Vice-Chancellor's comment on the Federal Budget
Friday, 15 May 2009
In the Bradley review it was proposed to increase funding by $6.5 billion over four years. Given the present economic conditions in Australia, and indeed the world, the allocation of $5.7 billion over six years is not a bad approximation as a starting point, and most certainly moves us a step in the right direction for universities and Australia.
Of particular significance is a proposed increase in indexation of recurrent grants to universities. The failure over an extended period to match CPI increases with increased government revenue has had a seriously debilitating effect on universities throughout Australia.
The reduction and eventual removal of caps on student numbers will enable ECU to expand our provision of tertiary education to all eligible students, who have the appropriate motivation, as we have been committed to doing for many years.
It is pleasing to see that the Federal Governments focus on social inclusion and accessibility of higher education to all students been supported with additional financial support for students, and for universities. ECU strongly advocated this outcome in our submissions to the Bradley Review, and many other fora.
The increased funding to support research goes some way towards offsetting the additional costs borne by universities in supporting staff who are awarded competitive research grants from external agencies.
As a university with large programs in both teaching and nursing we are attracted to the proposed increased funding and support to be offered to both the institution and the student, including the reduction of the FEE-HELP contributions for graduates who go on to work in the field.
We await further details about the proposed Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency and a performance-based funding system.
This Federal Budget is an important step forward in the education revolution. But we must remember that revolutions are marathons, not short sprints. There is still much to be done!
Professor Kerry O. Cox