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VCs jointly condemn funding cuts

6 June 2017: University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Deep Saini and eight other university heads have united in their opposition to proposed funding reform.

Australian universities, attended by more than 280,000 students, jointly condemn the decision of the Federal Government to cut its Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding by 5 per cent and to put a further 7.5 per cent at risk.

The $2.8 billion reduction in funding would hit hardest the universities that do the heaviest lifting in terms of social equity.

These are the universities that admit the greatest proportion of regional students, students who are the first in their family to go to university, Indigenous students and disadvantaged students. These are also the universities that derive the greatest proportion of their revenue from the funding stream the Government proposes to cut.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Deep Saini said the University strongly opposed the proposed cuts because they are based on flawed assumptions that betray a lack of coherent vision or policy for higher education.

“The University of Canberra has firmly stood against any attempt to shift the burden of cost of education to students without a demonstrable benefit to the students, institutions or the country,” Professor Saini said.

The Government has pointed to university surpluses to suggest that universities have more money than they need, however such surpluses are not stockpiled in bank accounts. They are necessary to fund investment in new laboratories, upgraded lecture theatres and essential campus facilities, such as technology.

By definition, an “efficiency” dividend demands that the more financially inefficient – or unprofitable – operations of an organisation be cut. At a university, the sorts of operations that are often least profitable include small or regional campuses, foreign languages, student support and research.

As a result, these funding cuts raise the question of the Government’s vision for the future of the sector.

“In this regard, the current proposals are no different than the failed proposals of the past, and therefore, the University of Canberra stands firmly in opposition to this,” Professor Saini concluded.

We call on the Government to scale back its inequitable funding cuts and to support the role that higher education plays in providing opportunity and making Australia a more egalitarian society.

View the statement in full here.


University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Deep Saini

Western Sydney University Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Barney Glover

Australian Catholic University Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Greg Craven

Edith Cowan University Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Chapman

Swinburne University of Technology Vice-Chancellor Professor Linda Kristjanson

Victoria University Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Dawkins

Charles Sturt University Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann

University of New England Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Professor Annabelle Duncan

University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen