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Australia’s university system efficient but underfunded – UA

Universities Australia    |      21 May 2015

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 The latest Universitas 21 Report ranks Australia as one of the top countries for the efficiency of its higher education system despite disturbingly low levels of public investment compared with other countries, says Universities Australia.

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universitas 21

Overall Australia’s ranking declined from 8th position in 2013 to 9th position in 2014 and now to 10th position (out of 50 countries) in 2015.

“This ranking confirms a concerning downward trend which reflects low levels of government funding compared with other countries”, said Universities Australia’s Chief Executive Belinda Robinson.

On the measure of resources invested in higher education, Australia is ranked at 18th position and 44th for government expenditure. Yet Australia’s higher education system is ranked 7th for output which measures student participation rates and research performance.

“The ranking shows we have one of the most efficient higher education systems in the world, but it should come as a warning that we cannot continue to under-fund our universities”, Ms Robinson said.

“Any fall in the international ranking of the higher education system is disappointing and underlines the necessity of having a properly resourced higher education and research system.

“It is our universities which will drive the productivity, innovation and prosperity of our economy and meet the future expectations of students and the community.

“We cannot keep cutting back on funding for university education and research with our fingers crossed that Australia’s quality university system can be maintained at the level demanded and expected by our students and our community.

“Public investment in universities is an investment in our future, not a drag on the public purse”, Ms Robinson said.

Ms Robinson’s comments were echoed by National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) national president Jeannie Rea, who congratulated university staff for doing “remarkably well despite very low levels of public investment”.

These results support the NTEU’s argument that the government’s plans to cut university funding and allow universities to charge students whatever they like for a university degree will undermine the strength of our world-class public higher education system.  The question is, will the government listen, or will it arrogantly push forward with plans that the public and the Senate have rejected?

 

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