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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 173

Senator Abetz asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 13 November 2008:

(1)   What analysis has the department done as to the total loss of revenue to be received by Australia’s universities as a result of the decrease in anticipated revenue from: (a) investments; and (b) overseas student numbers.

(2)   Can an assessment in relation to (1) above of each of Australia’s universities be provided; if so, can the detail for each university be set out.

(3)   With reference to an article on page 3 of The Australian of 1 October 2008, where it was reported that the Monash University was introducing a remedial writing course focused on ‘language mechanics’, such as basic grammar and punctuation: what is the anticipated cost to all of Australia’s universities because of the ‘dire state of English proficiency among first year students’.

(4)   Is the department or the Government making any representations to state educational bodies to redress this deficiency.

Senator Carr (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) —The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   For (a) & (b) - the Department has not undertaken such analysis.

(2)   Not applicable.

(3)   The implementation of programs such as Monash University’s remedial writing course is an internal operational decision for universities and the Australian Government has no information on the costs involved.

(4)   For the first time in 2008, students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 across Australia were tested in grammar and punctuation. It is expected that the reporting of student achievement in grammar and punctuation will encourage state and territory education authorities to pursue improvement in this important area of literacy. The 2008/09 Budget announced funding of $577.4 million over four years to deliver a National Action Plan for Literacy and Numeracy to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes. The centrepiece of this funding is a National Partnership Agreement on Literacy and Numeracy which will provide states and territories with access to $500 million to advance the teaching of literacy and numeracy using evidence-based approaches. Under the Plan, the Australian Government will also invest $30 million to trial 29 innovative and evidence-based approaches to teaching literacy and numeracy and invest $40 million in strategic projects that support literacy and numeracy reform. In addition, the interim National Curriculum Board has been charged with developing a single, world-class national curriculum for all Australian students from kindergarten to Year 12, starting with the key learning areas of English, mathematics, the sciences and history. The development of a continuum of learning in literacy and numeracy skills, ranging from basic competence in the early years through to the advancement and extension of these skills in the middle and later years of schooling, will be a foundation of the national curriculum.