“Increasing Youth Allowance, Austudy, ABSTUDY and other income support payments are particularly welcome measures for students struggling with financial pressures.
“We have called on government to ensure university students are included in any cost-of-living support packages and are pleased they have taken this step.
“At the same time, government remains focused on returning the budget to a position of strength. Boosting productivity is essential in the face of forecast medium-to-long-term economic challenges.
“Universities are key economic drivers, through the provision of skilled workers and new ideas, research and development, and have a vital role to play.
“Every dollar spent on research returns $5 to the economy, and university-educated workers make the economy $185 billion bigger.
“A one per cent lift in funding for research would expand the economy by $24 billion over a decade.
“Yet, investment in research fell to its lowest level as a share of gross domestic product on record in 2022-23 and now sits at 0.49 per cent as Australia continues to slide down the international order.
“Our institutions are vital partners of government in delivering national priorities, from boosting defence capability to providing the skills and expertise needed to guide the energy transition.
“The skilled workers and research needed to respond to new and emerging economic challenges and shifts in our strategic environment are educated at our universities.
“As demand for university-educated workers and research and development grows, universities need the full support of government to continue doing their vital work on behalf of the nation.
“We welcome funding for new university places and additional clinical placements to support the education of the highly skilled workers our economy and communities can’t function without.
“This is a good start, but greater support for universities would make the task of building a better economic future for all Australians easier because we are a good return on investment, and we drive the productivity the economy so desperately needs.
“We need more skilled workers and more research and development, not less, but we can’t do it without more investment from government.
“We recognise not everything can be funded and tough decisions must be made. But the fact remains: universities make the nation stronger and more prosperous.
“We are working with government through the Universities Accord to get the policy and funding settings right for universities and the communities we serve and hope this paves the way for changes in the next federal budget.”
Key measures for the university sector include:
- Funding for 4,000 additional Commonwealth supported places to support the skills requirements of the AUKUS program.
- $91.3 million for additional psychology placements, including 500 psychology post-graduate placements, 500 one-year internships, and 2,000 supervisor training sessions.
- $50.2 million to establish the Primary Care and Midwifery Scholarships program to support registered nurses and midwives to undertake post-graduate study and improve their skills.
- $31.6 million to trial enhanced training arrangements to support international medical students working in rural and remote locations.
- $10.7 million to boost the primary care nursing workforce by creating 6,000 primary care clinical placements and providing incentives to clinics employing returning nurses.
- $4.2 million to support James Cook University to deliver the Australian General Practice Training program.