As you all know, the Abbott Government announced the 2015-16 Budget on Tuesday May 12. There has been much discussion within our College about the ramifications.
Here’s a quick summary of the items relating to our sector, for those who haven’t had a chance to catch up on the details:
– After facing general public opposition, losing VC support and being voted down twice in the Senate, the higher education package from last year is still on the table
– The proposed 20% cuts to teaching funding (saving $1.9m) are still factored into the budget estimates, though the Government has set enrolment targets to increase from 560,000 this year to 670,000 by 2018, with 19.3% made up of students from disadvantaged backgrounds
– The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) has secured funding for the next two years, with $300m from the Sustainable Research Excellence program (SRE) redirected over four years
– The Collaborative Research Network (CRN) will cease from 30 June 2016, though none of the currently funded projects will be affected by the closure
– $17m will be cut from the Cooperative Research Centres program (CRC) between 2015 and 2018
– ARC funding for Linkage and Discovery grants is to remain relatively stable
– Funding for TEQSA continues to be significantly reduced with approximately $4.15m (27%) reduction for 2015-16 from 2014-15 funding
– The Office of Learning and Teaching is to be shut down and replaced with a new $28m centre, embedded within the university sector, to promote teaching and learning. There is no indication in the budget papers as to whether the new centre will continue to distribute research grants and fellowships
– HECS/HELP debt is to be recovered from Australian students who move overseas for more than six months and earn over the threshold, starting from July 2017
– $16.9m over three years to teacher education to lift the quality of courses in universities
– Funding for the Primary Connections and Science by Doing school program has been maintained as well as $12m announced in October 2014 for STEM education initiatives under the Government’s Industry, Innovation and Competitiveness agenda
– $1.8m over two years to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority to develop languages curricula for Auslan, Classical Languages, Hindi, and Turkish
The opposition and The Greens continue to oppose the Higher Education and Research Reform package while the opposition also proposes that 3% of GDP go to research and development by the end of the next decade. The opposition also proposed $45m in 20,000 STEM Award degrees starting from 2017, $127m in a five-year STEM teacher training fund from 2017, $133m on 25,000 teaching scholarships over 5 years and $5,000 upon commencement of course, and $10,000 per student paid after their first year of classroom teaching.
Additionally, The Greens opposed the cuts to the CRCs, science funding and innovation.