The Group of Eight (Go8), Australia’s research intensive universities, say the government’s proposed changes to university and student funding will put at risk key programs which target regional and rural education and research.
In its submission to the Federal Government’s ‘Independent Review into Rural, Regional and Remote Education’ the Go8 calls on the Senate to block the Higher Education Reform Bill on the basis that cuts to university funding will force universities to make difficult choices about the allocation of resources across teaching, student support, and research with serious impacts on access, choice, quality, and, most importantly, equity.
“This package fails to offer coherent policy or funding certainty. It does not address regional disadvantage, it does not address regional workforce needs, it does not address living away from home costs for regional and rural students, and it does not include any new commitment by Government to invest in equity programs to support regional and rural students, said Go8 Chief Executive, Vicki Thomson.
The fact is that this package has nothing to do with reform and everything to do with cutting university budgets and making students pay more.
“The Go8’s contribution to regional Australia is strong and vigorous and we do not, and never have, stopped at major city limits. In line with that, the Go8 is highly supportive of a push by the Federal Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan to establish a National Regional Higher Education strategy.”
Ms Thomson said Ms McGowan was to be congratulated on her focus and that the Go8 would do everything it could to support the development of such a strategy. “It is overdue and does not require legislation to develop. The Go8 would be keen to work constructively on this,” she said.
“We are also exceptionally proud that:
- More than 25,000 regional and remote students study at a Go8 university each year.
- One in eight rural and regional students study at a Go8 university.
- 50 per cent of agriculture, and environmental students in Australia study at a Go8 university.
- 60 per cent of veterinary students in Australia are trained by Go8 universities.
- Go8 Universities spend a far greater proportion of their HEPPP funding (targeted at equity and access) on outreach to regional and remote schools and communities than any other university grouping.
- Once regional students come to our universities, they are more likely to stay and complete their course with retention rates for regional, remote and Indigenous students at Go8 universities significantly higher than the national average.
- Once they complete their studies, many of our graduates return to rural areas to generate wealth and contribute to the well-being of their communities.
- We are responsible for the majority of medical training in rural and regional areas.