To invest in universities is to invest in our future

Earlier this year, the Federal Government announced cuts of $2.8 billion to the expected funding for student support and universities, already on top of a $1 billion in cuts announced late last year.

 

I don’t know about you, but to me it really makes no sense.

 

According to OECD figures, our public investment in universities ranks just 25th out of 29 advanced economies. Meanwhile, the strongest nations in our region are investing more and more in universities to drive skills, science and research.

 

That is, nations in our region are investing into their best resource – their minds – while we are going in the opposite direction.

 

As a student at RMIT University where I recently completed an undergraduate degree, I became well aware of the financial situation. RMIT’s primary analysis suggested that the funding cuts would cost the University more than $25 million over the next four years.

 

Even with the government’s promise to maintain indexation, the massive reductions have made the framing of future budgets increasingly difficult, as RMIT is still carrying the effects of cuts imposed on higher and vocational education in 2012.

 

Australians have the potential to transform our economy and indeed the world.  Despite having less than 0.3% of the world’s population, we account for over three per cent of the world’s scientific research output.

 

The Bionic Ear, Black Box Flight Recorders, spray-on skin for burns victims and WiFi are just some Australian innovations that come to mind.

 

Who do you think drives the innovation behind such products and services and industries? Our universities.

 

Furthermore, the Australian Workforce Productivity Agency found that each extra one dollar invested in tertiary education grows the economy by $26 and grows tax revenue by $8. I really can’t think of any public funded investment which pays itself off better than investment in tertiary education.

 

To invest in universities is to invest in our future.

 

I don’t understand politicians. I don’t think most people do. But to me it’s clear: the Federal Government needs to stop cutting and start investing more into our tertiary education.

 

 

 

By Vince Stefano

We must back our students

The formation of undergraduate students is a time of utmost importance for both the students and the future of the nation. The DLP believes that certain changes must be made to the  Social Security Act 1991 to ensure equitable access to university education and to increase the quality of life for our students.

These changes include:

  • Raising the level of student income support payments to the Henderson poverty line
  • Increasing the parental means test threshold to the level of Average Weekly Earnings
  • Lowering the age of independence from 22 to 18
  • Reintroducing Centrelink counters at university campuses

 

Currently, student income support payments are at less that 70% of the Henderson poverty line. This is a shameful way of treating our nation’s future.

Lowering the age of independence to 18 will make means testing fairer – there are many students under the age of 22 who are financially independent because their parents cannot afford the costs incurred by tertiary education.

Having Centrelink counters at university campuses will be of immense benefit to students who are often tied to tight weekly schedules, as well as cut the waiting queues at Centrelink offices.

 

The DLP also believes in retaining Start Up Scholarships, as these play an important role in easing the burden of costs that students are faced with at the start of each semester.

 

Our students deserve a fair go. The best investment any government can make is in the future of its nation.

 

Click here to view our full Students Policy