With Australians in regional areas such as Ballarat already far less likely than their counterparts in the cities to attend university, the Turnbull Government’s cuts to university funding are threatening to widen this education gap even further.
“With university orientation continuing across the region and classes restarting for the year, it is a good time to reflect on the damage that this government is inflicting on our regional universities”, Ms King said.
“In 2009 the then Labor government uncapped university places, resulting in a 55 per cent growth in university enrolments from the poorest fifth of Australian households and a 48 per cent growth in regional and rural students at university”.
“This was a boon for Ballarat residents and our regional universities such as ACU and Federation University, whose students are often the first of their families to attend university”.
“The Turnbull Government is now undoing this work with a virtual reintroduction of university caps by freezing the Commonwealth Grants Scheme funding at 2017 levels for two years, and linking growth from 2020 to performance and national population levels. This is set to hit regional universities hardest, undermining the growth of these institutions and putting more barriers in the path of residents of Ballarat and other regional areas who want to pursue a higher education”.
If elected at the next election, Labor has committed to a major review of tertiary education, including both TAFE and universities, to ensure that they are of the highest standard possible and work effectively and fairly for all Australians.