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Students propping up unis because of Howard government cuts.



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Media Release Jenny MacklinMP

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

STUDENTS PROPPING UP UNIS BECAUSE OF HOWARD GOVERNMENT CUTS

New figures released today reveal that students are propping up Australian universities because of Howard Government cuts.

The figures show that student fees and charges are set to over-take Commonwealth funding as the single greatest component of universities’ revenue.

According to the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) Higher Education Statistics: Finance 2002, student contributions as a proportion of universities’ income rose from 25 per cent of universities’ income in 1996 to 37 per cent of universities’ income in 2002.

At the same time, Commonwealth government funding as a proportion of university income is at its lowest since the Commonwealth assumed responsibility for higher education. Commonwealth funding represented 40 percent of university income in 2002, down from 57 per cent in 1996.

The figures show that university students are being forced to make up for the Howard Government’s $5 billion cuts to university funding.

45.2% 43.8%

48.0%

50.8%

53.8%

56.7%

40.1%

25.0%

29.6%

33.2% 36.7% 36.2% 37.2%

37.9%

20%

25%

30%

35%

40%

45%

50%

55%

60%

1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

Commonwealth Govt Fees and Charges

The DEST figures also reveal a growing divide between universities, even before the Howard Government deregulates fees:

• More than half of the operating surplus of the sector is concentrated in just four universities - the University of Queensland, Sydney University, Melbourne University and Monash University. These four universities have increased their combined surplus by $100 million since 1997, but the combined outcome of every other university has gone backwards by $200 million.

• The number of universities recording a deficit has risen from five to eight - Newcastle University, University of Western Sydney, RMIT, Central Queensland University, University of West Australia, Northern Territory University, Australian National University and Australian Maritime College. This is the second largest number of universities recording a deficit in the last decade.

• A further four universities are on the verge of a deficit, with surpluses of less than a $1m - the University of Canberra, University of Tasmania, University of Southern Queensland and Notre Dame University.

The trend in over-reliance on student fees and charges will get worse under the Howard Government’s proposals to let universities increase HECS by 30 per cent and double the number of full fee places for Australian students.

Labor will reverse the trend through its $2.34 billion plan to re-build our universities and TAFEs which will provide increased public investment for every university and no increases in student fees.

The DEST Selected Higher Education Statistics: 2002 are available at www.dest.gov.au/highered/statpubs.htm.

More info: Joanna Brent 02 6277 4045; 0408 473 278 9 September 2003