3 December 2014
RUN urges the Senate to pass the new Higher Education and Research Reform Bill early in 2015.
The Chair of the Regional Universities Network (RUN), Professor Peter Lee, said that the new bill introduced in the House of Representatives today shows that many of the issues raised by RUN have been listened to by the Senate and Government.
“The new bill is a big step in the right direction and we acknowledge the efforts of the cross-bench Senators and the Government in progressing this,” Professor Lee said.
“While the proposed structural adjustment fund to assist universities in transition is helpful, RUN advocates an ongoing fund for universities operating in thin, regional markets.
“Adequate funds must be provided for this task. $100 m per year will address the issue of universities operating in regional markets and put downward pressure on prices, however additional funding will be required to address the research efforts of research-intensive regional higher education providers.
“We are very pleased that the Commonwealth will fund new scholarships within the Higher Education and Participation Program for universities with high proportions of low SES students. We look forward to understanding in more detail how this will work. RUN has argued that the Commonwealth Scholarships scheme will not help regional universities raise the funding required for scholarships for regional students.
“We are delighted that the interest rate on student loans is being kept at the consumer price index. This will greatly assist many regional students.
“We also welcome the proposed threshold on the Higher Education Participation Program to ensure that universities with high proportions of low SES students get maximum benefit from the fund,” Professor Lee said.
“It’s not in the interest of students or universities to continue to let this issue drag on. We urge the Senate to consider and amend the new bill and to pass it early in the 2015 Parliamentary sittings.”
Contact: Dr Caroline Perkins, Executive Director, Regional Universities Network, 0408 482 736