The major finding is contained in a survey undertaken by GA Research who undertook research to understand Australians’ opinions of the Federal Government’s proposed reforms to the university sector and Universities Australia’s suggested changes to these reforms.
The nationally representative online survey of Australians over 18 years (n=1282) conducted from 22 to 24 October found that when presented with the Government’s reforms in their current form, only 22 per cent showed some level of support (strongly support 6%, mildly support 16%). Fifty nine percent of the sample opposed the reforms (40% strongly opposed, 19% mildly opposed).
But when presented with Universities Australia’s suggested changes, the level of support rose significantly to 56% (strongly support 25%, mildly support 31%), with only 18% opposed (8% strongly opposed, 10% mildly opposed).
Universities Australia is suggesting three key changes to the package:
- reduce the magnitude of the 20 per cent cut in the government contribution to relieve upward pressure on fee price;
- maintain the CPI interest rate on student loans; and
- provide for an adjustment package to assist with the transition to a market-based system.
Chief Executive of Universities Australia, Belinda Robinson, said that the research showed that a majority of Australians agreed that the proposed changes offered a fair and reasonable compromise that the Senate is now in a position to make a reality.
“With key changes, the Senate can ensure that fairness is injected into the core of the package. Fairness for students, fairness for families and fairness for taxpayers,” Ms Robinson said.
“The Senate has the opportunity to shape a package and leave a lasting legacy of which they can be proud. A legacy that strengthens our universities while keeping the system fair.”
Ms Robinson said that we have a problem with funding Australian universities sustainably that must be addressed.
“Let’s not kick the can down the road for another generation to grapple with and risk the quality and competitiveness of our higher education system,” Ms Robinson said.