Help stop university funding cuts
On 13 April 2013 Australian universities were delivered a savage blow when $2.3 billion was cut from the higher education budget to help fund the Gonski schools reforms. This followed $1 billion in budget cuts last year.
As a wealthy country with a strong economic outlook Australia can afford to prioritise investment in our education system from early childhood through to university. Yet our universities are becoming increasingly underfunded and students face the risk of increased fees and charges to meet the funding shortfall.
Univeristy class sizes are getting bigger and bigger, which threatens the quality of teaching and learning. Student staff ratios have gone from 13:1 in 1990 to 20:1 today. Resources are shrinking, teacher and support staff salaries are dropping, and academic staff are facing job cuts. Australians deserve better.
The government can afford to prioritise higher education spending. Our goal should be to move Australia’s ranking from one of the bottom to one of the top OECD countries for public spending on higher education.
The Greens remain committed to an immediate 10 per cent increase to base funding per student at public universities, to maintain current standards. An immediate 10 per cent rise in federal funding per university student, as recommended by the Bradley Review of Higher Education, would help stop job losses and safeguard teaching quality. It would cost an additional $500-600 million per year.
Support the Greens campaign to increase public funding for universities.
Where the Greens stand:
Free education - The Greens believe that all Australians are entitled to free, well-funded and high quality, life-long education and training. Beyond the school years, a well funded, affordable and quality higher education sector is the key to growing Australia’s future economic prosperity.
Equity and Access - Our higher education system should be fair for all students who participate in it. Yet people from low socio-economic backgrounds remain substantially under-represented in higher education. The Greens are committed to making sure all prospective students can access affordable quality courses, and receive adequate financial support to complete their studies.
Supporting students - The Greens stand for equitable access to affordable or free education for all domestic students, supported by appropriate living allowances and minimising student debt. The Greens call on all universities to support their democratically elected student bodies.
Academic workforce - The academic workforce is over-stretched and faces increasing casualisation. Some university Vice Chancellors are cutting teaching and administrative jobs to solve budget problems, which undermines a sustainable academic workforce to teach the increasing number of students and expand our research capacity.
Lee Rhiannon is the Australian Greens spokesperson on higher education - universities and vocational education and training (VET).