CQU bears brunt of fund­ing freeze

Daily Mercury - - NEWS - LEIGHTON SMITH news@dai­ly­mer­cury.com.au

IN an ex­plo­sive rev­e­la­tion, re­gional univer­si­ties are pre­dicted to bear the brunt of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s fund­ing freeze, with CQUniver­sity far­ing the worst.

An ABC in­ves­ti­ga­tion cit­ing gov­ern­ment fig­ures showed re­gional univer­si­ties (down 7%) fared twice as badly as their cap­i­tal city coun­ter­parts (down 3.5%).

CQ faces the worst im­pact out of all of Aus­tralia’s univer­si­ties, with base fund­ing about 15 per cent lower, equat­ing to a loss of al­most $150m.

Dis­ap­pointed CQ Univer­sity Vice Chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Scott Bow­man (right) said the freeze was “a tax on suc­cess” that pun­ished his univer­sity for rapid growth.

This would in turn force his univer­sity to scale back on sport ac­tiv­i­ties, ca­reers ad­vice, and psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port ser­vices to stu­dents.

La­bor has slammed the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach to univer­sity fund­ing, with Deputy Op­po­si­tion Leader and Shadow Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing, Tanya Plibersek, tak­ing aim at Capri­cor­nia MP Michelle Landry and Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turnbull. “When will Michelle Landry stand up against Mal­colm Turnbull’s dev­as­tat­ing uni cuts?” Ms Plibersek asked.

“Mal­colm Turnbull says he can’t find the money to prop­erly fund univer­si­ties. But he can find $80 bil­lion to give away to big busi­ness and the banks. His pri­or­i­ties are all wrong.”

Ms Plibersek pointed out Ms Landry sup­ported cuts to ed­u­ca­tion by for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott and Mr Turnbull’ and ac­cused her of not stand­ing up for the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

“She just can’t be trusted with some­thing as im­por­tant as ed­u­ca­tion – she can’t be trusted with your fam­ily’s fu­ture,” she said.

La­bor’s can­di­date for Capri­cor­nia Rus­sell Robert­son said CQU was “a vi­tal, cur­rent and nec­es­sary part of our re­gion”.

“We are look­ing at a cut as high as 15 per cent in fund­ing to CQU, a lot higher than other other ar­eas, but where is Ms Landry and Mr Turnbull?” Mr Robert­son asked.

Ms Landry said she thought it was wrong to say that there had been a cut.

“By freez­ing one stream of fed­eral fund­ing, the Turnbull Gov­ern­ment is not re­duc­ing the fund­ing for univer­si­ties but rather man­ag­ing the rate of growth to en­sure it is sus­tain­able,” she said.

“I think it’s im­por­tant to look at the big pic­ture with this and to note that over re­cent years per-stu­dent fund­ing grew by 15 per cent yet costs for univer­si­ties to de­liver cour­ses only jumped by 9.5 per cent.

“This high­lights that univer­si­ties can find ef­fi­cien­cies within their bud­gets with­out im­pact­ing on stu­dents.”

Mr Birm­ing­ham said his gov­ern­ment was send­ing a clear mes­sage to univer­si­ties that tax­pay­ers ex­pected them to find sav­ing in ar­eas such as mar­ket­ing, ad­min­is­tra­tion, or non-core ac­tiv­i­ties that did not im­pact on stu­dents.

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