Coalition Higher Education Policy confirms cuts to equity funding
The Coalition last night confirmed cuts to equity funding in its Higher Education Policy Statement – Plan For Real Action to Higher Education.
“The Coalition’s Plan for Real Action to Higher Education confirms, that if elected, Mr Abbott will cut the program to increase participation by students from low SES backgrounds by $227m or 70% over three years,” Paul Kniest, NTEU Policy and Research Coordinator said today.
“It is curious that the Coalition say they ‘broadly agree’ with the Gillard government’s participation targets for disadvantaged students and that there is ‘limited evidence’ the current policies will work – yet they still propose to cut funding by a massive 70%.”
“The Coalition’s refusal to re-introduce a student amenities fee will continue to undermine the quality of campus life, including the kinds of support that flow from robust and independent student advocacy.”
The Coalition’s Action Plan comments on Mission-based Compacts, calling for greater consultation with the sector. Mr Kniest said in response, “NTEU has been saying for some time that there needs to be greater consultation with the sector about how Mission Based Compacts and the introduction of the student demand driven model will interact – and on this point we agree.”
“NTEU also supports the Coalition’s policies to relax the independence test in relation to youth allowance for students living in inner regional areas and its commitment to establish a Rural Education Fund, which regional universities would access to invest in infrastructure and develop innovative ways of delivering education.”
Mr Kniest, however, expressed concern around the reintroduction of student full fee places. “The Coalition’s policy will allow universities to charge full fees for domestic students but only ‘in addition to Commonwealth subsidised places’. This is only an interim measure because these places would be obsolete after 2012 when the demand-driven model is introduced. It appears that universities will be allowed to charge full fees to domestic undergraduate students in 2011 only.”
“Given that the Coalition is highly critical of Julia Gillard’s failure to properly compensate universities following her decision to abolish these full fee paying places, is the Coalition proposing to compensate universities for any lost income from these students after 2011?”
Mr Kniest concluded, “While NTEU has concerns about how some of the pieces of the current government’s higher education policy jigsaw will fit together, these concerns will in no way be resolved if Mr Abbott is elected Prime Minister tomorrow. The announced reductions in higher education funding and a failure to rule out an increase in HECS fees means that under the Coalition, universities will get less and students will pay more for their university education.”
Paul Kniest, NTEU National Policy and Research Coordinator: 0418 170 622
Michael Evans, NTEU National Organiser: 0418 241 664