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SCU condemns funding cuts


Sharlene King
14 April 2013
The Vice Chancellor of Southern Cross University Professor Peter Lee FTSE has described cuts to higher education funding announced by the government over the weekend as short sighted and contrary to government goals to increase participation.

“Taking away $900 million in university funding over 2014 and 2015 will impact universities everywhere. Changes such as the conversion of student start-up scholarships into a loan will hit the very students the government professes it wants to encourage to go to university," Professor Lee said.

The government set targets to increase the number of students, particularly students from regional and rural Australia and Indigenous students who attend university. It did this because Australia is trailing other comparable countries in people with university qualifications. Now it is cutting funding to the sector that is expected to deliver this increase in participation, with savings to go to schools.

"Everyone understands the difficulty of balancing their budget - at some point we have all faced that, some people in our community more than others. But investing in half your child's education by taking it from the other half is ludicrous," Professor Lee said.

"The logic of increasing funding to schools - provided the states actually agree to contribute - but then reducing the ability of universities to take the students who benefit from the investment in school funding is baffling."

Australia sits 25th out of 29 advanced economies for public investment in universities as a percentage of GDP and regional Australia lags further behind capital cities in educational attainment. About half the adults in regional communities have a degree compared with capital cities and about half the percentage of regional Australians aspire to higher education compared to people in capital cities.

Market research conducted by Universities Australia shows that about nine out of 10 parents want their children to go to university, think universities are important in providing the skills of tomorrow, and actually support more funding for universities. Instead universities across Australia have been hit with significant cuts.

Photo: Professor Peter Lee.