Treasurer Scott Morrison today outlined a plan to make clearer in the Budget papers “the share of expenditure that increases productive capacity and produces future income” for the nation.\
Universities Australia Deputy Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said this was precisely the nature of the contribution that universities make to Australia’s economy.
“Investments in universities are investments in Australia’s future productivity and economic growth,” she said.
“Universities are productive infrastructure that equips us with a highly-skilled national workforce, boosts productivity, generates new jobs and industries, and sustains a $22 billion export sector.”
“Public investment in universities squarely meets the definitions set out by the Treasurer today as ‘investment that boosts growth’ and ‘provide returns that will be enjoyed by future generations’.”
“While the Treasurer may have physical infrastructure top of mind, national infrastructure in skills and innovation is just as crucial for growth in this economic era as investments in roads, rail and ports were over the last century.”
Universities Australia has long advocated the need to view public expenditure on university education and research as investments rather than a cost to the Budget.
Modelling undertaken by Deloitte Access Economics for Universities Australia in 2015 quantified the enormous contributions of universities to Australian prosperity. It found:
- University education added an estimated $140 billion to our economy in 2014. Australia’s GDP is around 8.5 per cent higher due to the impact of university education on productivity;
- The value of the stock of knowledge generated by university research was estimated at $160 billion in 2014. This is equivalent to almost 10 per cent of our GDP and exceeds the entire value of Australia’s mining industry;
- A national productivity windfall generated by university research had delivered economic benefits to Australia worth a third of the growth in average living standards over the past 30 years; and
- 3.8 million new skilled graduates will be needed for the knowledge economy over the next decade.