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Govt tries dampen university opposition to cuts with deregulation promise

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 29 May 2013

Cutting university 'red tape' should not be code for turning out the light on proper scrutiny of sandstone universities to ensure quality education for students, says Australian Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon in responding to Minister Emerson's announcement of a review of regulatory compliance and reporting.

"The danger is this review will pursue deregulation at the expense of accountability," Senator Rhiannon said.

"This inquiry is only justified if Tertiary Education Minister Craig Emerson guarantees that quality teaching and learning reporting requirements will be maintained and that only real instances of duplicated data collection and reporting will be scrapped.

"Without such a guarantee Labor could well use this inquiry to start the move to dismantling the regulation of universities.

"Any move to deregulation will facilitate the Coalition's privatisation agenda for tertiary education.

"Having established the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency in January 2012 to closely monitor higher education outcomes, the government must not now do any major u-turns.

"The public could be excused for thinking this deregulation inquiry is designed to appease universities which have been vocal in opposing recent $2.3 billion budget cuts in the lead up to the election.

"Having ripped money from tertiary education to pay for Gonski the government is now promising high performing universities exemptions from proper oversight.

"Some of the new standards required by TEQSA cover financial sustainability, corporate and academic governance and quality.

"Minister Emerson should declare his hand and tell the public which of these the government is willing to sacrifice.

"A string of recent reviews have recommended increased funding. This is what Minister Emerson should be fighting for, not deregulation. 

"It is impossible to measure quality and whether government objectives to increase access to universities are being met if you leave universities to run their own show. 

"The fact the one of the members of the review panel has previously recommended a voucher system for universities as a member of the Howard government's West Review suggests where this inquiry is heading.

"The Greens will continue to stand up for students and staff at universities and advocate for proper funding, quality courses and fair conditions for staff," Senator Rhiannon said.



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