“With $3.3 billion worth of cuts to higher education made or announced over the past 12 months, universities have already done much of the heavy lifting in assisting the Government to realise its objective of bringing the budget back to surplus,” said Belinda Robinson, Chief Executive of Universities Australia.
With universities struggling to adapt to substantial funding reductions already made to the sector, Universities Australia has welcomed the Government’s commitment not to make further cuts to higher education.
“While fiscal prudence is to be encouraged and we acknowledge the scale of the budget repair task, policy makers need to be careful to preserve the international competitiveness of Australia’s university system and the contribution the sector can make to national productivity and economic growth. This will far outweigh the illusory benefit of short-term budget savings,” said Ms Robinson.
“Higher education and research is a long-term game that requires policy stability and a long-term, predictable and sustainable investment commitment.
“There is substantial scope though to remove or streamline current productivity-sapping, inefficient and unnecessary regulatory and reporting obligations and build a more cohesive, simplified and efficient policy, funding and regulatory system,” Ms Robinson said.
Amongst a suite of suggestions, the UA submission specifically recommends:
- Reviewing the utility, purpose cost-effectiveness and value of university mission-based compacts;
- Re-focusing the university regulator – Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) to concentrate on its core functions;
- Better aligning the TEQSA and Education Services for Overseas Students legislation;
- Deleting Tuition Protection Services (TPS) reporting by universities;
- Ensuring student surveys are administered by a single government agency;
- Reviewing the need for the MyUniversity website; and
- Removing the requirement for universities to report to the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission.
Universities Australia also recommends the development of a national research and innovation strategy, with a supporting infrastructure and workforce development program that builds on the National Research Infrastructure Plan.
This needs to be underpinned by a long-term university investment model to stem declining per-student funding. Importantly due to the associated economic benefit of such investment this would assist the Government realise its objective to achieve a budget surplus of 1 per cent of GDP by 2023-24.