The Gillard Government will invest $1.9 billion in Australian universities over the next four years to meet a surge in demand for places, including around 1,650 extra places per year for sub-bachelor and postgraduate training in teaching, nursing and Asian languages.
The funding includes an extra $346 million in today's Budget just to account for an upward revision in demand for places since October last year.
Under the demand-driven funding system, the Government provides funding for every domestic student enrolled in a bachelor degree at a public university.
As a result of extra funding associated with the demand-driven system, 30,000 more young Australians will be able to attend university next year compared with 2013. By 2017 enrolments will be up by 76,000 students from 2013.
"Already 190,000 more students are going to university compared with the previous government," Tertiary Education Minister Craig Emerson said.
Of the estimated 751,000 students at Australian universities today, one in four are there because of additional university places delivered under Labor.
"The Gillard Government is opening the gates of our universities to many more young people, including thousands who are the first in their families ever to go to uni," Dr Emerson said.
The Government is providing an extra $84.6 million over the next four years to fund additional diploma-level and masters-level places.
The additional masters places will assist universities to move their existing one-year or one-and-a-half year postgraduate courses to two years, consistent with the new, more rigorous standards for teacher training courses being accelerated as part of the National Plan for School Improvement.
"Teaching quality is vital in giving our kids a flying start in life, ensuring no one is left behind," Dr Emerson said
"That's why we are investing record amounts in university and school education to ensure all our kids get a world-class education."
In the 2013-14 Budget, funding for universities will increase in every year over the forward estimates, despite the modest efficiency dividend being applied in 2014 and 2015.
Under Labor, funding for university places has increased from $3.5 billion in 2007 to $6.1 billion in 2013, a 75 per cent increase in nominal terms or 50 per cent increase in real terms.
Media contacts: Minister Emerson's office 02 6277 7420