ACT News


ACT vulnerable to potential uni cuts

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.


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