The Australian 29 August 2012
The Coalition says it has no plans to reimpose a cap on university places or to increase tuition fees despite media reports to the contrary, with opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne saying “while we welcome debate over the quality and standards in our universities, we have no plans to increase fees or cap places,”.
In his statement, Pyne drew attention to one point of difference with the government:
Only the Coalition supports bringing back full-fee-paying places for Australian domestic students, which are at present restricted to overseas students. This measure alone would give universities greater freedom to grow.
Greg Craven, the Australian Catholic University’s vice-chancellor, said Mr Pyne’s statement denying any plan for caps or higher fees was “consistent with every conversation I’ve had with Coalition figures”.
UA chairman Glyn Davis, welcomed bipartisan support for the expanded university system following Pyne’s denials. But placed on the table the adequacy of current funding:
Still unresolved is the question of adequate support for individual programs. The Lomax-Smith review (of base funding) pointed to a range of important degrees that are underfunded, and provided a compelling case for an increase in support for these disciplines.
Andrew Norton, higher education commentator with the Grattan Institute, questioned Pyne’s promotion of full-fee places for local students, saying this option made more sense in a system with capped university places.