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Monday, 11 August 2003
Page: 18146


Ms George asked the Minister for Education, Science and Training, upon notice, on 2 June 2003:

(1) Is he aware of the significant contribution the University of Wollongong makes to the local community through employment, access to education, private sector partnerships, research and the injection of money into the local economy; if not, why not; if so, how is this contribution different or less onerous than that of the universities listed in his media release of 13 May, Funding Boost for Regional Universities and Campuses.

(2) Will he list the University campuses that are outside capital cities indicating, (a) which of those campuses did not qualify for the regional loading, (b) in which federal electoral division each campus is located, (c) who is the sitting member, (d) which party they represent, and (e) by what two party preferred margin they hold the seat.

(3) How and why was the requirement that a university must be in a population centre less than 250,000 people determined to be a correct measure of a university's regional status to be eligible for the regional loading.

(4) Was Wollongong's population of 257,000 considered when the criteria for regional loading were set; if not, why not; if so, what impact did Wollongong's size have on setting the mark at 250,000.

(5) Is it the case that the cut off points were set in order to prevent the University of Wollongong from qualifying for funding; if not, why not.

(6) How and why did he determine the criteria that a university must be a certain distance from the closest mainland capital city and size of institution to be a correct measure of a university's regional status and how and why was the figure of 10,000 Equivalent Full-time Student Units determined to be a correct measure of a university's regional status.

(7) In respect of the University of Wollongong, is he aware that (a) Bega's population is far fewer than 250,000, it is around 465km from Sydney and has far fewer then 10,000 EFTSU; (b) Shoalhaven's population is fewer than 250,000, it is around 165km from Sydney and has far fewer then 10,000 EFTSU; (c) Batemans Bay's population is fewer than 250,000, it is around 280km from Sydney and has far fewer then 10,000 EFTSU, and (d) Moss Vale's population is fewer than 250,000, it is around 122km from Sydney and has far fewer then 10,000 EFTSU.

(8) Is it the case that eligibility for funding is on a campus-by-campus basis; if so, why have the University of Wollongong campuses been denied the regional loading.

(9) Do the University of Wollongong campuses of Bega, Shoalhaven, Batemans Bay and Moss Vale satisfy the criteria for regional loading; if not, why not; if so, will he give a commitment to have the above campuses included in the regional loading; if not, why not.

(10) Is it the case that the University of Wollongong is extremely close to each of the cut off points to be eligible for the regional loading; if so, will he grant the University of Wollongong the regional loading; if not, why not.


Dr Nelson (Minister for Education, Science and Training) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) I am aware of the important contribution that the University of Wollongong makes to its region. As argued by the Vice-Chancellors, the objectives of the regional loading programme are not directed primarily to rewarding institutions for their contribution in regional areas, but to addressing the additional costs they incur due to location, size and history and the financial disadvantages they suffer from less potential to diversify revenue sources. It is a table of `remote' loadings.

(2) (a) Regional campuses that are outside capital cities and do not currently qualify for the regional loading include the Callaghan campus of the University of Newcastle, the Wollongong campus of the University of Wollongong, the Gold Coast campus of Griffith University and the Tweed Heads campus of Southern Cross University.

(b), (c) and (d) The electorates, local members, party and the latest election result for these campuses are:

Campus

Seat

Sitting Member

Party

Election result

Callaghan

Newcastle

Sharon Grierson

Australian Labor Party

56.91%

Wollongong

Cunningham

Michael Organ

Greens

52.23%

Gold Coast

Moncrieff

Steven Ciobo

Liberal Party of Australia

65.42%

Tweed Heads

Richmond

The Hon Larry Anthony

National Party of Australia

51.68%

(3) The two criteria for eligibility for a regional campus are that it is located outside the mainland State capital city area and located in a population centre of less than 250 000. These criteria are used as a measure of the disadvantages that a university regional campus faces in terms of operational costs, for example, the costs of communication and other services, staff travel, attracting staff and students, and less potential to diversify revenue sources, for example, fee paying students and fewer opportunities for commercial partnerships. The disadvantages apply to the regional campus and not to the institution as a whole. The figure of 250 000 was considered to be a significant population centre.

(4) The cut-off for the regional loading was not set to exclude the University of Wollongong. The figure of 250 000 was considered to be a significant population centre. Similarly, the Gold Coast campus of Griffith University and the Tweed Heads campus of Southern Cross University were excluded on the basis of the population of the Gold Coast-Tweed Statistical District and the Callaghan and Ourimbah campuses of the University of Newcastle.

(5) The matter is addressed in the reply to question 4,

(6) The criteria of distance from a mainland State capital city area and the size of the institution are not used as determinants of regionality for universities. These criteria are used to allocate eligible regional campuses to the four bands for the regional loading. The criteria are used as indicators of the relative disadvantages that regional campuses face in terms of cost and opportunities, some based on location and some on the size of the institution, that is, a large institution would have greater resources to support regional campuses.

(7) The regional campuses of the University of Wollongong at Bega, Nowra, Batemans Bay and Moss Vale qualify for the regional loading. The original list of eligible campuses published by the Government was always an indicative list. The four campuses qualify under the criteria for eligibility as regional campuses. The indicator of 10 000 EFTSU refers to the student load of the institution as a whole and not the student load at the regional campus.

(8) See answer to question 7 above.

(9) See answer to question 7 above.

(10) Although the University of Wollongong is close to the cut-off point for eligibility for the regional loading at its Wollongong campus, the campus does not meet the criteria. I invited the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gerard Sutton, in collaboration with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Professor Holmes, to submit a proposal to me for consideration, relating to the two universities and their regionality.