Today’s announcement by the Government to slash university research funding to lift the cap on regional university places is reckless and short sighted.
Scott Morrison’s latest act of vandalism will further damage Australia’s world class university research.
This is taking from a research system that is already grossly underfunded, with science, research and innovation funding (in real terms) having declined by $358 million since 2013.
If Scott Morrison reversed his reckless decision to cut $2.2 billion from universities and cap places, the Liberals wouldn’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul by slashing research to pay for more student places.
No-one voted for Scott Morrison and no-one voted for him to cut billions of dollars from universities and make it harder for kids and adults from the suburbs and the bush to become the first in their family to get a degree.
Labor uncapped student places back in 2009, which by 2016 saw an extra 220,000 students get the opportunity of a university education.
Many of these students were the first in their family to attend university.
When last in government, Labor also invested hundreds of millions of dollars to boost opportunity for university study in communities where graduation rates were low.
And it was working.
Because of Labor’s policies by 2016:
- the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds was up by 55 per cent;
- Indigenous student numbers had jumped by 89 per cent;
- enrolments by students with a disability had more than doubled; and
- enrolments by students from country areas had grown by 48 per cent.
That is why a Shorten Labor Government will once again uncap student places so that more Australians from our regions and growing suburbs get the chance of a university education.
And we’ll support those facing barriers with $174 million in additional funding for equity and pathway programs in areas of Australia with low graduation rates.
Labor will always support more funding to help people in regional and remote Australia get the chance of a uni degree, but we don’t support cuts to research to achieve it.
Cuts to the research support program cuts the funding to support the delivery of world class research, and funding to support collaboration between universities, industry and other research end users.
It will result in cuts to support for the indirect costs of research, such as libraries, laboratories, consumables, information technology and the salaries of support and technical staff.
It will inevitably cost jobs.