Uni cuts block pledge

Under the Government’s plan, $2.3 billion would be cut from higher education, which could see the University of Notre Dame lose around $9.2 million and Murdoch University $16.1 million.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said more than 400 students starting university next year would be affected.

‘Funding education is the best investment we can make for the future; we must stop these dumb cuts to our universities,’ he said.

‘In the federal seat of Fremantle, around 405 people are expected to start university next year and qualify for youth allowance.

‘These students will be hit with an additional $8400 debt because of the proposed changes to Student Start Up Scholarships, which are being replaced by loans.’

Labor’s decision to back the Greens comes after it proposed the same cuts earlier this year.

Notre Dame Vice-Chancellor Celia Hammond said hers was a strong and growing national university that had students funded by the Federal Government despite being a private university.

‘Any cut to this federal budget will affect the university’s operations,’ she said.

‘Cuts to higher education funding were announced under the previous government and at that time we began the process of deciding how best to absorb these cuts in a way that ensured we can continue to offer excellent educational opportunities to our students.

‘We appreciate that we are in challenging fiscal times, but we are pleased that Labor has reversed its position regarding the funding cuts and will now oppose the higher education savings measures. We trust that the long-term implications of these cuts will now be further debated and explored at the parliamentary level.’

Fremantle MHR Melissa Parke was pleased Labor had decided to block the higher education cuts.

‘The Labor Government nearly doubled funding to the sector, and increased student income support by 78 per cent,’ she said.

‘As a local member I was happy to help secure some key grants for Notre Dame in that time and I am worried that we’re now entering a dark period for education at all levels in this country.’

Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk said the Gonski issue had created massive uncertainty in education as well as the State Government’s own education cuts.