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Nelson must honour assurance.

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Peter Andren MP - Independent Member for Calare

10th April 2003

Nelson must honour assurance

Federal Education Minister Dr Brendan Nelson must honour an assurance he gave to Parliament that universities in regional areas will be “significant winners” from the current reform process, according to Member for Calare Peter Andren.

“In answer to a question from my Independent colleague Tony Windsor, seeking an assurance that the research component of their work will remain an integral part of their structure, Dr Nelson said that ‘nothing will be done to undermine the role of research undertaken in regional universities’,” Mr Andren said.

“Despite these assurances I am alarmed at suggestions from academics and others in the tertiary sector that regional universities may be relegated to a second-tier as the Minister seeks to boost the major city universities onto a world’s-best league table.

“The Minister seems to think one Australian university in the world’s top 100 will somehow have spin-offs for the whole university sector.

“With the share of Commonwealth funding since 1996 dropping from 60% to 39%, I’m afraid scarce dollars will go to city universities at the expense of regional in this crazy race to compete with the Yales and Harvards of this world.

“Investment in education should be a national priority, not a commodity purchased by the well-off or sponsored by big business.

“Charles Sturt at Bathurst is a major learning centre for Education, Nursing and Media studies to name just three disciplines, and its research capacity cannot be sustained by corporate funding.

“Tony Windsor and I have supported our regional universities strongly in the face of the Nelson reform agenda.

“I only hope the Coalition members for Wagga and Albury are doing the same for their Charles Sturt Campuses.

“If Dr Nelson tries to downgrade the research role of CSU or any other regional university, I will be reminding him of his assurances to Parliament in the strongest possible terms,” Mr Andren added.

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