“Regrettably the new bill does not provide any relief on the 20 per cent cut to funding – a cut which amounts to around $2 billion to be stripped from universities,” said Chief Executive of Universities Australia, Ms Belinda Robinson.
“Without moderation, this cut will put significant upward pressure on student fees and will make it difficult to win the support of the university sector or the crossbench.
“Despite this concern, the new bill is heading in the right direction. We particularly thank and acknowledge the significant contribution made by the crossbenchers, including in securing these amendments.”
Ms Robinson said important concessions including a modest structural adjustment fund, a guarantee that fees will be lower for domestic students than for international students and substantial changes to the student loan scheme, showed the Government was listening.
“We welcome Minister Pyne’s comments that the Government will be engaging with Universities Australia over the summer about our remaining concerns with the bill,” Ms Robinson said.
“As part of these conversations we will also be reiterating our support for a larger structural adjustment package of $500 million and the establishment of an independent, expert panel to oversee the changes.
“With these amendments the Government’s package can deliver a strong and sustainable future for higher education and research.”
Ms Robinson said that now the debate on the new bill has been adjourned, all those involved can take a deep breath and return after the break with renewed focus in 2015.
“We will continue to work with all Parliamentarians to shape a new, fairer package that assures the future of a world class higher education system,” Ms Robinson said.