So I woke up yesterday to find out that the Education Minister had decided to strip $2.3 billion out of higher education funding. Why has the government decided to initiate the single biggest cut to the university sector since 1996? To fund Gonski.
So basically the Federal government’s response to a funding crisis in the public school system has just been to embiggen the funding crisis in the university system, by churning the money around.
The government will be making the following ‘savings’ from higher education:
– an ‘efficiency dividend’ of 2% for for 2014 and 1.25 % for 2015 ($900 million)
– the conversion of student start-up scholarships to a HECS loan ($1.2 billion)
– the removal of the 10% up-front payment HECS discount ($228.5 million)
We support the changes to the HECS discount. This has been a glaring inequality for far too long, and for little purpose other than favouring the rich.
However, the other changes are a disgrace. In particular, it smacks of hypocrisy for a government which has deregulated student places – and thus decided to place thousands more students into universities – to simply pull out the money needed to maintain student support.
Fortunately, this is one issue where the university management are our allies. And they’ve been quick to condemn the cuts.
According to the Chair of Universities Australia, Glyn Davis: “The cuts come on top of the $1billion stripped out of the system less than 6 months ago through the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook process.”
Their research shows that 87% of Australian parents support greater funding for universities. They value university just as much as primary and secondary schools. This is why the cuts just don’t make sense: education at all levels is important, the government should be funding universities and schools equally, not playing divide and rule.
Our reaction will be fierce. Next Wednesday, on April 24th, we will be having a day of action outside Fisher Library in protest commencing at 2 pm. I ask you to join us.