The Australian Greens have called on the Gillard government to reposition Australia so it is ahead of the OECD average for public investment in higher education, to redress the current situation where Australia’s expenditure was 0.7 per cent of GDP in 2008, falling well short of the 1.0 per cent OECD average and lower than 25 out of 30 countries which spent more than Australia.
The major parties voted against Senator Lee Rhiannon’s higher education funding motion (below) in the Senate today.
“It’s time we lost our dunce hat when it comes to higher education funding, for the sake of our economic and social well-being,” Australian Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said.
“Generous investment in higher education is the clever pill we need to secure Australia’s place in the global economy.
“Over decades Australia’s investment in public universities has free-falled, compromising staff/student ratios, increasing staff workloads and risking quality teaching.
“Demand for higher education graduates is expected to be stronger than overall employment growth over the next decade, but the government is failing to rise to the challenge of properly funding the sector.
“Two recent reviews of higher education funding calling for significant increases have been ignored.
“The Greens are backing the Bradley review’s recommendation for a 10 per cent increase to the level of funding per government-supported university student to maintain current standards in the short term.
“This would cost an estimated extra $500-600 million per year, depending on student numbers.
“The government ultimately needs to position the nation ahead of the OECD average.
“Australia needs a steadily increasing investment from the current 0.7 per cent of GDP to beyond the OECD average of 1 per cent of GDP, to take Australia’s ranking from the bottom to the top of the OECD countries,” Senator Rhiannon said.