First of all the collapse of the wavefunction is not certain to be a
fundamental aspect of reality. There are interpretations of quantum
mechanics where it is an artifact of other root causes.
For instance in the many worlds interpretation observing a particle would
split *you* in many versions, each one observing the particle in each
different location, each wondering what caused this collapse.
In the Bohm pilot wave interpretation each particle is guided by its pilot
wave. The wave causes wave-like phenomena, the particle particle-like
phenomena (I am simplifying here, but that is the relevant feature of the
interpretation for your question). There is no wave collapse. There is
also only one universe.
Now assuming there is a collapse of the wavefunction, even then it can be
dissasociated from consciousness. The Winger friend thought experiment shows
this (essentially Winger's friend observes Schrodinger's cat, Winger
observes it and his friend later). Did the friend collapse the state of the
cat, or did he enter a superposition of states, to be collapsed by Winger
later? There is no reason to prefer one to the other.
Nevertheless, the connection of consciousness to the wavefunction collapse
appears appealing to many scientists. And if there is no physical reason to
conclude it, there is no reason to exclude it either. It just makes a bad
argument in physics since it brings in an extra factor (and a big one too!)
that is not needed to explain observed behavior. It may be a compellling
philosophical argument (depending on your approach), but Occam's razor seems
to preclude it as a required explanation in physical theories because it
is not necessary, and the effect may even be an artifact of other features.
Two quick wikipedia links:
for a short discusion of your question, and
for the Winger's friend thought experiment.