For the past three years, the Go8 has consistently stated that the current funding model for Australian Universities is “broken”.
It is for this reason that we have just as consistently supported the proposal for the deregulation of higher education fees as the only long term sustainable solution on offer. In the absence of another solution the Go8 continues to maintain that view.
However, the Senate has now twice voted down de-regulation of fees while the funding crisis remains, and can only worsen with time. A solution therefore must be found if our students, and the nation, are not to suffer from the loss of quality this will create in both teaching and research. The Go8 is concerned that a number of other proposals being floated as solutions do not tackle the core issue of long-term funding satisfactorily.
There is speculation that a further review process may be under consideration. Higher education is already one of Australia’s most reviewed sectors. Any such review would need to offer something more than those that came before it, including the comprehensive Bradley Review of 2008 and the Lomax Smith review of 2011.
The Go8 would support a de-politicised process; one that involved pre-eminent employer/business groups such as the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Minerals Council of Australia, together with the learned academies. Such a review would also consider the full scope of university funding, including research funding. High quality research is vital for our nation’s future economic prosperity and the Group of Eight universities receive almost 75 percent of all competitive grant funding for research.
Such a review should consider our nation’s willingness to invest in research in ways that enable it to be undertaken without the current level of cross-subsidisation by teaching fees. A review of this type has the potential to illustrate for the public and our politicians in a much clearer way what currently faces our sector, and why.
It is to be hoped that such a process could, finally, provide a model for the acceptable long term sustainable funding solution the sector requires without the political animosity and polarisation which have characterised recent debate.
Contact: Vicki Thomson, Group of Eight Chief Executive on 0417 808 472