In its submission to a Senate inquiry into legislation that would abolish the fund, Universities Australia says keeping EIF would continue to deliver value and wealth to the nation in perpetuity.
The fund was established with a $6 billion investment to guarantee Australia’s ability to build and maintain world class tertiary education facilities regardless of the state of the national economy.
In 2007, Treasurer Peter Costello declared the Higher Education Endowment Fund, which later became the Education Investment Fund, would be:
“…a perpetual fund to generate earnings for capital works and research facilities in our institutions of higher learning” and that its earnings “… will be dedicated to building first class institutes of learning — first class by world standards — and put our Institutes of Higher Learning on a secure footing for ever.”
To abolish the fund would be a substantial breach of this vision and commitment. And it would close the last remaining source of capital funds for university building works.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the attempt to present the closure of EIF as a funding source for the National Disability Insurance Scheme was misleading.
“The attempt to tie these two issues together is a Budget sleight of hand,” she said.
“As an advanced economy, Australia has the ability to fund disability support services as well as a world class education system.”
Abolishing the Education Investment Fund would trigger “a slow and inevitable decline” of quality teaching and research facilities vital to the education of both Australian and international students.
International students bring $24 billion a year into Australia’s economy, which generates economy activity across the nation and supports Government revenue.
The building projects funded by the $3.8 billion EIF support crucial research that creates a pipeline of breakthroughs that can grow our economy, as well as educating our future workforce.