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Senator the Hon Chris Evans. Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research.

Record investment gives universities a better base to thrive 

28 Jan 2013

Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, today ruled out a price hike for students to study at university.

Senator Evans today released the Gillard Government's response to the Higher Education Base Funding Review Report on public investment in higher education.

Senator Evans said the Gillard Government had made an unprecedented investment in higher education since 2007, despite a challenging fiscal environment.

"Given the record investment in recurrent and capital funding for our universities made by this Government, there will be no further general increase in base funding at this stage," Senator Evans said.

"Labor has invested more than $43.2 billion in core university funding from 2008 to 2011.

"From 2012 to 2015 we will invest a further $58.9 billion-more than double the level of funding under the last four years of the Howard Government.

"Universities and TAFEs across the country have benefited from $5 billion in capital funding to modernise research facilities, libraries and lecture halls.

"Improved indexation will provide an additional $3 billion to universities from 2011 to 2015. In 2013, it is delivering $642 million in additional funding."

Senator Evans said that this unprecedented level of investment had enabled more students to attend university and has also lifted funding per university student place.

"An independent report by Ernst & Young in 2012 showed funding per university student place has increased by 10 per cent, or almost $2,000, because of the Gillard Government's reforms," Senator Evans said.

Senator Evans ruled out increasing the cost of university education through higher student contributions.

"Unlike the Coalition, who will deregulate fees, cut Youth Allowance and shift the costs of full-fees to students, the Gillard Government does not want greatly increased debt to burden young people well into their working lives.

"Our transformation of higher education is intended to develop a high-skilled, world-class workforce through more young Australians with bachelor qualifications and more opportunities for students from low socio-economic backgrounds to participate in the jobs of the future.

"We are investing a record amount in our universities because we know higher education changes the life of the individual, but it also boosts productivity and drives a smarter, more innovative nation."

Senator Evans said the Base Funding Review has informed higher education policy over the past 12 months and a number of important recommendations have been implemented.

These include:

  • Rebasing Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program funding to allow for an estimated $1,400 per low SES full time student place - $400 per student higher than the rate recommended by the Review;
  • Continuing support for students with the costs of study through the HECS HELP scheme and retention of maximum amounts for student contribution;
  • Increasing the amount of enabling loading per student and setting this at a per capita rate that will be indexed in future years; and
  • Retaining postgraduate coursework study funding at the same rate as for undergraduate courses.

Senator Evans thanked the expert panel, chaired by Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, for preparing the report.

Media contacts: Minister's office 02 6277 7580

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