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New ministers must bring coherence and stability back to university funding, says IRU

The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) group has welcomed the announcement of Dan Tehan MP and Karen Andrews MP as the new Ministers for Education and Training; and the new Minister for Industry, Science and Technology respectively.

Both ministers are well-placed to support high-quality research and education in Australia’s universities, the IRU has said, but will first need to restore coherence to higher education funding as a top priority.

That should include halting the Turnbull Government’s drift towards “special deals” negotiated with individual universities.

Instead the IRU – along with most of the higher education sector – argues for a return to demand-driven funding, whereby universities are supported to educate all students they enrol and teach.

Both ministers represent regional electorates so will have a good understanding of how universities can open up opportunities across Australia through teaching and research that stimulate local economies by connecting them to the world.

Dan Tehan is the MP for Wannon in south-west Victoria while Karen Andrews is the MP for McPherson in southern Queensland.

The IRU also puts on record its appreciation to former Education Minister Simon Birmingham for his work in the role.

IRU Executive Director Conor King said:

“The IRU welcomes both new ministers and hopes to have constructive meetings with them in coming months.”

“A new ministerial team provides new hope the Government will instigate some much-needed coherence and stability around university funding, which needs to be a top priority for the higher education side of the brief.”

“IRU universities want a fair and transparent system and to make sure no Australians are excluded from university through lack of Government funding.”

“The IRU is grateful to former Education Minister Simon Birmingham for all his work in the role. Despite not always agreeing with his policy decisions we always had a good relationship and constructive dialogue with him and his office.”