Today’s release of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings shows that Australia’s university system is going from strength to strength.

These rankings have once again exposed the hollowness of the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s ideological pursuit of university deregulation and $100,000 degrees.

Six Australian universities are now in the top 100: Melbourne, ANU, Sydney, the University of Queensland, Monash and UNSW.

Australia has 31 institutions in the top 800 and 22 institutions in the top 400 – well over half of our public universities.

The Times Higher Education editor, Phil Baty, noted that Australia:

‘‘… is in a really good position. It’s got a very good opportunity to make the most of the Asian century.’’

But for the second year in a row, Mr Baty expressed concern that the big “unanswered question” in Australia is the future of government funding.

As European universities rise in the rankings on the back of long-term investment in research, Mr Baty highlights the fact that the Abbott/Turnbull Government has slashed research and development funding as a proportion of Commonwealth spending to 2.2 per cent – the lowest level in 30 years:

‘‘Australia will have to raise its game to ensure it can compete with the leading Western powerhouses of the US and the UK and rising stars in Asia that are heavily investing in research.’’

These comments come as no surprise with the Turnbull Liberal Government cutting more than $5 billion from Australian universities, cutting over $3 billion from science, research and innovation across its two budgets.

And today the Government has failed to end the uncertainty by merely delaying their plan for $100,000 degrees by one year.  

By contrast, Labor has a clear goal to see Australia devote 3 per cent of its GDP to research and development by the end of the next decade.

And we’ve already backed up that ambition with policies to promote science, technology, engineering and maths education; foster entrepreneurship and boost start-ups; and ensure all Australian students have the opportunity to go to university based on talent and hard work, not their bank balance.

Ranking tables are not a perfect measure, but they are important for Australia’s reputation as a global exporter of higher education services.

International education brings $17 billion a year into the economy, making the sector the third biggest export earner after iron ore and coal.

The Abbott/Turnbull Government’s reckless policies are putting at risk the reputation that draws international students and researchers to Australian universities.

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.

    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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