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Wednesday, 18 June 2003
Page: 16950

Ms BURKE (5:50 PM) —I want to pose a series of questions directly to the minister. Why does Deakin University receive less funding per student than other universities on average? Deakin University receives $10,790 based on fully funded places while the average is $11,683. The ANU receives $34,571. I would like to know why there is such a discrepancy in the amount of money that Deakin University is receiving per student.

Another issue I would like to raise with the minister is overenrolments. Under the system of overenrolment, universities that enrol students above the Commonwealth quota get a quarter of the full rate of Commonwealth government funding. The Howard government has admitted that its overenrolment system, introduced in 1998, has been a disaster for universities and has said that it will convert all overenrolments to fully funded places. We want to make sure that these places are not lost to universities and that they are not lost to HECS places. There are 6,022 overenrolments this year in Victorian universities. There are 726 overenrolled places at Deakin University alone, and there are 371 overenrolled places at Monash University. I want to ensure that Deakin University and Monash University do not lose these places and that no pressure is placed on any of the campuses relating to Deakin University, in particular some of its outlying and smaller campuses such as Warrnambool.

There is another issue that I would like explored, which I will give to the minister on notice because I am sure he does not know much about it. I cannot find much out about it, so I will explore it here today. There are some rumours running at Monash University that it is in a collaborative mode with a university in Iran. The principal rumour we hear is that the federal government has struck a deal to send back 277 Iranian refugees to Iran in return for the following: a wheat deal, 5,000 working holiday visas over the next few years and a $1 million donation to the University of Kish. The university of Kish is located on the island of Kish in the Persian Gulf—a free trade zone—and is a private university run by a wealthy Iranian family. Apparently Monash has a sister relationship with Kish and the engineering faculty has an academic program relationship with it. How will the government get $1 million to Kish, and will this money come from current funding? Could this possibly be delivered via Monash University and its engineering faculty?