- Funding freeze saves Federal Government up to $2 billion
- High-ranking Group of Eight universities face an average 3.5 per cent hit, compared to 7 per cent for Regional University Network institutions
- Worst impact is CQU’s 15 per cent hit, while eight universities will see no change
The Great Hall at the University of Queensland (UQ) – UQ won’t be affedted by the cuts – ABC News: Giulio Saggin, file photo
Regional universities are set to face a more severe impact than Australia’s top-ranked universities, raising fears of skills shortages in rural areas.
The savings measure, worth up to $2 billion, will see the Commonwealth contribution for most undergraduate courses remain at last year’s levels in 2018 and in 2019.
Vice-chancellors are now threatening to slash the number of places they offer and to axe campus services.
The ABC obtained the Education Department’s four-year funding projections after a Freedom of Information (FOI) investigation.
The University of Tasmania and Victoria’s La Trobe University would each have received about $175 million more in base funding under pre-freeze policies.
Western Australia’s Edith Cowan University and South Australia’s Flinders University were both set to pocket a further $115 million.
Peak body Universities Australia said the change effectively ended the uncapped entry system introduced by the Gillard government.
“At many universities, what they’re staring down the barrel of right now is really reducing their first-year intake,” chief executive Catriona Jackson said.
“That’s not something that any family wants to hear, that their son or daughter, who was looking at a place at university … won’t be able to get one.”
Ms Jackson said the “massive gulf” in university attainment between city-dwellers and rural Australians would widen, and regional universities would “not be able to respond to skills shortages in the workforce”.
Central Queensland University worst hit
The ABC understands some institutions predict the blow will not be as bad as the figures suggest.
One elite university, the University of Queensland, will not see any change to their funding, according to the official document.
Group of Eight universities — a collection of high-ranking, capital city institutions — will be worse off by about 3.5 per cent on average versus business as usual.
By comparison, members of the Regional Universities Network face an average hit of 7 per cent.
The Government figures show Central Queensland University (CQU) will face the worst impact, with base funding about 15 per cent lower, equating to almost $150 million.
“Our students will see a diminishing of services”, CQU vice-chancellor Scott Bowman said, pointing to sport activities, careers advice, and psychological support.
“We know that mental health issues are a problem, we would love to put more counsellors in to provide those services, but that’s just not going to be possible.”
Professor Bowman said the freeze was “a tax on success” that punished his university for rapid growth. CQU now has 16 campuses across five states.
Government suggests universities ‘find efficiencies’
The freeze, announced last December, covers most undergraduate degrees but does not change postgraduate course subsidies.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham told the ABC that base funding would continue to grow during the freeze period, but at a slower rate.
“Base funding for universities will still grow by nearly $1 billion over the next four years, and that’s without taking into account growth in research and other programs that universities receive funding for,” he said.
Senator Birmingham said institutions should “find efficiencies out of what are very significant marketing and administration budgets”.
“Start with administration budgets, marketing budgets, the non-core areas of activities that don’t necessarily impact on students,” he said.
The Government said student contributions to course costs would remain unchanged.
Find out how your university will be affected:
|University||State||Decline||Impact of freeze ($)|
|Macquarie University (Macq)||NSW||7.1 per cent||118 million|
|Southern Cross University (SCU)||NSW||5.7 per cent||33 million|
|The University of Wollongong (UOW)||NSW||5.1 per cent||60 million|
|The University of New England (UNE)||NSW||3.2 per cent||25 million|
|University of Sydney (USyd)||NSW||2.8 per cent||62 million|
|The University of New South Wales (UNSW)||NSW||2.3 per cent||48 million|
|The University of Newcastle (UON)||NSW||2.2 per cent||33 million|
|University of Technology Sydney (UTS)||NSW||1.9 per cent||31 million|
|Western Sydney University (WSU)||NSW||1.6 per cent||32 million|
|Charles Sturt University (CSU)||NSW||1.1 per cent||12 million|
|Avondale College of Higher Education||NSW||0.0 per cent||0|
|La Trobe University||Vic||9.0 per cent||175 million|
|The University of Melbourne (UOM or UniMelb)||Vic||6.4 per cent||139 million|
|Federation University Australia (FedUni)||Vic||5.9 per cent||29 million|
|Monash University||Vic||5.1 per cent||134 million|
|RMIT University||Vic||4.7 per cent||96 million|
|Victoria University (VU)||Vic||3.1 per cent||28 million|
|Swinburne University of Technology||Vic||3.1 per cent||41 million|
|Deakin University||Vic||2.4 per cent||51 million|
|Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly NMIT)||Vic||0.0 per cent||0|
|Eastern College Australia Inc||Vic||0.0 per cent||0|
|Holmesglen Institute of TAFE||Vic||0.0 per cent||0|
|Central Queensland University (CQU)||Qld||15.0 per cent||147 million|
|University of the Sunshine Coast (USC)||Qld||8.7 per cent||66 million|
|James Cook University (JCU)||Qld||3.2 per cent||29 million|
|University of Southern Queensland (USQ)||Qld||3.1 per cent||29 million|
|Queensland University of Technology (QUT)||Qld||2.1 per cent||45 million|
|Griffith University||Qld||0.6 per cent||12 million|
|The University of Queensland (UQ)||Qld||0.0 per cent||0|
|Christian Heritage College (CHC)||Qld||0.0 per cent||0|
|Edith Cowan University (ECU)||WA||9.8 per cent||114 million|
|Murdoch University||WA||5.1 per cent||36 million|
|Curtin University of Technology||WA||2.6 per cent||47 million|
|The University of Western Australia (UWA)||WA||2.1 per cent||25 million|
|Flinders University||SA||9.8 per cent||115 million|
|University of South Australia (UniSA)||SA||5.7 per cent||83 million|
|The University of Adelaide||SA||4.2 per cent||53 million|
|University of Tasmania (UTas)||Tas||11.4 per cent||177 million|
|The Australian National University (ANU)||ACT||3.8 per cent||25 million|
|University of Canberra (UC)||ACT||2.6 per cent||18 million|
|Charles Darwin University (CDU)||NT||8.1 per cent||30 million|
|Australian Catholic University (ACU)||Multiple||8.2 per cent||150 million|
|Tabor||Multiple||0.0 per cent||0|
|The University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA)||Multiple||0.0 per cent||0|
Note: The figures above are approximates based on data provided by the Education Department. The numbers show the combined impact over four calendar years (2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021).
The numbers are estimates based on student levels in universities’ estimates of student load from April 2017.
The freeze is expected to save the Government up to $2 billion over the four fiscal years to June 30, 2021.
Base funding is comprised of government payments and student contributions across sub-bachelor, undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
First published by the ABC – Thursday 14 June 2018. See: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-14/university-funding-freeze-regional-campuses-worst-hit/9857532