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Tuesday, 2 December 2003
Page: 23424

Ms MACKLIN (2:31 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Education, Science and Training. I refer to a statement by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney concerning the member for Lindsay's failure to protect her university from the Howard government's $25 million funding cut. It says:

What you can say about Jackie's interventions is they clearly haven't helped her university and may indeed have influenced the Government's views.

Does the minister agree with the member for Lindsay that the University of Western Sydney are `dreaming if they think they are going to get any more funding'?

Dr NELSON (Minister for Education, Science and Training) —I think the people of Lindsay have made the very sound judgment on at least three, if not four, occasions that they are very well represented by the member for Lindsay. The first thing that I should do is to point out to the House some facts in relation to the University of Western Sydney. Firstly, this government is determined to see that Australian higher education institutions are on a sound footing. The government is proposing to invest another $2.4 billion of hard-earned taxpayers' money—extra money—into universities over the next five years and to change the way in which those universities are funded and regulated.

The University of Western Sydney will not lose a single dollar over the next three years and beyond; in fact, it will be receiving additional funding. The fact is that universities the length and breadth of Australia argued that we should fund them on the basis of what they actually deliver. It is described as a discipline mix—the Commonwealth Grants Scheme. That process has revealed that over the last 10 to 12 years the University of Western Sydney has moved away from high-cost courses in agriculture and science to lower cost courses. In order to ensure this, as we move to funding universities for precisely what they provide—and the member for Jagajaga refuses to tell anybody this—this government have put aside a $39 million transition fund which will fully compensate the University of Western Sydney over the three years of the transition. It will receive $5.4 million in 2005 and $1.98 million in 2006, and that assumes that the University of Western Sydney does not change a single HECS charge and does not create a single opportunity for an Australian citizen to be a full fee paying student—unlike the 5,000 foreigners it has got there. It also assumes that it does not access $138 million for the Learning and Teaching Performance Fund and that it does not access a single dollar of the $55 million available for a workplace performance pool. It also ignores the fact that it will be receiving almost twice as much for its overenrolled students. I say to the member for Jagajaga: if she is concerned about the member for Lindsay, I think she might ask her leader, the Leader of the Opposition, what his attitude is to the deregulation of universities—a subject to which I will return.