Media Release: $1b MYEFO Cuts to University Funding are Short-Sighted
The more than $1billion in cuts to university funding and student income support measures announced today by Treasurer Wayne Swan as part of the 2012 Mid Year Economic and Financial Outlook (MYEFO) are difficult to justify and are short sighted and unsustainable, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) said today.
The cuts include the abolition of University Facilitation funding (saving $270m) and reductions to the Sustainable Research Excellence (SRE) ($500m) as well as savings in relation to student income support and scholarships ($250m).
“While our members will be relieved by the lifting of the pause on ARC grants, they will be disappointed by the Government’s other announced savings in relation to universities and student income support,” NTEU National President Jeannie Rea said.
“Today’s cuts are short-sighted because while a reduced investment in university and student income support measures might help the government achieve its short term fiscal objectives of a surplus budget , it ignores the longer economic and social benefits of investing in higher education.”
“The abolition of Facilitation funding does not remove measurement and achievement of performance measures associated with that funding, which means already highly over-worked and stressed staff will simply be expected to do even more without the necessary resources.”
“Staff already bear the burden of insufficient research funding through high levels of insecure forms of employment in the form of short term contracts and casual employment.”
“Today’s cuts cannot be justified especially when taken into account with other recent savings measures which have impacted on universities and their students to the tune of $1.5billion over the last two years.” (Details attached)
“Furthermore, these cuts to investment in universities fly in the face of the government’s own reviews into the sector including the Bradley and Base Funding Review, which both concluded that investment in our universities must be increased if we are to have an internationally competitive and sustainable higher education sector,” Ms Rea added.
“While the NTEU acknowledges that there are record levels of public investment in our universities, the Government must also acknowledge they are educating record numbers of domestic students and that expectations about their performance in relation to teaching, research and community service have never been higher.”
For further information and comment:
Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President, 0434 609 531
Paul Kniest, NTEU Policy & Research Officer, 0418 170 622
Universities and university students have been subject to the following Government savings measures since January 2011:
- The abolition of Capital Development Pool grants ($300m) and the Australian Learning and Teaching Council ($90) announced in January 2011 as part of Queensland Flood Recovery Package;
- Cuts to Higher Education Performance Funding ($95m as 2011 Budget) and Higher Education Reward ($241m as part 2011 MYEFO);and
- Increased costs to students by reducing the discount available to students paying their HECS fees up front ($230m as part of 2011 MYEFO) and increasing HECS fees for Maths and Science students by removing National Priority discounts ($400m as part 2012 Budget).