Having higher education represented in Cabinet gives effect to the Coalition’s Real Solutions plan that identified education as one of the five pillars supporting future national productivity and prosperity.
“Universities Australia has enjoyed a constructive relationship with Mr Pyne – one of the Coalition’s most energetic and experienced ministers – and we look forward to continuing that relationship in Government,” said Belinda Robinson, Chief Executive of peak body, Universities Australia.
“While portfolio responsibility for universities has yet to be determined, a single education portfolio characterises education as a life-long endeavour, a concept strongly supported by UA.
“Mr Pyne has oft-acknowledged the crucial role that university education and research play in securing Australia’s economic and social prosperity. As he said earlier this year:
`I am certain a newly elected Coalition government and the universities can work together to be drivers of productivity and growth leading to a flowering of innovation and invention that raises the standard of living in Australia and improves the lot of everyone around the world.’ (Speech, 30 April 2013)
Ms Robinson said while there are distinct advantages in bringing education together, there is a risk of higher education policy being buried in such a large and diverse portfolio.
“It is essential that the new Government’s policy framework and ministerial representation enables the development of the best possible university education and research system to stimulate national productivity, promote global engagement and international competitiveness and foster economic growth and industrial diversity,” Ms Robinson said.
Universities Australia will also welcome the opportunity to work with the Abbott government in making sure that the critical areas of science, research and innovation are not neglected.
“We look forward to working with the Government on progressing the New Colombo Plan, further expanding international education, disentangling the sector from unnecessary red tape, and pursuing our common interest in further advancing Australia’s outstanding higher education and research system,” Ms Robinson said.
“We are also keen to discuss the Government’s position in relation to the higher education cuts made by the previous government, particularly the $2,000 cap on tax deductible self-education expenses.”
Ms Robinson also congratulated former Shadow Minister for Universities and Research, Brett Mason, on his new role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.