Senate debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Education Funding

4:34 pm

Photo of Lee RhiannonLee Rhiannon (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

  (i) the University of Sydney in the week beginning 20 November 2011 announced 340 planned job cuts to academic and general staff, due to a forecasted budget shortfall, placing further pressure on staff to meet the increased teaching demands that will arise from uncapped student places next year,

  (ii) other universities have recently announced similar job cuts due to budget pressures, including La Trobe University's plans to shed up to 230 academic and general staff in 2012, 50 jobs at Macquarie University and mooted cuts to the University of New South Wales and the University of Melbourne Arts faculties,

  (iii) while Australia's total expenditure on tertiary education is in line with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 1.6 per cent of national gross domestic product (GDP), Australia's public funding levels of 0.7 per cent of GDP are one of the lowest of any OECD country, falling well short of the OECD average of 1 per cent,

  (iv) Australia is the only OECD country to go backwards in terms of public expenditure on tertiary education institutions in real terms since 1995, leaving Australia lagging behind the United States of America, Finland and Canada, as well as being overtaken by Denmark, Korea and Sweden during this period,

  (v) chronically low public funding of universities has resulted in an unhealthy reliance on international student fees, creating budget uncertainty which has placed increased pressure on academic staff and students, with higher student to staff ratios and fewer resources, reducing the overall quality of teaching and learning at universities, and

  (vi) the Review of Australian Higher Education (the Bradley review) recommended a 10 per cent increase in university student base funding, and Australia still awaits the release of the Lomax-Smith review of base funding; and

(b) calls on the Government to:

  (i) immediately increase public funding by 10 per cent per government supported university student, as recommended by the Bradley review, to give budget certainty to universities, and

  (ii) set a longer term target to invest 1 per cent of GDP to fund universities, to bring Australia in line with the OECD average, to ensure that Australia maintains a quality tertiary education sector and remains internationally competitive.

Question put.

The Senate divided. [16:39]

(The Deputy President—Senator Parry)

Question negatived.