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Freezing university funding is out of step with the views of most Australians

Margaret Gardner writes in The Conversation (28.2.18) that the federal government's freeze on university funding not only limits opportunities for students, but it puts limitations on the communities that universities serve, on the economy, and on business interested in forming collaborations.

'When Australia decided in 2009 to uncap university places, educational opportunity was to be matched to the knowledge demands of the future. It was a bold advance – and one supported by both sides of politics.

'Since that time, we have seen 55% growth in enrolments from the poorest fifth of Australian households, 48% growth for regional and rural students, 89% for Indigenous students and 106% growth for students with a disability.

'This expansion of opportunity is why we cannot accept the freeze on university funding inflicted last December. That freeze inflicts a cut of A$2.2 billion on Australia’s universities and the communities they serve.

'The university funding freeze is really a cap on opportunity. And it will limit the share of the highly-skilled, well-paid jobs in our economy that can be done by qualified Australians in the decades ahead.

'... So when we hear commentators suggest that university education is now extended to too many people, we should be clear such views are really about reducing opportunity for some Australians.

'Whose children, relatives or partners are they suggesting should not have this chance? Not only are such views out of step with our global economic competitors, they’re also out of step with the views of the overwhelming majority of Australians.'


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