Public forum to debate investment in regional universities - Armidale
Public forum to debate investment in regional universities
2pm Thursday 2 August – Armidale Ex-Services Memorial Club, 137 Dumaresq Street
ABC Radio National science broadcaster Robyn Williams will present the keynote address at an open public forum on investment in regional universities next Thursday 2 August, 2pm at the Armidale Ex-Services Memorial Club.
A roundtable ‘Q&A’ style forum moderated by ABC morning show presenter Kelly Fuller follows at 4pm with:
- Professor Jim Barber, University of New England (UNE) Vice-Chancellor;
- Tony Windsor, Member for New England
- Dr Brian Denman, Senior Lecturer in Education Policy, UNE
- Anna-Maria Arabia, CEO, Science and Technology Australia
- Sarah Thompson, rural affairs chairperson, NSW Farmers’ Federation
- Liz Egan, CEO, Armidale and District Chamber of Commerce
The forum is the first in a series being held across regional Australia by the National Tertiary Education Union design to highlight the role of universities in communities, and to draw attention to the issues they are facing in the future.
NTEU National President Jeannie Rea said that universities are the life blood of regional communities, providing not only education, but employment, and are a vital community resource.
"That blood may well stop pumping if we don’t address the shortfalls left by ongoing underfunding – declining infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms, overworked staff, higher levels of casualisation, and an unsustainable dependence on international fee income to fund all aspects of their work,” Ms Rea said.
“Universities provide critical education to develop our young people and for adults seeking qualifications for new careers. They do essential practical and theoretical research and they help build lives and skills that make a valuable contribution to our communities. With one of the world’s most prosperous economies, there is no excuse not to invest more in our universities and Australia’s future.
“That’s why we’re calling on the Federal Government to increase public investment in our universities by 10% immediately, and to commit towards matching the OECD average of investment in higher education to 1% of Gross Domestic Product in the medium term.”
Ms Rea said that the NTEU was delighted the public forum had attracted bipartisan support.
“Funding for universities is too important an issue to let partisan politics stand in the way,” she said.
Tim Battin, NTEU Branch President at UNE, said that universities brought huge economic benefits to regional Australia.
“Latest figures (2009) show that the 13 universities in non-metropolitan centres generated $4 billion in total income and employed almost 21,000 full-time equivalent workers. The total economic effect is multiplied and is likely to be in the order of $6-8 billion with 30,000-40,000 jobs generated across the board,” he said.
“But, of course, the benefits go far beyond these bald figures. Regional universities are important drivers of their region’s economic and social development. The continued stress of the sector at large is most keenly felt by the regional universities. If one of Australia’s universities is to stumble – and we hope it doesn’t – it almost certainly will be a regional university.”
To book your free place, please contact Helen McLennan, NTEU UNE Branch: Helen.email@example.com phone: 02 6773 3175
More info: http://www.investinuniversities.org.au/
Jeannie Rea NTEU President 0434 609 531
Tim Battin, NTEU Branch President, University of New England 0401 599 043
Carmel Shute NTEU Media Officer: 0412 569 356