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Wednesday, 4 June 2014

University of NSW calls for 'rational debate' on education reforms rather than 'misleading assumptions' - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

University of NSW calls for 'rational debate' on education reforms rather than 'misleading assumptions' - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

University of NSW calls for 'rational debate' on education reforms rather than 'misleading assumptions'



Updated
8 hours 50 minutes ago



The University of New South Wales (UNSW) is calling
for a "rational debate" about proposed changes to higher education,
rather than what it is describing as "misleading assumptions".
The
Government wants to deregulate universities, allowing them to set their
own fees, and increase the interest rate paid on student loans.


In
his first budget speech last month, Treasurer Joe Hockey said the
higher education sector was being held back and "couldn't compete with
the best in the world".


However, modelling by Universities Australia (UA) - which represents the country's 39 universities - has found the changes will see fees increase for certain courses, including nursing and engineering.

UA chief executive Belinda Robinson told Lateline that measures in the budget threaten to encourage students to study overseas.

"We
might start to see Australian students voting with their feet and in
fact starting to consider international higher education providers," she
said.


But UNSW vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer says the modelling "
... on the impact on fees of changes to cluster funding rates is based
on a fundamental misunderstanding of the way the system works and does
not represent the view of UNSW".




"It is up to universities, not Canberra, to decide what
fees should apply to which courses. The funding by cluster is simply a
way of generating a total sum of money that the Commonwealth is prepared
to contribute for the teaching of Australian students in Commonwealth
supported places," he said in a statement.


"The way in which those
sums are distributed across disciplines is entirely up to the
universities, as are the fees that a university would seek to charge on
top.


"The 20 per cent cut in government funding drives an increase
of 30 per cent in student contributions. As the UA paper indicates, on
average the amount of funding per student is reduced by $2251.


"Therefore
an average increase of $2,251 would be required to compensate. It is up
to the university concerned whether a disproportionate amount comes
from some faculties or whether it applies the increase of $2,251 to each
course on a uniform basis.


"Nothing in the legislation impacts the university’s discretion to do this.

"Consequently
statements about large increases for particular disciplines indicate
what universities are considering they might do, not what they are
required to do."


But he says he is concerned about some of the
proposed changes though, including the changes to student loans and the
size of the cut in Commonwealth funding.


"There are elements of
the government package that I would like to see amended, particularly in
regard to the changes to HELP, the size of the overall cut in
government funding and the reduction in funding for the research
training scheme," he said.


"But we need a rational debate based on facts rather than misleading assumptions."

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