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"Reset button" should be pressed on Go8 for failure to back increased uni funding

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 1 Apr 2015

Responding to the decision of the Group of Eight to end their support for the Abbott government university deregulation plan Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said:

"Having pulled the plug on the Pyne higher education plan the Go8 should now throw their weight behind securing funding for our public universities.

"The Go8 call for the ‘reset button' to be pressed on higher education should apply to these elite universities themselves as their actions have done such a disservice to staff, students and other universities.

"They need to accept much of the responsibility for the policy confusion on higher education that have put students and prospective students and their families under so much pressure.

"It was their solid support that allowed Minister Christopher Pyne to push ahead with his destructive plan for nearly 12 months.

"The issue always was the massive underfunding of our universities by successive Coalition and Labor governments.

"While the average OECD government invests 1.1 per cent of GDP in higher education, public funding in Australia is only 0.7 per cent. In 2011 this meant an annual shortfall of $3,965 per student at our public universities compared with the OECD average.

"If the Go8 are serious about resetting the debate they should focus the conversation on how to secure revenue for our universities that does not put the cost burden on students and their families.

"Increasing public funding to the OECD average would cost the government just over $2.3 billion in the 2014-15 financial year. This is a worthwhile investment for our nation.

"The Greens policy supports a phased in approach to free higher education. Germany, Denmark, a number of Scandinavian countries, Brazil and Chile have free higher education." Senator Rhiannon said.

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