By 2021, funding per place will be 4.9 per cent lower in real terms, due to cuts applied in both 2018 and 2019.
“This higher education package won’t increase university funding”, said Universities Australia Chair Professor Margaret Gardner.
“In fact, it’s designed to do the opposite. The centrepiece of the package is a $1 billion cut.”
The Education Minister has stated that funding will increase by 23 per cent over forward estimates. Almost all of this increase – 87 per cent – is due to growth in student HELP loans. HELP loans are ultimately paid back by students.
Most HELP loans – nearly 80 per cent – are expected to be paid back.
“The figures used by the Government reflects a decision to make students pay more”, Professor Gardner said.
The increase in loans includes both the 7.5 per cent increase in student contributions and the decision to move permanent residents and New Zealanders from Government-subsidised places and make them pay full fees.
The proposed changes would increase student contributions to the cost of their higher education.On average, the share covered by student fees will rise from 46 per cent to 48 per cent. This is only an average, and doesn’t reflect what students in different disciplines actually pay.
By 2021, more than a third of Commonwealth-supported students will be paying more than half of the cost. Nearly one-fifth will be paying more than 90 per cent.
“The Government’s own figures show no increase in public funding,” Professor Gardner said.
“Public funding for universities is already low in Australia compared to other countries. This package moves in the wrong direction.”
Excluding HELP loans, total Government grant funding will grow by only 5 per cent (in nominal terms) over the forward estimates. Adjusting for inflation, this means no growth.