What to look for in the budget

Posted By TEU on May 28, 2009 |


Tertiary Update Volume 12 Number 16

This afternoon’s budget follows a long-running campaign by the government to lower public expectations around available money. In the tertiary education sector in particular, both the finance minister and the minister of education have used speeches in recent weeks to promote austerity. While many politicians like to lower expectations so that a subsequent unpleasant announcement seems less harsh, analysts expect that there could be real substance to the government’s warnings.

The Standard calculates that, taking into account population growth and inflation, the Vote Education allocation of $11 billion will need to grow by about $500 million, or 4.5 percent, just to maintain the status quo.

Education Review suggested last week that two areas which might be cut, or at least not increased enough to match inflation, include funding to the EFTS cap and the money promised under the tripartite agreements of the past several years.

With student enrolments climbing dramatically this year, there has been significant pressure on the Tertiary Education Commission’s cap on EFTS funding. If the government ignores this problem, many students could find that institutions are reluctant to enrol them without a government subsidy.

The tripartite funding for the university sector has played an important role in raising salaries, especially for academics over the last three years, in an attempt to make them more internationally competitive, particularly with Australia. The government is unlikely to support such targeted funding. However, if such targeted salary increases are blocked that will put significant pressure on universities’ ability to remain internationally competitive as employers, especially when the Australian government is set to pour significant additional funding into tertiary education. There are also concerns about what will this will mean for university bargaining which is set to kick off next month

Meanwhile, the ITP sector will be watching closely the balance of funding support allocated to industry training and public provider training. The government has expressed strong and, at times, exclusive support for industry training as the solution to workforce skills development. ITPs will be looking to see that their role is seen as critical to this and that funding reflects this.

People in the ITPs will also be watching for more news about the government’s flagship Youth Guarantee scheme. TEU has previously expressed concerns at details of the scheme; especially the need to help young people into credible public education courses rather than fly-by-night private providers.

You can read more coverage of the budget on the TEU’s budget webpage, which will be regularly updated over the next few days. TEU President Tom Ryan has issued a challenge in the Education Review to the government to ensure the budget helps the country learn our way out of trouble.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Pay expectations falling too far
  2. Student journals improve learning
  3. School students roll out and onwards
  4. Single Australian framework for universities and TAFEs
  5. Environment before exams

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TEU Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Tertiary Education Union and others. You can subscribe to Tertiary Update by email or feed reader. Back issues are available on the TEU website. Direct inquiries should be made to Stephen Day, email: http://scr.im/stephenday

Thanks to Jeff Keen @ Flickr for the image

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