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AVCC welcomees Labor's university policy.

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Media Release Jenny MacklinMP


Acting Leader of the Opposition Shadow Minister for Employment, Education & Training Federal Member for Jagajaga

The Australian Vice Chancellors’ Committee (AVCC) has today welcomed Labor’s $2.34 billion plan to rebuild, reform and expand Australia’s universities and TAFEs, describing the policy as a “positive agenda for Australia’s universities.”

In its detailed response to Aim Higher: Learning, training and better jobs for more Australians, the AVCC identifies a number of strengths in Labor’s policy not matched in the Howard Government’s policy.

These strengths include:

Substantial public investment - The AVCC welcomes Labor’s injection of desperately needed public funding following seven years of severe funding cuts.

“Labor is proposing substantial further public investment in higher education, which could turn around the slide in Government investment as a proportion of Australia’s GDP.”

Maintaining the value of public investment - The AVCC welcomes Labor’s development of a new indexation measure to deliver $312 million of new funding to improve standards and quality.

“The new index will be of significant long-term benefit to universities.”

Huge expansion of HECS places - The AVCC says that Labor’s massive injection of new university places will go far to addressing unmet demand.

In addition to properly funding 25,000 places (presently partly funded), Labor is committed to funding a further 32,000 [full-time equivalent first-, second- and third-year] places by 2008. This represents a major commitment to access, and should go much of the way to ensure that all eligible Australians can find a suitable university place.

The AVCC’s concerns about Aim Higher centre on Labor’s opposition to the deregulation of HECS fees, which would allow for 30 per cent fee hikes.

Labor will continue to protect the public interest and oppose any increases in HECS fees.

Australia’s student fee structure is already one of the highest on the world scale. Our universities are currently the fourth most reliant on private funding out of all OECD countries. The Howard Government’s changes would push Australia up to almost the top of the world scale for over-dependence on student fees.

More info: Joanna Brent 0408 473 278 29 September 2003