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Uni cuts blocked

Fairfax Media | 16 July 2014

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The Abbott government’s first Budget has taken another hit after the Senate blocked $435 million in university cuts originally proposed by Labor.
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Education Budget2The vote is the first indication of how the new Senate may vote on the government’s sweeping higher education reform agenda, which includes a full deregulation of fees, a 20 per cent across-the-board course funding cut and increased interest on student debts.

A UMR Research poll, commissioned by the National Tertiary Education Union,  has identified  strong opposition to key Budget measures.  An average of 69% of people opposed increasing student fees and 65% opposed cutting public funding to universities.

Education minister Christopher Pyne has expressed confidence most of his package will pass, but, based on public statements from the crossbench senators, the government does not yet have the numbers for many key measures.

Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer told the National Press Club last week that he was opposed to fee increases and university funding cuts.

If enacted, the $435 million efficiency dividend would have led to cuts to university equity programs, research grants and training schemes.

It was part of $2.3 billion funding cuts proposed by Labor last year to help fund the Gonski school reforms. Labor now opposes the cuts on the basis the government is not funding the full six years of the Gonski package.

The government attempted to push through some of the cuts via regulation but the Senate passed a disallowance motion blocking this on 14 July.

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