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Changes needed to reform package – UA

Universities Australia      |     6  August 2014

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ua logoUniversities Australia comment on Christopher Pyne’s Press Club speech signalling he is open to negotiation on his university reform package.

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While the Christopher Pyne has made clear that he intends to introduce the package to the Parliament in its current form,he has  indicated that the government would be Belinda Robinson2willing to consider Senate amendments.  Accordingly,  Universities Australia (UA) says it will be meeting with senators to encourage them to consider changes in key areas.

UA  chief executive Belinda Robinson says UA agrees with the Minister that changes are required to prevent Australia being left behind in the ever-intensifying competitive global higher education environment.

An innovative, high quality, accessible and affordable higher education system not only provides life-changing opportunities for individuals but is a critical driver of national productivity and prosperity.

UA says it will be calling on senators to consider improvements to the package including in three key areas:

  • The magnitude of the proposed 20% cut in the Government contribution to tuition fees;
  • Improving the fairness of the student loans scheme and ensuring that it is affordable for both students and the taxpayer; and
  • A package to address potential market failures particularly for institutions that serve disadvantaged and regional students.

UA points out that the sector has seen a steady decline in per student funding by successive governments, despite the Bradley and Lomax-Smith reviews into the university system finding it requires more public investment.  According to Robinson:

The 20% cut translates into almost $2 billion being stripped from the sector, obliging universities to increase fees by an average of 30% just to compensate for the proposed Government cut.

For this package to take its place in the history books of policy reform, as something more than a veneer for shifting costs from the government to students, moderating the 20% is needed.

UA has also long been part of the chorus calling for change to the proposal to index student loans at the long-term bond rate capped at six per cent.

A number of excellent alternatives have recently been fed into the mix and UA will be encouraging the Senate to give these close attention.

In pointing to the disproportionate impact that the reforms are likely to have on regional communities and the universities that serve them, UA will be encouraging Senators to require the development of a package to ensure that regional communities and disadvantaged students can continue to be well-served by their local universities.

Students, their families and universities can be assured that over the coming months, Universities Australia will be doing all it can to make sure that Australia continues to enjoy an enviable higher education reputation and that a university degree will continue to be affordable and accessible.


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Students, their families and universities can be assured that over the coming months, Universities Australia will be doing all it can to make sure that Australia continues to enjoy an enviable higher education reputation and that a university degree will continue to be affordable and accessible.

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