Pyne promises Uni's new era of freedom and autonomy

EDUCATION Minister Christopher Pyne has promised universities a "new era of freedom and autonomy", in a keynote speech to the Universities Australia conference.

Mr Pyne addressed the first day of the UA conference in Canberra on Wednesday night, outlining his plans for the sector's future.

In the speech, repeated evoking the memory of Sir Robert Menzies, Mr Pyne told the audience he was determined to reduce regulation and reporting requirements for the sector.

He said while fixing the budget was an urgent priority, "only by doing so will we ensure the sustainability of university funding".

"As you know, I have also recently received the Kemp-Norton review of the demand driven system," he said.

"The government will consider the Kemp-Norton report in the lead-up to the budget alongside the report of the Commission of Audit."

While Mr Pyne gave away few secrets of the Coalition's plans for higher education, he did say he wanted to see more "philanthropy, research partnerships and commercial ventures" explored by Australia's universities.

The conference will continue for the rest of the week.