May 11, 2018

We will all need post school education and training, we just need to fund it – IRU

Innovative Research Universities (IRU) has called on the Government to abandon its higher education funding freeze against the clear future need for more Australians, not fewer, to gain higher education qualifications.

IRU Executive Director Conor King said:

All Australians entering the workforce of the 2020s will need a post school qualification and ongoing access to further education and training.

The commitment from the Australian Labor Party to fund all Australians seeking undergraduate university education, with similar commitments to ensure access to vocational education, provides a clear basis for Australians to achieve this.

It marks a clear contrast with the Government’s position, driven by its previous fiscal challenge, that funding for higher education be constrained to 2017 levels. With the number of school leavers set to grow for the next decade that simply means more eligible Australians will miss out on the education they need.

Maintaining the proposed Ministerial allocation system will only mean a series of piece meal, post hoc expansions targeting good cases that overlap with political necessity. Each modification to the freeze permitted in the 2018 budget confirms this.

Since the 1980s Australia has pushed all our children to complete the Year 12 certificate as fundamental to each person’s future. The school system caters for all who come. Over the past two decades we have invested considerable resources to maintain school outcomes, including raising the level per student in most schools.

It is time to extend that to post school qualifications.

We should embrace the logic of the major expansions of the 1990s and early 2010s and accept that higher education and vocational education are integral parts of an effective education system that works to the advantage of all Australians.

It is not a question of efficiency.

IRU members have improved outcomes per dollar over the past decade, directing resources to the best long term mix of staffing and investment in education resources and facilities. They will continue to do so, providing the education outcomes tomorrow’s graduates require.