
Most institutions had between 15 and 20 staff whose sole job was to meet the regulatory requirements of 100 separate state and federal laws.
The review to be conducted by Professor Kwong Lee Dow, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, and Professor Valerie Braithwaite of the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University. They are expected to report back before the government moves into caretaker period in August.
They will also explore the merits of an "earned autonomy" model whereby a light-handed approach to regulation would be applied to high-performing universities with strong and long track-records of compliance.
An earlier report commissioned by the Tertiary Education Department recommended the government establish a single body to collect higher education data across the country so universities only had to report to one place instead of duplicating data reports for different agencies.
Universities Australia, the peak body representing Australia's 39 universities, welcome the minister's decision, saying the government needs to liberate universities from the burden of unnecessary, inefficient and wasteful regulation and reporting.
"Universities support the need for a properly resourced and robust regulatory framework and it is entirely appropriate for universities to be accountable to the community and for the public and the international education market to be confident that Australian universities are being held to the highest standards," Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said