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Thursday, 11 October 1984
Page: 1618

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE(10.12) —I want to raise one matter which has been referred to me by the Victoria College. It concerns a letter sent to the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs (Senator Ryan) on 4 October 1984 . Can the Minister say whether any response has been given to the college? Could she, either now or later, give me some information relating to the Victoria College's financial difficulties outlined in that letter? In its letter of 4 October, the College informs the Minister that its financial difficulties are not being resolved. The college has a funding problem which has been indicated to it by the Victorian Post-Secondary Education Commission in respect of the forthcoming year. The college states in the letter:

Although State and Commonwealth authorities have acknowledged the College's unsatisfactory financial treatment during 1982-84, it is now recommended that an increase of 2.3 per cent in student load will be accompanied by an increase of only 0.7 per cent in recurrent funds. This reduces the College's already insufficient per capita funding.

The letter continues:

By contrast with the prediction that new opportunities would be created for young people to obtain lecturing positions in higher education, the financial situation created for Victoria College raises the necessity for further staffing reductions.

The college comments in the letter that the Commonwealth proposes to reduce the funds recommended for the college by the State by $800,000. The advice to the college from the Victorian Post-Secondary Education Commission on this matter was sent to the Minister with the letter of 4 October. The college points out that the overstaffing problem already explained to the Minister will not have been eliminated until 1990, and that this currently causes an excess salary expenditure of $500,000, declining steadily to the end of the decade. The college stresses to the Minister that special assistance is needed to cover this handicap. In view of the increased numbers of students at the college and the reduction of funds provided to the college, the college points to the extreme difficulty it will experience in the next few years. I wonder whether the Minister is in a position to advise whether any information or response has been given to the Victoria College, or whether I could be provided later with the Government's response to the request made to the Minister.