May 9, 2018

IRU response to Budget 2018

The IRU has welcomed the additional funding for research announced in the 2018 Budget – but says it is disappointed with new measures to take money from higher education providers.

In response to last night’s budget, IRU Executive Director Conor King said:

“The Budget provides some useful new initiatives, particularly in research, but unfortunately leaves in place the Government’s freeze on universities.

“The new charges imposed on universities for students’ access to HELP loans – as well as the full cost of TEQSA reaccreditation – are mean-spirited and pointless. This will certainly raise uni expenditure on students but the additional value for students will be zero.”

IRU response to various Budget measures affecting higher education

  • Investing $1.9 billion into major research infrastructure will allow us to begin to implement the 2016 roadmap. The new areas of spending for the Medical Research Future Fund confirm its potential to improve the translation of health and medical research outcomes. They are significant steps to maintaining Australia’s world quality research system.
  • The university Engagement and Impact submissions will show hundreds of examples of how research stimulates innovation in industry and community. Yet the Government passed up the opportunity to tie industry research and development more effectively to Australia’s research capability.
  • The Government’s head economic, innovation and science advisors comprehensively argued for a higher tax rebate where business engages with universities. Ratchetting the incentive by the proportion of the business associated with research and development could prove useful – yet the overall saving emphasises reducing the tax expenditure not increasing innovative outcomes.
  • The cross-state prospect of a Murray Darling medical school seems to have been too hard to conceive. Instead the traditional linking of state based partners to drive up the number of medical students outside the big cities will improve the spread of future medical practitioners. La Trobe University and Western Sydney University are pleased to be part of this network.
  • Additional sub bachelor and enabling places in regional areas are important to lead students into subsequent bachelor education, should those places be available.
  • The IRU is disappointed the Government plans to universities for students’ access to HELP loans, which will cost to higher education providers around $10 million per year. Universities will also be hit with the full cost of seven yearly TEQSA reaccreditation.