“The debate must now focus on how we deliver strong and sustainable funding that enables our universities to continue the world class education and research that Australia needs,” said Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson.
“In citing fair access, quality and sustainable funding, the Minister has put his finger firmly on the key challenges confronting universities in positioning Australia for future prosperity.
“The confirmation that next year’s funding will be unchanged gives the sector optimism that the proposed 20 per cent funding cut ($1.9 billion) for university education in future years could be scrapped.
“There can be no justification for a cut of this magnitude, particularly when Australia currently sits in second last place amongst advanced economies for the level of public investment in tertiary education as a proportion of GDP.
“We really need to lift the level of investment in universities if we are to succeed in meeting the challenges that our Minister has so clearly articulated in assuring a world class university system.”
The Government’s announcement coincides with the release of the Times Higher Education World Universities Rankings and comments by rankings editor Phil Baty that Australia will need to lift higher education funding if its universities are to sustain the sector’s strong performance.
“Mr Baty is correct. Our global competitors are looking the future squarely in the eyes with major investments in higher education, research and innovation. We must do the same or we will be left behind,” Ms Robinson said.
“Universities Australia is ready to work with the Government, Opposition, minor parties and crossbenchers to shape a coherent policy package that allows our universities to deliver the innovation and skills needed to keep Australia competitive.”
Universities Australia will outline its vision for the sector in its major policy statement at the National Press Club of Australia on 7 October.