The federal government has taken aim at Labor for announcing it will hold an inquiry into universities and TAFE, saying it normally criticises such reviews.
The party's education and training spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek will announce the inquiry on Friday, describing it as a once-in-a-generation and long-overdue review, as part of a push to make both post-secondary study options equally attractive.
"This will be the first time a national inquiry has put TAFE and unis on an equal footing," Ms Plibersek told AAP.
The opposition believes more can be done to capitalise on the strengths of universities and TAFE - which specialise in research and skills, respectively - and ensure they better work together.
Ms Plibersek warns TAFE and vocational education is in crisis, with the number of students attending collapsing due to funding cuts and an unhealthy competition from private providers.
Indigenous students and those from regional areas are also still under-represented at university, she said.
"The number of Australians going to university has increased because Labor uncapped uni places, but the cuts and chaos inflicted on unis by the Liberals means participation is uneven," Ms Plibersek said.
But Education Minister Simon Birmingham believes the announcement is simply a distraction because Labor won't say if it would roll back higher education changes.
"Labor criticises reviews, now wants one. They say they support the demand driven system, now they want it reviewed," he said.
"There have been so many reviews that more than a year ago I released a review of reviews to kick off a year-long consultation on reform options."
Labor will convene a panel of experts from the sector, as well as union and business representatives, to work out the scope and terms of the inquiry it wants ready to go within its first 100 days in office.
The states will also be included.
Australian Associated Press