Universities Australia Media Centre | 13 April 2013
Universities have been hit with the biggest reductions in funding to the university system and student support since 1996 with an additional $2.3 billion to be stripped from the university system over the next four years, including almost $1 billion from university revenue with the remainder of the burden falling on students.
According to the Chair of Universities Australia, Glyn Davis:
The cuts come on top of the $1 billion stripped out of the system less than 6 months ago through the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook process. We acknowledge the Government is confronting difficult economic circumstances but we are concerned at the long-term impact these cuts will have on university research and education.
“Universities Australia appreciates the consultative manner with which the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Craig Emerson, has approached the pre-budget negotiations, and his recognition of the importance of retaining the indexation formula.
“The application of this efficiency dividend, while limited to 2 years, will none-the-less place severe strain on a sector that has been encouraged to expand enrolments to enable greater access to higher education.
“The magnitude of the cuts made to the sector over the past 6 months will challenge the ability of universities to continue to meet the high standards of educational quality expected of them. These cuts also come at a time when Australia already sits a disturbingly 25th out of 29 advanced economies for public investment in universities – as a percentage of GDP.
“For students the loss of a range of income support measures will be compounded by the inevitable withdrawal of existing academic and professional support services provided by universities.
“This comes at a time when global competition has never been more fierce, when our competitors are investing heavily in higher education because they recognise that funding higher education and research is a long term investment in their country’s future well-being.
“Our market research shows that 88 per cent of parents want their children to go to university, 93 per cent consider universities as important in providing the skills and knowledge for tomorrow, and 87 per cent support an increase in funding for universities.
“Today’s announcement will be condemned by those who understand that Australia’s university sector is crucial to national productivity growth, industrial diversification and long-term economic transformation.”
Savings announced to be made from higher education include:
• Efficiency dividend of 2 per cent for 2014 and 1.25 per cent for 2015 ($900 m)
• Conversion of student start-up scholarship to HECS loan ($1.2 b)
• Removal of 10 per cent up-front payment HECS discount ($228.5 m)
“To ease the impost, we call on the Government to implement, as a matter of priority, a Productivity Commission review into the regulatory and reporting burden on the Australian university sector – estimated to cost universities $280 million a year. We also call for the immediate implementation of the recommendations of the recent report to government by the KPAPhillips on university reporting,” Professor Davis said.