UA pushes for funding boost, despite tight budget

Australia: PEAK group Universities Australia has argued for a lift in investment in higher education in the next federal budget pointing to our below OECD average spend as a proportion of GDP and projected returns from each dollar spent.

UA says the Australia has the fifth lowest spending government on tertiary education despite robust evidence that there are significant returns for additional funding.

Between 1995-2010, Australia was one of only seven OECD nations which saw its expenditure per student go backwards. In 2013, Australia had the fifth lowest expenditure in the OECD.

UA calls for additional funding to be made available to maintain current indexation arrangements, retain the demand-driven system and expand it to include sub-bachelors places, restart the critical research infrastructure scheme, restore funding to above 20 cents in the dollar for the indirect costs of research and reinstate the mid-career researchers scheme, Future Fellowships. It also asks the government to continue with its plan to cut red tape.

UA acknowledges the constrained budget situation, but points to evidence which shows that every additional dollar spent on tertiary education would result in a $26 boost to the economy by 2025.

"University graduates typically pay between $300,000 to $540,000 more in taxes over their lifetime. Given funding per student typically costs the government between $40,000 and $60,000 per university course, the increased taxes for government from university graduates are about eightfold higher than the upfront amount invested," the submission says.

"Given the high rates of return, which exceed both private opportunity cost of capital and the rates of return from other government projects, further investment in university education, will expand Australia's economic output, expand tax revenue resulting in long-term budget surpluses, and promote economic welfare over the long run."

- theaustralian.com.au


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