University cuts are real cuts with real consequences, says Union
An analysis of the cuts to university funding released by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) today challenges the Prime Minister’s characterisation of these cuts as being nothing more than a temporary pause to the record growth in public investment.
“University staff and students have contributed more than their share to the Government’s budgetary savings over the last three years. The most recent $2.3billion cut to funding for universities and their students comes on top of another $2billion in higher education-related budget savings announced since 2011,” Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President said today.
“The NTEU supports increased public investment in our schools, but questions the logic of cutting university funding to help pay for this. The school reforms will put more teachers and support staff in schools. Universities unfortunately respond to Government funding cuts with more staff job cuts and increased casualisation.
“The Government’s own Bradley and Base Funding reviews showed that universities are already underfunded,” explained Rea. “Our analysis shows that the gap between what universities receive and what they need to educate government-supported students, according to these reviews, is well in excess of $1billion.
“While the Prime Minister might describe the most recent announcement as ‘not a real cut but a moderation of the growth rate’ of university funding, our analysis clearly shows (Figure 3) that when adjusted for inflation and increasing student load, the real value of funding received by universities will in fact decline over the next four years.
“The reality is that these are real cuts and therefore they will have real consequences for the jobs of university staff and quality of the university experience of students.”
Rea said that in addition to the direct impact on universities, the NTEU was also very concerned about what impact the abolition of student start-up scholarships will have on the most disadvantaged students and the level of outstanding student debt.
“The NTEU estimates that student debt is already growing at a rate of $12 million a day and it is now set to balloon out. It makes a mockery of Labor’s declared commitment to social equity,” Rea said.
“In May 2010 the Prime Minister went on record saying, ‘We know that Australia’s universities have a critical part to play in making this country smarter, fairer and more prosperous. In order to meet our economic and social ambitions we need to make sure that our universities are properly resourced and able to tackle the problems, and teach the workforce, of the future.’
“The NTEU calls on the Prime Minister to honour that commitment and to restore university and student funding immediately,” Rea said.
Attached please find the NTEU’s analysis of the cuts.
Media comment: Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President: 0434 609 531 firstname.lastname@example.org
Media enquiries: Carmel Shute, NTEU Media Officer: 0412 569 356; email@example.com
The National Tertiary Education Union covers all employees of universities, including general staff such as librarians, gardeners, technical specialists and administrative staff, and academics. It is incorrect to characterise NTEU’s members as “academics” or the NTEU as “the academics union”.