The Government will be cutting $2.3 billion of funding from universities over the next two years.
These cuts supposedly allow for greater spending on school education recommended by the Gonski Report without impacting net government spending.
The Minister for Tertiary Education Craig Emmerson announced the cuts on Saturday 13th April but would not detail how the extra funds would be allocated.
This 2.3 billion dollar funding reduction comes after the government’s announcement capping tax deductions for students at 2000 dollars that is estimated to safe the government 520 million dollars.
1.2 billion dollars of the cuts will come from requiring Students who are on Centrelink and receive the Student Start-Up loan to repay this with their HECs when they begin working, abolishing the 10% discount students receive for paying their fees upfront will raise a further 230 million, and a 2% efficiency tax in 2014 and 1.25% in 2015 coming to 900 million. This leaves 1 billion dollars of cuts unaccounted for.
Universities Australia, last month, called for greater funding for universities, highlighting that funding for Australian universities is much less than for their counterparts in other developed countries around the world.
International educational education is Australia’s 4th largest export and largest service export. Already universities spend approximately 280 million dollars to comply with government regulation.
Professor Glyn Davis, Chair of Universities Australia stated that “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.” Before this measure Australia’s funding of universities already ranked 25th out of the 29 developed nations as a percentage of GDP.
Australian universities are one of our largest industries, they are huge employers, exporters and are currently comparatively under funded and over regulated. The Coalition recognized this last month when they announced that there would be no substantial changes to federal university policy.
As the ANU’s New Pro-Vice Chancellor for Student Experience Professor Richard Baker stated “The leader of the opposition spoke to the Universities of Australia convergence last month in Canberra. He made it pretty clear that there wasn’t going to be much more money”.
Hopefully this announcement from the Government does not lead to a free for all cutting universities funding.