students in universityA JWS Research survey of 1,575 Australians showed that 63 per cent believe that funding cuts to universities would limit access to tertiary education.

The survey’s findings emerged as the federal government seeks to reduce the number of funded university student places in 2018. It could provide up to $1.5 billion of savings. However, university lobbyists argue that the cap would make it more difficult for Australians to gain higher education.

Government Support

Robinson said that government support remains important for universities. It helps them become more globally competitive. Their resources range from research funding to as simple as library furniture.

She said that even if the Senate has opposed several proposed funding cuts and higher fees, the government still tries to find other ways to limit funding.

School Budget

Universities Australia commissioned the survey. The respondents’ feedback indicated that the government would pursue “the wrong decision for Australia’s future,” Universities Australia CEO Belinda Robinson said.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s proposed reforms include a repeal of the higher education participation and partnerships programme. It would also lead to an up to 7.5 per cent increase in fees by 2021.

These non-legislative changes particularly gave the wrong impression among Australians beyond 55 years old and those from rural areas. 69 per cent of the survey’s respondents disagree with funding cuts that did not clear the parliament.

Fortunately for the university sector, the Senate has rejected Birmingham’s proposal.

This time, imposing a cap on government-funded university seems to one of the few remaining options to save money.

However, Universities Australia said that this would endanger the success of a demand-driven system for public universities. This has increased to more than 615,000 in 2016 from over 469,000 in 2009.

Government funding helps poor students gain access to higher education. Do you think the government should just let the current funding system remain in place for Australian universities?