Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson urged the Government not to close the landmark Education Investment Fund. The change requires legislation to pass the Parliament.
“Established by the Howard Government and then supported by Labor in Government, this program funds teaching, training and research facilities at universities right across the country,” she said.
“Without Commonwealth funding for new and refurbished education buildings, future students, communities and the nation will see a gradual erosion of our world-class university facilities.”
At a time of record international education exports, now worth $21.8 billion to Australia, we shouldn’t end funding for infrastructure that contributes to Australia’s reputation as a world-leading education provider.
“As MPs and Senators start the year, we understand the Budget is a key concern. It makes no sense to close down programs that generate wealth for Australia,” Ms Robinson said.
Capital investment by all universities will be very substantially curtailed if we lose EIF funding – and those with few alternative funding sources will be particularly hard hit.
“These assets deliver education and training opportunities for communities across Australia to not just survive, but thrive, in the face of huge changes to the economy.”
University leaders have pointed to key facilities that would not exist without EIF funding.
CQUniversity’s Professor Scott Bowman said EIF had been fundamental to the creation of Queensland’s first dual sector university – now the higher education and vocational training hub for central Queensland.
“The Education Investment Fund was not just about new buildings for the university; it was about providing cutting-edge facilities for the community,” Professor Bowman said.
“The fund meant we could build the $18 million Rockhampton Health Clinic. Before we had the clinic it was hard to retain local health workers here and there was a waiting list of at least three years for some treatments.”
“Now there’s no waiting list and the people we’ve trained are able to stay in Rockhampton, improving health care in the region,” he said.
“That’s why the loss of this fund would be such a great shame for regional communities. Without it, we simply won’t have the kind of cutting-edge teaching facilities we need for the future.”
Federation University’s Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Andy Smith said EIF had been essential to build its $28 million Manufacturing and Engineering Skills Centre and $45 million Science and Engineering Buildings.
These facilities were “a testimony to the success and worthiness of the Federal Government’s Education Investment Fund,” Professor Smith said.
“These buildings provide our students with world class facilities and lead to job-ready graduates.”
The funding for the Manufacturing and Engineering Skills centre in particular “has been invaluable for the promotion of skills-based training in Western Victoria.”
“We appreciate the funding and support provided for this inspirational building by the former and current Federal Governments.”
The Education Investment Fund has funded many transformative education and research projects across Australia. Find a list here.