Universities Australia claims untrue

Universities Australia (UA) has today made a series of false claims in its attempt to persuade crossbench Senators to support the Abbott Government’s unfair changes to Australia’s world-class higher education system.


Shadow Higher Education Minister Senator Kim Carr said that the claim in UA’s open letter to Senators today that “per-student funding has decreased in real terms over a number of years” was blatantly untrue and they know it.


UA noted in its briefing to Vice-Chancellors in October that:

Under the previous [Labor] government, real per student funding increased by 12.3 per cent from 2007 ($9,003) to 2012 ($10,112)
- Universities Australia’s briefing note, Advice for University Representatives appearing at the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014, Senate Committee Inquiry

“According to UA’s own briefing note, and confirmed by figures from the Department of Education, funding for university students increased substantially under the Labor Government,” Senator Carr said.

“To claim otherwise is just plain wrong.  It is very poor judgement on UA’s part to repeat things they know to be wrong.

“UA’s paper recognises that, even with the efficiency dividend, real per-student funding would have increased by 8.3 per cent between 2007 and 2017.

“The Abbott Government may have once again listed its Higher Education bill for debate, but they have put it at the very bottom of the notice paper because they know they don’t have the votes to pass it.

“Mr Pyne also continues to spout preposterous claims like this one today:

“Such overwhelming support from higher education leaders reform is unprecedented.”
- Christopher Pyne, Media Release, 24 November 2014

“The opposite is in fact the case.

“Not a single Vice-Chancellor has offered his or her unqualified support for the Government’s plans.

“Every University has expressed concern over some or all of the elements of this package.

“The University of Newcastle warned that fee deregulation ‘has the potential to damage participation rates in higher education, potentially reversing the growth in equity group participation and success which many universities, including UON, have achieved’.

“The University of Canberra's Vice-Chancellor, Stephen Parker, called the changes unethical. These are but two of many examples.

“If UA wants to provide figures to the crossbench Senators they could start by telling them that more than two thirds of Australians oppose the Government’s changes.

“UA should be out defending universities from the Government’s proposed $5.8 billion cut to their funding.

“It should be campaigning for more public investment in universities, not blindly chasing down at any cost the power for Vice-Chancellors to write a blank cheque on student debt.

“The privatised, Americanised higher education system that Mr Pyne wants will make our country poorer across the board: intellectually bankrupt, socially divided and saddled with student debt.

“Labor will fight every step of the way to put a stop to what would be an uncontrolled experiment with disastrous consequences for students and the future of our country as an equitable nation that promotes opportunity and aspires to dream large.”


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