Report of the Base Funding Review

The base funding review report is a significant analysis of the complex questions about how best to support high quality education in our universities. The IRU is considering the report in detail to understand all its proposals for reform both individually and in operation together. This will form the basis for our engagement with the Government and other interested parties over 2012 and beyond.

Some initial analysis follows.

IRU welcomes united university Cabinet role and farewells Senator Carr

The IRU welcomes the Government’s decision to bring back together responsibility for higher education and research under the leadership of Senator Chris Evans, the Government Leader in the Senate.

Today’s announcement of the new Gillard ministry also sees Senator Carr step down as Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research following many years of advocacy for universities and their contribution to Australia’s future.

“The appointment of Senator Evans as Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research will ensure that the Government can focus on the full role of universities removing the incipient tensions emerging between teaching and learning and research policies. Universities bring together both, with each contributing to the other and the majority of academic staff concerned with both. It has been valuable to work with two portfolios since Labor took power but it will be that much easier to work with one” said Professor Barney Glover, Vice-Chancellor Charles Darwin University on behalf of the IRU.

Innovative Research Universities: A leading part of Australia’s world class university system

In his David Davies Memorial Lecture (7 December 2011) Christopher Pyne, Shadow Minister for Education, Apprenticeships and Training advances three main points to his theme of ‘excellence in universities’:

  • that we should retain a focus on universities as places for education and creation of knowledge;
  • that we should support a variety of ways in which universities achieve their missions; and
  • Australia needs to concentrate on pushing a small set of its universities into the highest level

    of international university rankings.

Cuts trim HE reforms to the bone

The Government’s two cuts to HE expenditure as part of its mid-year budget review preserve the essence of the Government’s agenda but remove one of few additional funding streams resulting from the Bradley Review.

Restoring mathematics, statistics and science units to the band 2 charge has no impact on university revenue and is unlikely to discourage many students. The IRU has argued (Base Funding Review) that all students should pay the same amount regardless of course. The change is an accidental step in this direction, but rather than being funded through reduction in the band 3 charge to other students it will be used to save Government expenditure.