Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson welcomed the Opposition’s commitment to see funds start flowing again for vital facilities across the country.
“We have long campaigned to save the $3.8 billion EIF and we want to see investment start flowing again for crucial education and research infrastructure,” she said.
“The sector will continue to make that case – and this is a very welcome step in that direction.”
“We are pleased to see the Shadow Minister Tanya Plibersek’s acknowledgement of Government’s role to help maintain and renew the nation’s research and teaching infrastructure and the multiplier effect of Commonwealth investment.”
“Universities don’t expect the federal Government to foot the entire bill on such projects, but an initial Commonwealth investment is so often the catalyst for a virtuous cycle of investment, ultimately doubling or tripling the Commonwealth spend, and guaranteeing value for taxpayers.”
Universities Australia has consistently urged the Parliament not to scrap the Education Investment Fund – the future fund for higher education originally set up by former Treasurer Peter Costello as The Higher Education Endowment Fund.
In evidence to a Senate inquiry last year, Ms Jackson said retaining EIF was crucial because technology was revolutionising teaching and research.
Without Commonwealth support for such buildings and facilities, Australia risked falling behind.
“The EIF has played a fundamental role in maintaining Australia’s world class university research and teaching,” Ms Jackson told the inquiry.
“Abolition of the last remaining capital fund for critical buildings and the cutting-edge equipment essential to modern, life-saving science, would be a body blow to national prosperity.”
Over 100 nation-building projects have been funded from the EIF – from Deakin University’s Future Economy Precinct to UniSA’s Regional Connections program, which takes cutting-edge education to the regions including via high speed internet.
Universities and their students have contributed $3.9 billion to Budget repair since 2011 – and a further $2.1 billion in federal funding cuts to universities were announced last December.