“It’s great to see the dots being joined between national prosperity and investing in higher education,” said Belinda Robinson, Chief Executive of Universities Australia.
“We agree with the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten that now is not the time to be putting the brakes on investment when every other country in our region is accelerating.”
“China is set to become the greatest investor in research and development in the world and is building the equivalent of almost one university per week.”
“Just last month the Asian Universities Alliance was launched. It brings together 15 leading universities in the region with the aim of strengthening research and education collaboration.”
“This is a formidable university block that Australian institutions will need to compete with for both domestic and international students, as well research capability,” Ms Robinson said.
“The inconvenient truth is that non-profit, public good enterprises do not achieve their missions through degradation and deficit.”
“Proposed cuts worth $2.8 billion, coming on top of the $3.9 billion hit on universities and students over the past six years, and punishing a sector for its success, is neither ‘fair’ nor the means for achieving long-term national prosperity,” Ms Robinson said.
“On the contrary, and as has been reprised over the past few days by Vice-Chancellors from a diverse range of universities, astute investment in higher education and knowledge infrastructure pays for itself many times over.”
According to the former Australian Workforce Productivity Agency, every extra public dollar invested in tertiary education will, on average, grow the economy by $26 by 2025. Conversely, every dollar stripped out of the system will have a negative impact.
“As stated by the Opposition Leader, being an innovation-backed nation means being an education nation; a nation that not only celebrates creativity, skills and education but has the policy settings in place to achieve it.”
“These policy settings must also ensure that equity and access are properly supported.”
This is why universities strongly support the elements of the Government’s package that assist those from disadvantaged backgrounds, expand student work placements, and widen student access to associate degrees.
“With both major parties having now made important statements on higher education, it is now firmly back on the public and political agenda.”
“Universities Australia will continue to work with all Parliamentarians to ensure that fairness, opportunity and long-term national interest are the driving forces of sound higher education policy and investment,” Ms Robinson said.