Life under the Coalition: Universities will get less, students will pay more
19 August 2010
The election of a Coalition government on 21 August will see a return to the bad old days of the Howard era for the higher education sector, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) said today.
“If Tony Abbott is elected Prime Minister on Saturday, it’s clear the Coalition will resurrect its previous short-sighted policies where universities get less public funding and students pay more,” said Paul Kniest, NTEU Policy and Research Coordinator.
So far the Coalition has said it will reintroduce full fees for domestic undergraduate students and won’t rule out increasing fees for government-supported (HECS-HELP) students.
“Now we find buried in the detail of the Coalition’s election policy costings released yesterday that the Coalition plans to cut the Labor Government’s program to increase participation by students from low SES backgrounds by a massive 70% over 2011-2013. Access to a university will once again be based on ability to pay, rather than academic merit or what’s for the overall good of the country.”
“It wouldn’t surprise us, if the Coalition is elected, if it again uses the smokescreen of budget deficits and government debt levels to cut funding to higher education even further, putting more pressure back on to universities and students.,” Mr Kniest said.
“While NTEU has been critical of some aspects of the Labor Government’s higher education policies, we remain strongly supportive of Julia Gillard’s commitment to and financial support for increasing the participation of students from low SES backgrounds.”
However, Mr Kniest said that while the ALP has substantially increased public investment in universities, it is insufficient to meet its expanded participation objectives and is declining as a share of GDP and Budget outlays.
“To date the Greens are the only party to put out a formal statement on higher education during the election campaign. This commits them to increasing public funding for universities, increasing student income support and requiring universities to develop academic workforce plans to address issues such as the ageing of the workforce and increasing levels of casualisation. ”
“With the Greens almost certain to hold the balance of power in the Senate after the election, we look forward to working co-operatively with them in the future to seek further improvements in higher education.”
For further information and comment:
Paul Kniest, NTEU National Policy and Research Coordinator: 0418 170 622
Michael Evans, NTEU National Organiser: 0418 241 664
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