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Go8 Media Release: Group of Eight funding stance supported by Productivity Commission Report – casting strong doubt on the Government’s on-going negative agenda

The Group of Eight (Go8), which represents Australia’s leading research intensive universities, has had its strong stance against the Government’s proposed funding cuts to the sector reinforced by the Productivity Commission’s bold report.

“The Productivity Commission rightly questions how we do our job, how we use our funding and our focus,” says Vicki Thomson Go8 Chief Executive. “We would expect no less. It has therefore been particularly pleasing to concentrate on the substance of the report and find that the Commission is in agreement with the Go8’s consistent advocacy push for an end to the current dysfunctional and distorted funding model for research, and to our call for an independent review of how the sector is financially structured, and on our outcomes.”

Ms Thomson said the Go8, which accounts for two-thirds of all research funding to universities and each year spends some $6 billion on research, is proud of its focus on high quality research and teaching.

“Our teaching standards are high, our retention rates are higher than the national average and we spend a far greater proportion of our Government equity funding on outreach to regional and remote schools and communities than any other university grouping. We enrol quality students and deliver quality graduates.”

Ms Thomson said the Productivity Commission’s key points spell out with clarity by how far the Government has embraced a misleading agenda, and one that could damage our future graduates and what the Go8 could offer them, and the economy.

“It states that there needs to be a reassessment of research funding arrangements for universities, or indeed our overall operation because making payments for commonwealth supported places more cost-reflective would have undesirable flow-on effects unless offset by other funding initiatives.

“It states that while performance contingent funding as proposed in the Budget was also a step in the right direction there were a range of challenges with making this approach fair and effective – something we have said consistently to Government.

“It states that reducing the initial HELP repayment threshold for students was unlikely to address many longterm structural challenges and could result in reduced labor market supply and workforce participation.

“These points simply highlight the misguided policy direction of the Government and underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive, independent review of post-secondary education as called for by the NXT Team and supported by the Group of Eight,” Ms Thomson said.

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

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