Christopher Pyne has outlined a radical Coalition plan for higher education which would see hundreds of millions of dollars stripped from regional and outer metropolitan universities to benefit a handful of capital city institutions.
His call to concentrate Australian Government funding in the hands of metropolitan universities at the expense of other Australian universities would be a devastating blow to regional universities, Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Tertiary Education said.
Christopher Pyne has previously pointedly refused to deny that the Coalition would make major cuts to higher education to dig the Coalition out of its $70 billion budget black hole.
“It remains Coalition policy to strip hundreds of millions of dollars of funding to assist more disadvantaged Australians to succeed at university. And the Coalition shamefully proposed to raid the Education Investment Fund at the last election to pay for its other priorities,” Senator Evans said.
“To strip regional universities of funding would emasculate and downgrade many of Australia’s most vibrant institutions.
“You do not improve the higher education system by ripping funding from the many to give to the few.”
The Liberal Party is also proposing to adopt a privately-run system of international rankings run by The Times Higher Education magazine as the benchmark to drive Coalition higher education policy, apparently oblivious to the criticisms that are regularly made of ranking systems such as this one.
Yet according to the Coalition’s preferred ranking system, Australia was rated this year as having the sixth best university system in the world – an outstanding achievement which is a credit to the people who work in our nation’s thirty-nine universities.
The contrast today between Labor and the Coalition on higher education is clear.
While the Coalition would strip funding from Australia’s regional and outer metropolitan universities, the Gillard Government has today announced a further investment of $377 million in new state-of-the-art teaching and learning facilities at university campuses across the nation, as part of an $873 million upgrade for higher education institutions across Australia.
The investment is part of the Government’s commitment to higher quality tertiary education and opening the doors of Australia’s universities to all students, no matter where they live.