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Government maintains higher education opportunities and funding in the Budget.\n

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Media Release


The Howard Government will provide $4.9 billion for higher education funding in the 2002-2003 Budget, an increase of 5.8% compared with the previous year. With the inclusion of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS), this brings the total contribution for 2002-03 to $6.2 billion.

While the sector remains strong, it faces a number of challenges which will be part of the extensive consultative process over the coming year to take stock of where we are, where we want to go and how we want to get there in higher education.

Higher education is currently enjoying a significant injection of funds delivered by the Government through Backing Australia’s Ability initiatives and other measures such as the 2001-02 Budget to provide additional places to regional universities.

By 2004, as a result of these initiatives, annual Commonwealth funding to universities through the Education, Science and Training portfolio, including HECS, will be $480 million higher than in 2001. Along with funding of around $6.3 billion (in non cost-adjusted terms) there will be at least 8,300 more fully funded undergraduate places in 2004 than in 2001.

By adapting well to the challenging environment in which they are now operating, our universities are in a sound position. Their positive response to the greater flexibility and opportunity available under the policies of this Government is illustrated by:

increasing participation - in 2001 there were 478,000 equivalent full-time student domestic places in Australian universities, an increase of 55,000 since 1995; and


The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP - Media Centre (1 of 2) [15/05/2002 1:03:18]

continuing high levels of graduate satisfaction - satisfaction among bachelor degree graduates, as shown by the broad satisfaction measure, remains very high at 90%.


University revenue also continues to grow - total university revenues from all sources will reach a record estimated $10.4 billion in 2002. This increase of almost $2 billion on 1995 (in cost adjusted terms) maintains the record high revenue levels of recent years.

Higher education institutions have been successful in attracting and diversifying revenue. In the process they have met more of the genuine needs and aspirations of individuals, communities and the nation. This reflects well on the responsiveness and capacity of the sector.

However, significant issues remain to be addressed. The review of higher education which I have recently announced presents a unique opportunity to consider the challenges facing universities today.  

In particular, the Government is inviting public discussion on a number of issues, including learning experiences and outcomes, institutional specialisation, regional engagement, governance and workplace relations, efficiency management and financing arrangements. These issues will be considered and discussed over the coming months.

I hope to conclude the review process towards the end of the year with a final forum to consider the issues raised during the course of the review.

This Budget provides a solid foundation from which the Australian higher eduction sector can evolve and grow into a system that meets the changing needs of students and the community and places it amongst the worlds’ best.

The kind of Australia in which the next generation will live depends to a large extent on Australia’s universities.

For further information:

Dr Nelson’s Office: Ross Hampton 0419 484 095

DEST: Mark Giffard 0412 420 987


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The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP - Media Centre (2 of 2) [15/05/2002 1:03:18]