The Turnbull Government has foreshadowed a grim financial future for Australian universities.
At Senate Estimates this afternoon the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham, revealed that Australia’s universities will be left on their own to fund infrastructure, including for research.
Not only will the Government persist in trying to abolish the $3.7 billion Education Investment Fund, there will be no replacement.
Australian universities will now be faced with a choice of poisonous alternatives:
- Risk borrowing to fund new infrastructure,
- Continue to raid funding meant for other purposes, or
- Seek parliamentary approval to increase the fees of undergraduate students - $100,000 degrees.
Whatever the choice, this is a government which will leave universities on their own to face rising costs, as it continues its policy of cutting base university funding by 20 percent.
In no other country in the world does a national government that funds a university system fail to fund major infrastructure.
“The question needs to be asked why government no longer believes it has any role to play in this form of nation building”.
– Bradley Review
It appears Australia is set to be out on its own.
And the Minister made it clear that universities should expect further funding cuts.
Higher Education Infrastructure Working Group Final Report 2015, Bradley et al, p. ix.