Go8 Media Release: Go8 says confused Government legislation + tricky figures = need for Senate to reject higher education Budget cuts

6 Jun 2017
The Group of Eight (Go8) Board is united in its condemnation of the tricky Budget cuts that mean students pay more for less and leave universities with less capacity to assist those who most need it.

“The sector’s analysis of the figures which were represented so as to hide that this year’s budget cuts are actually the worst since the Vanstone cuts of 1996 have led the Go8 Board to lobby the Senate to block the legislation in its entirety,” says Vicki Thomson, Chief Executive of the Go8.

“The reasoning behind the strong Go8 stance is simple,” she said. “It should be obvious that when Government funding of public universities has already dropped from 90 percent in 1981 to well under 50 percent that there is very little more pain we can absorb and our students and the economy are most definitely going to suffer if the Senate does not block the legislation.

“The Go8 is committed to an economically sustainable Higher Education System for Australia, but this package, for which we were not consulted, is fatally flawed in multiple ways, and will severely harm Australia’s highly successful University system.” Importantly the Budget Bill:
  • Is not a coherent package
  • Is a contradictory set of principles
  • Represents the largest cuts to university funding since 1996
  • Leaves students paying more for less
  • Is in effect a 10 per cent cut to Government funding of teaching over the forward estimates
  • Does not deliver a sustainable system
  • Does not improve outcomes for students
  • Does not deliver positive outcomes for research
  • Jeopardises our capacity to continue to develop and grow our international export sector
“In total it’s a contradictory, incoherent mess,” she said. “Our trust now lies in the Senate having a commitment to good public policy and blocking the legislation.  We need to go back to basics, with honest data, and professional modelling of outcomes rather than back of the envelope guesswork and ‘judgement calls’ as the Governments own education department  officials have labelled the basis  for some policy decisions. Our students and the Australian community deserve more.

“We would prefer to be engaging with government to explore the ways in which continued investment in the higher education sector can bring a net financial benefit to the nation and help address fiscal concerns. This requires robust analysis and planning of the economic return to Australia achievable through training of talented individuals, education of international students at scale, research innovation and knowledge transfer.

“The evidence from across the globe is that investment in higher education generates new sectors for the economy and a return far greater than the sum outlaid. We need a new approach to assessing the value and impact of the higher education sector,” Ms Thomson said.

Contact: Ms Vicki Thomson   Group of Eight Chief Executive   on +61 417 808 472