Tertiary education’s sub-zero budget

Posted By TEU on May 31, 2012 |

Tertiary Update Vol 15 No 18

Last week’s Budget delivered a slight decrease in funding for tertiary education, down from $4 billion last year to $3.9 billion this year. Treasury forecasts that funding will continue to remain below 2009 levels ($4.5 billion) through until at least 2016, while student numbers will continue to remain higher than 2009 levels.

The Budget contained no new funding to match inflation (education inflation for the last year was 3.6 percent) or match the on-going growth in student numbers, or to match the increasing performance demands on the sector (‘outputs’ for both student achievement and research)

TEU national president Dr Sandra Grey said the cut in funding would increase workload pressure on staff, and would encourage further reviews, restructuring and redundancies at institutions.

“The problem is a narrowing of the focus of tertiary education – with funding going to areas that the government currently claims will provide strong economic returns (science and engineering) at the expense of a broader tertiary sector with the intellectual capability and skill levels to respond to a rapidly changing global society and economy.”

“This narrowing focus has also created a mismatch between what the government says and does,” said Dr Grey. “On the one hand, government says it wants higher skill levels and contributions from all work-capable adults. But policy and funding shifts do not support this. Funding cuts to lower-level courses that are often the entry point into tertiary education for low-skilled workers, along with cuts to provision such as Adult and Community Education and literacy and numeracy are barriers to education.”

Read more TEU budget analysis here.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Council votes to save cultural, film and theatre studies
  2. Ministry of Education states a narrow intent
  3. Government flies blind on workforce planning
  4. Vocation training savaged in Victoria, AU
  5. PBRF changes employment practice
  6. TEU advises on release of PBRF scores

Other news

A $40 annual fee on student loans has been introduced with little publicity, in a move the Government hopes will raise $20 million in revenue. The fee has come out of the blue for some borrowers while the Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has called the lack of coverage surprising – The New Zealand Herald

Foundation Focussed Training Opportunities (FFTO) providers could be facing a huge 37 percent cut in a couple of years. Papers for Vote Social Development show that the cut is planned for Vocational Skills Training from 2014-15 – Ed Blog

Caitlin Davies has been forced to add thousands of dollars in student loan debt and take on extra hours of part-time work so that she can finish her masters degree – Stuff

Australian higher education is often seen as a female-friendly industry, with overall numbers of both female students and academic staff outnumbering men. Yet women remain a minority as senior academics. In 2009 only a quarter of appointments to positions above the level of associate professor went to women. So what happens to all those women toiling away as tutors and lecturers and researchers when it comes time to move up? Do they simply lose interest or does something else get in the way? – The Conversation

“Skills have become the global currency of the 21st century, but this currency can depreciate if it isn’t used” -Andreas Schleicher, deputy director for education at the OECD.


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