The proposed tax would levy universities for every student with access to a student loan and is the latest in a series of cuts inflicted on universities and their students over the past few years.
A Senate inquiry into the Higher Education Support (Charges) Bill 2018 and the Higher Education Support Amendment (Cost Recovery) Bill 2018 handed down its report today.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said there should be a serious rethink by Government and the Senate in the context of the many other cuts to universities and students.
“Slapping a tax on student numbers is deeply misguided,” she said.
“Universities are now being asked to pick up the tab for day-to-day administrative costs that are the normal responsibilities of Government.”
“This legislation also empowers the Minister to ratchet up the tax at any time and to broaden the activities it applies to — without needing to seek permission from the Parliament.”
Currently, more than 80 per cent of Australian university students access a Government student loan.
Ms Jackson noted the latest million-dollar uni cash-grab is on top of multiple cuts in recent years.
“This really is death by a thousand cuts. The Commonwealth Budget position is getting stronger by the day — and yet universities now face even more cuts.”
“If Governments stop investing properly in a sector, as happened in vocational education over the past decade, it’s very hard to build it back up.”
BUDGET SAVINGS FROM UNIVERSITIES AND THEIR STUDENTS SO FAR:
- this latest proposed tax on student numbers forcing higher education providers to pay $14 million;
- a $2.1 billion cut in the university funding freeze with 10,000 unfunded student places in 2018;
- a cut of $135 million (at least) from the university research support program to provide funds for five regional universities;
- a plan to tax universities to cover running costs for the higher education regulator TEQSA;
- the Skilling Australians Fund levy of $15 million per year on universities when they recruit global researchers and experts to bring their talents to Australia; and
- the proposed abolition of the Education Investment Fund worth $3.8 billion – closing down the last remaining source of capital works funds for higher education and research.
On top of these cuts, the net effect of 89 previous Budget measures between 2011 and 2017 amounted to Budget savings worth $3.9 billion.