Release type: Joint Media Release


Record funding for Australian higher education


Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations

New analysis released by the Government following the 2011 Budget demonstrates the depth of the Gillard Government’s commitment to invest in higher education.

Higher education contributes to economic development, productivity and the capacity of our country to innovate for the future.

The investments and reforms that the Gillard Labor Government is making in higher education will drive improvements in productivity and improve Australia’s future economic competitiveness.

The new analysis shows that Commonwealth expenditure on higher education – through both funding for teaching and learning and for research – is projected to increase to $13 billion in 2012. That is up $5 billion from $8 billion in 2007, and over $3 billion more than the projection to 2012 of the Coalition’s funding trend from 2001-2007.

This image depicts a graph of Commonwealth expenditure on Higher Education from 2001 to present and projected through to 2012

Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said that the Gillard Government is investing more than ever before in world-class research as part of its innovation agenda that will secure Australia’s future.

Senator Carr said that in 2011 alone $1.51 billion was allocated for block grant funding to the 41 publicly funded institutions for research and research training.

“Importantly, we are helping with the indirect costs of university research through the Sustainable Research Excellence (SRE) program.

“That funding will rise from $85 million in 2010 to an estimated $354 million in 2015 – an almost four-fold increase.

“This funding is helping to ensure that we train and develop the next generation of leading researchers to work on current and future challenges facing Australia and the world.”

This year, the Government will fund more than 480 000 undergraduate places at public universities. With an anticipated 4 per cent growth, next year this will rise to over half a million places – a 20 per cent increase since 2008.

To fund this historic expansion of opportunity, the Government provided an additional $1.2 billion in this year’s Budget, bringing the total demand-driven funding to $3.97 billion.

The 2011 Budget also confirmed that an extra $550 million will flow to universities through new indexation arrangements, increasing the total additional funding from new indexation from $2.6 billion to $3.15 billion over five years (2011-2015), putting universities on a more sustainable funding base to support quality in higher education.

“Fundamental to our Government’s reforms has been the understanding that the Australian economy will increasingly require more Australians to be degree qualified,” the Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Evans said.

“It is for reasons such as these that the Government has made a commitment to the expansion of a high quality university sector, to educate the graduates needed by an economy based on knowledge, skills and innovation.”

“Through successive Budgets, this Government has shown an unwavering commitment to enable more Australians to gain the lifetime benefits of a high quality university education,” Senator Evans said.