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Nelson's big fudge on university places.



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Media Release Jenny MacklinMP

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Acting Leader of the Opposition

Shadow Minister for Employment, Education, Training & Science Federal Member for Jagajaga

NELSON’S BIG FUDGE ON UNIVERSITY PLACES

A Labor examination of the Budget papers has revealed a massive fiddle by the Howard Government regarding the creation of new university places.

Education Minister Brendan Nelson has claimed the Howard Government’s higher education plans would create 31,000 extra places. But in fact the number of places for new students will only reach 2116.

Deputy Labor leader Jenny Macklin said Brendan Nelson had massively inflated his figures by including almost 25,000 places that already exist and are partially funded.

These places, known as over-enrolments, were introduced by the Howard Government in 1998 to allow universities to offer places which did not attract full government funding. These places are currently funded at $2,700 per student when the actual average cost of providing them is $11,700. Universities are forced to make up the difference.

Over-enrolments allowed universities to increase their student numbers, but at the cost of a blow-out in class sizes and a mounting drain on university finances. The situation has become rapidly untenable for Australia’s cash-strapped universities.

In order to fix a problem they themselves created, the Howard Government has committed to increase funding to these places.

“It is a breathtaking act of creative accounting for Brendan Nelson to try and claim these 25,000 over-enrolments as new places, when all he is doing is fixing a mess he helped create,” Ms Macklin said.

“When you take into account 25,000 over-enrolments and allow for the normal annual growth in university places, Brendan Nelson’s 31,000 “new” places turn out to be just 2,000.

“That’s pathetic when you consider that this year more than 20,000 young people qualified to go to university couldn’t get in because there were simply not enough places.

“Instead of trying to take more money out of students and their families, the Howard Government should be increasing the number of publicly funded places.”

More information: Adrian Rollins, 0438 950 375

Breakdown of places in Backing Australia’s Future package

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

New places for commencing students

444

716

716

2116

2116

2116

2116

Over-enrolled places with standard funding

-

9100

15,925

21,044

24,883

24,883

24,883

Total

444

10,208

17,589

24,583

29,821

30,842

31,433

Source: Backing Australia’s Future, pp 15-17; Fact Sheet “CGS - Growth in University Places”.