Media outlets reported today the Government will use a report from Deloitte Access Economics on the Cost of Delivery in Higher Education to justify further funding cuts to universities.
But the report prepared by Deloitte for Government specifically states:
“These figures cannot be compared as direct growth or decline in costs relative to funding over the five years to 2015, given the differences in the sample, and differences in cost collection approaches.”
In any event, the report only examines the costs of teaching – and does not take account of the costs on universities to meet their other legislative obligations to conduct research, maintain buildings and support their local communities.
“As the authors themselves caution, the report cannot be used to compare costs over time,” said Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson. “It cannot be used to justify further major cuts to public investment in universities.”
“Base funding to universities needs to do more heavy lifting than ever because of a decline in other sources of funding for university infrastructure and equity programs over the past six years.”
“Universities and students have already contributed $3.9 billion to Budget repair since 2011.”
Media reports have also suggested the Government will argue universities are posting ample operating surpluses and can afford to absorb further cuts.
“Universities are not-for-profit – but they shouldn’t be for loss either,” Ms Robinson said. “Universities have regulatory requirements to maintain surpluses as a buffer against external shocks and to ensure they can maintain their facilities and assets. Published surpluses also include funds that are tied to multi-year research and building projects.”
“Remaining funds are reinvested into educating Australians for skilled jobs in our changing economy, doing research that leads to new jobs and industries, and growing Australia’s prosperity by sustaining Australia’s third largest export – international education – worth $22 billion a year.”
“It’s hard to envisage the Government unveiling severe cuts to public investment in universities which would be at odds with its innovation, jobs, skills and home-grown talent agenda.”