Labor welcomes today’s policy statement from Universities Australia, which endorses our position that universities need sustainable funding, and the nation needs a commitment to science and innovation to drive the jobs of the future.

Over the last two years, Labor has led the way in this debate.

We have argued against the Liberals’ unfair and unnecessary plan for $100,000 degrees.

And we have argued for the importance of universities in our innovation system and the need to invest in science, research and innovation to build the jobs of the future.

In his 2015 Budget Reply speech, Bill Shorten set an ambition for Australia to lift our investment in R&D as a proportion of GDP to 3 per cent by 2030.

Labor backed that up with the first tranche of science, technology, engineering and maths policies – committing to invest in STEM teachers, boost coding in schools and create a $500 million Smart Investment Fund to back-in great Australian ideas.

While Labor was making these positive statements, Malcolm Turnbull was sitting in a Cabinet doggedly pursuing university deregulation and proposing to slash university funding by $5 billion – measures he said he “wholeheartedly” supported.

And Malcolm Turnbull was a member of the Cabinet that sought to rip $3 billion from the science, research and innovation system.

Labor argued strenuously that the policies of the Abbott/Turnbull Government were wrong then, and they still are wrong now.

The Liberals have not walked away from their unfair and unnecessary plan for $100,000 degrees. They have simply delayed it for 12 months.

They have not walked away from their cuts to science, research and innovation – cuts to CSIRO, cuts to university research funding, and cuts to programs that were successfully driving university-industry research collaboration, like Cooperative Research Centres and Commercialisation Australia.

Labor will continue to fight the Liberals’ plan for $100,000 degrees, funding cuts and deregulation – a plan that is overwhelmingly opposed by the Australian people.

Unlike the Abbott/Turnbull Government, Labor has developed a positive plan for more graduates, not $100,000 degrees.

A Shorten Labor Government will invest in every student to ensure they graduate with the skills and knowledge they need for the jobs of the future.

We want Australian students that start university, to finish with a high quality degree, not a lifetime of debt.  

A Shorten Labor Government will:

  1. Increase the number of students completing their study by 20,000 graduates a year from 2020.

  2. Deliver more information for parents and students so they can make good decisions about university.

  3. Introduce a new Student Funding Guarantee to remove the need for higher fees and a lifetime of debt.

  4. Invest $31 million to boost the quality of teaching and resources  in our universities.

  5. Establish an independent Higher Education Productivity and Performance Commission to ensure graduates meet the needs of the future economy.

  6. Create a Startup Year at universities so students can develop their idea, get business knowhow and connect with finance.

    Only Labor is committed to investing in the skills, science, research and innovation that will create and sustain the jobs of the future.

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