24 November, 2011Universities Australia congratulates the Parliament on passing the Higher Education Support Amendment Bill (No.2).
The bill implements a number of important 2011-12 Budget commitments, resulting in an annual average increase of $300 million over a projected four years to support demand-driven funding, and increases the maximum amount payable for Government grants (`Other Grants') and Commonwealth Scholarships, while also increasing the maximum payments for the Commonwealth Grant Scheme, in each case now allowing for appropriate indexation.
Universities Australia CEO, Dr Glenn Withers said, "This bill is the second in a suite of reforms to allow student demand-driven funding of higher education and is further recognition of the crucial role universities play in empowering our nation.
"Universities are particularly pleased that sensible indexation has been implemented in this way by Government and Parliament. This bill follows last year's passage of the Higher Education Support Amendment (Indexation) Bill 2010, which incorporated an appropriate indexation formula into base funding - something the sector had been seeking for many years. Such provisions help ensure that Australian universities will no longer risk slipping backwards because of the falling purchasing power of government support. From 1995 to 2010 real funding per undergraduate domestic student actually fell by 9.6%. This meant that a real funding fall of $1641 per student took place because of inadequate indexation, an amount almost exactly made up for by international student net revenue which is now experiencing much reduced growth.
"As Universities Australia has recently emphasised, universities operate with quite modest but responsible margins. These were increasingly at risk without proper indexation of government funding. The full implementation of these indexation provisions allows responsible budget management to continue while universities await the further outcomes of the Lomax Smith Base Funding Review and the Government's response.
"It is hoped the Lomax Smith Review will provide further positive support for investing through higher education for Australia's future - an investment that pays back into the public budget handsomely, as well as assisting the economy and society. Responsible public budget management should not neglect such investment.
"The passage of the Higher Education Support Amendment Bill (No.2) is to be applauded," Dr Withers concluded.