Priority issues for NTEU
Immediate increase of 10% in the level of funding per student.
Funding the real costs of delivering quality education across the different funding clusters.
Maintaining a real cap on HECS fees.
Level of Funding
There is an overwhelming consensus amongst universities, university staff, students and the business sector that the current level of funding available to Australian universities to educate government-supported students is totally inadequate.
The most obvious and immediate manifestation of declining levels of real funding per student has been that student/staff ratios at Australian universities have blown out from about 15 to 1 in the mid 1990s to more than 20 to 1 today.
The Bradley Review of Higher Education acknowledged this decline in real funding and recommended an immediate 10% increase in Commonwealth funding per student. The Government’s response in the May 2009 Budget was to increase funding by 5% per student, half the recommended amount.
NTEU supports the Bradley Review recommendation and believes the Government should adopt it immediately.
Funding Cluster Relativities
The differences between total funding available to universities for different disciplines is essentially based on research which was undertaken in the early 1990s.
A primary objective of this review should be to determine the real costs of delivering a high quality education for various discipline groups, which takes into account the costs associated with:
- The development and delivery of courses using modern communication and information technologies.
- The delivery of programs that require clinical, professional or artistic practice such as in the visual and performing arts.
- Maintaining the same quality of education for students attending rural or regional campuses.
- Student support services, for the increasing number of students who are not academically or socially well prepared for university.
Student Contribution Amounts
Prior to the 2010 Federal Election, NTEU surveyed all of the major political party’s higher education policy commitments.
In that survey the ALP committed to maintaining a real cap on HECS fees. NTEU is determined to make sure the Gillard Government keeps this commitment.