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ACT vulnerable to potential uni cuts

Under the Gonski reforms announced by Prime Minister Gillard, the ACT will only receive an additional $100 million compared to $5 billion for NSW and $4 billion Victoria.

Under the Gonski reforms announced by Prime Minister Gillard, the ACT will only receive an additional $100 million compared to $5 billion for NSW and $4 billion Victoria. Photo: Angela Wylie

The Gonski reforms were never going to bring large sums of money to the ACT, chief minister Katy Gallagher, told Fairfax on Sunday.

The intent was always to set minimum expenditure and achievement standards in place, not to give more to jurisdictions that are already doing well.

''We [the ACT government] have put a lot of effort into education,'' Ms Gallagher said.

''We already sit at or above the standards set by Gonski. The big issue for us is to maintain and build on the system we already have.''

The chief minister is waiting on more information about the possible effects taking back $2.3 billion from universities to help pay for the changes will have on the territory.

She concedes that, with two universities, the ACT is potentially vulnerable to fallout from funding cuts.

Finding an additional $900 million through a 2 per cent university efficiency dividend was not going to be easy at a time when the institutions are already lean and mean.

''Everyone has to realise there is not an endless supply of money,'' she said.

Ms Gallagher, who has ministerial responsibility for higher education and was the minister for education from 2002 to 2006, said she would be watching what happened ''very closely''. ''At the moment it [the likely changes to higher education] is not clear; there is not a lot of detail. I'll need to speak to the vice-chancellors [of the University of Canberra and the Australian National University].''

Under the Gonski reforms, announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the ACT will only receive an additional $100 million compared to $5 billion for NSW and $4 billion for Victoria. This reflects Canberra's relative affluence and an already high level of investment in education.

Ms Gallagher said the fact the ACT already met Gonski benchmarks for expenditure and achievement indicated that the money was being targeted well. She made it clear there was no division between the ACT and the federal government on the issue and said it would be disappointing if people took a ''winners and losers'' mindset to Friday's Council of Australian Governments' meeting in Canberra.

''I won't be doing anything that will disadvantage the ACT but I will be looking for the best national result,'' she said. ''It is best for everyone if the money goes where it is most needed; we are all Australians after all.''

Ms Gallagher, who grew up in Weston Creek, has experienced the ACT education system at every level. The former Duffy student also attended Melrose High and Stirling College before graduating from the Australian National University.

7 comments

  • Point to note, we have four universities in the ACT. ACU and ADFA need to be added to the list (apart from UC and ANU)

    Commenter
    AK
    Date and time
    April 15, 2013, 9:04AM
    • CSU also has an outpost - St Mark's theological college in Barton (also, ADFA is a UNSW outpost)

      Commenter
      John121
      Location
      Singapore
      Date and time
      April 15, 2013, 11:08AM
    • @John121 - yes they are, but it will still affect students from the ACT and region if they cut back on courses, and the people staffing these outposts are also from the ACT.

      Commenter
      AK
      Date and time
      April 15, 2013, 12:05PM
  • I'd suggest the ACT government should fund UC the difference, and then, if it can afford it, fund ANU the gap as well. It would be a great ROI.

    I'm suggesting prioritising UC first in this instance as is it the ACT's university, created by ACT legislation whilst the ANU is a federal creature created by commonwealth legislation and has it's own funding arrangement with the federal government, which is substantially different to that hoisted on the other uni's around Australia.

    Take a page from the Queensland government who contribute around 4% of UQ's total income, compared to the ACT government's contribution to UC which (last time I checked) was less than 1% of UC's budget.

    Commenter
    John121
    Location
    Singapore
    Date and time
    April 15, 2013, 9:27AM
    • @ John..The ACT Government would rather give money to a Sydney based football code than increase its spending on UC.

      Commenter
      Martin Says
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      April 15, 2013, 10:25AM
    • @Martin Says

      Yeah, you are probably right... very sad state of affairs indeed

      Commenter
      John121
      Location
      Singapore
      Date and time
      April 15, 2013, 11:06AM
  • How will the uni's ever find the money to continue enticing all those academics from overseas to come here for nicely paid jobs, to complain about how terrible their work is (poor pay, overwork, students who shouldn't be admitted much less graduated etc)? Here's an idea - how about cancelling the talking head lectures and tutorials, telling the students to read their textbooks / do their library research, hand in their assignments and sit exams. Sure, you'll still need some practical / workshop style tutorials. But is it really that useful to travel to campus to listen to Prof X read the lecture notes written by the textbook author, rather than just look at them through the online portals and post questions on the bulletin boards? Yes the student politicians will howl, but the students who can't swim on their own are the small minority who ought to be failed anyway, rather than being given a bogus pass and giving the genuine graduates a poor reputation.

    Commenter
    blase
    Date and time
    April 15, 2013, 10:56AM
    Comments are now closed

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