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Democrats refer Higher Education to Senate Inquiry.

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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Deputy Parliamentary Leader and Senator for South Australia

Press Release Dated: 11 Oct 2000

Press Release Number: 00/637 Portfolio: Education Related: Higher Education

Democrats refer Higher Education to Senate Inquiry The Australian Democrats today initiated a comprehensive Senate Inquiry into the state of the nation’s public higher education system, said their Higher Education Spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.

“This will be the first comprehensive Parliamentary Inquiry into Higher Education since the Coalition came to power in 1996”, said Senator Stott Despoja.

“With funding for Australia’s public universities at their lowest levels in thirty years, at the very time Australia is assessing its ability to participate in the new global knowledge economy, this Inquiry is more necessary than ever.

“The Inquiry will examine the effects of funding cuts and marketisation of higher education under the Coalition Government on public universities’ ability to be globally competitive, provide diversity and quality of education, ensure access for traditionally disadvantaged groups, retain staff and contribute to economic growth.

“The Inquiry will be conducted by the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations, Small Business and Education References Committee, and is due to report by August 2001.

“The public Higher Education sector must not become the poor cousin of research and education funding. This Inquiry is an opportunity to assess the scope of the damage and develop strategies to reverse the decline in quality, diversity and access.

“I welcome the Senate’s impending support for the Democrat terms of reference. This Inquiry will take place in the lead-up to next year’s Federal Election, and with knowledge economy issues now firmly on the national agenda, it will give both old parties the chance to add substance to their rhetoric.

“The Australian Democrats have always been committed to a well-resourced, universally-accessible and high-quality public

education sector.

“Students, staff, representative bodies and institutions will at last have the chance to make their case on the future of higher education in Australia. I look forward to hearing their submissions,” concluded Senator Stott Despoja.


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