Chief Executive of Universities Australia, Belinda Robinson said that opting for the status quo, is neither an answer nor a solution to the need for a strong and sustainable higher education system that gives our students the best possible education.
“Our appeal to Senators as they return to Canberra is not to ignore the opportunity they have to negotiate with the Government in amending and passing a legislative package that will position Australia’s universities to compete with the world’s best,’ Ms Robinson said.
“Universities Australia is committed to continuing to work with all Senators in achieving an outcome that delivers the quality of education that students and parents expect,” said Ms Robinson.
Ms Robinson called on Senators to support the bill with amendments that would:
- reduce the proposed 20 per cent cut ($1.9 billion) to university funding to reduce upward pressure on price;
- provide for a $500 million structural adjustment package for universities operating in financially disadvantaged regions; and
- establish an independent, expert panel to oversee the changes.
Ms Robinson also pointed out the necessity for a political consensus in acknowledging the crucial importance of university research and innovation for Australia’s future prosperity.
“To cease funding Australia’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) and the Future Fellowships program cannot be justified on any grounds,” said Ms Robinson.
“These programs are the platform upon which Australia’s existing and future research capability and national prosperity is built.
“Our national infrastructure supports research that could not be undertaken otherwise. Spending $9 billion on science, research and innovation without funding the infrastructure that supports it, is inconceivable.
“The impact this would have on research conducted by industry, especially in the Government’s Industry Growth centres, should not be underestimated.
“Research programs such as the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) and the Future Fellowships program are far too important to the nation’s future to be caught in the political crossfire sparked by debate over the higher education legislation,” Ms Robinson said.