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Public agitation key to winning increased higher education funding

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 5 Jul 2012

The need for a broad-based campaign to increase public funding for higher education and ensure costs are not passed on through increased student fees and job cuts will be the key message of Greens Senator and higher education spokesperson Lee Rhiannon when she speaks at a Conference of the National Union of Students today.

Senator Rhiannon will share a panel - University Funding and Student Fees - at the NUS Education Conference with Labor Senator Doug Cameron at 11am at the University of Technology Sydney. The Coalition has declined to send a representative.

"Federal Labor has only done half the job to reverse the damage of the Howard years to higher education. A gaping hole in funding threatens the quality of tertiary education”, said Senator Rhiannon.

"Students should not rely on politicians to do the right thing for higher education.

"My key message to the NUS Conference is that the funding boost that is so urgently needed for higher education will only come about with public agitation.

"The Greens will continue to back more money for higher education but we will only achieve it with a strong voice from students, the wider university sector and the public.

"Funding per student place has plunged in real terms by 30 per cent since 2007. While Labor has increased spending on higher education the real value of base funding has not increased since 1994.

"It is students that are increasingly carrying the burden of the government’s failure to boost higher education funding.

"The gap between rising university costs and public funding keeps growing and student fees have risen to plug that gap along with cut backs in staff numbers and conditions.

"The threat of an Abbott government should be a wakeup call to Labor to increase the budget for higher education. We need to be working together to ensure higher education is managed as an investment, not as a cost.

"HECS fees are much higher now than they were when HECS was introduced. According to the Lomax-Smith Base Funding review, students pay between 19 – 84 per cent of the base funding amount in fees.

"The Greens are campaigning for an immediate 10 per cent increase in the base funding as recommended in the Bradley Review.

"Maintaining funding in real terms is not enough to catch up on the backlog of infrastructure, not enough to invest in more full-time academics to teach increasing numbers of students and not enough to ensure tutorials are not overflowing with students”, said Senator Rhiannon.

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