Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today announced a $150 million rescue package to support Queensland universities impacted by COVID-19 and especially safeguard thousands of jobs in regional Queensland.
The Premier said the package included a $150 million loan facility to support cash flow and protect jobs.
“Thousands of people right throughout regional Queensland rely on universities for a job. This package will help to keep all our universities open – safeguarding these jobs,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“The sector is forecasting a more than $1 billion loss in 2020, up to 4,000 jobs could be at risk.
“We’re putting the funding on the table to give certainty to the thousands of staff who rely on this sector every day.
“Queensland’s universities from Cairns to the Gold Coast will be able to apply for loans.
“Funds will be recouped by the government through a repayment program over the next five years.
“Our universities can access the loan funds so they can continue to employ staff, maintain vital on-going research projects and to keep educating local students,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
In 2019, there were close to 60,000 international Queensland university student enrolments, injecting close to $3billion into the local economy.
“When it is safe for overseas students to return here, international education will play a vital role as part of my governments plan to Unite and Recover – andour universities will be crucial to that recovery,’ Ms Palaszczuk said.
State Development Minister Kate Jones said the Universities Support Package was developed in consultation with Queensland’s vice-chancellors.
Ms Jones said the universities were a Federal Government responsibility.
“But the Morrison Government has really dropped the ball when it comes to support for the universities sector,” Ms Jones said.
“For months, our universities have been crying out for support. These cries have fallen on deaf ears.
“We’re doing everything we can to pick up some of the slack to safeguard the thousands of jobs that are at risk if our universities fail.”
Queensland’s universities from Cairns to the Gold Coast will be able to apply for loans.
Funds will be recouped by the government through a repayment program over the next five years.
Today’s announcement comes after the Palaszczuk Government provided $10 million to support the state’s $3 billion international education sector.
“Close to 20,000 students have been supported through this program which was recognised recently as the by the Council of International Students Australia as the best student support initiative in 2020,” Ms Jones said.
“Before COVID-19 international education was a rapidly-growing sector of our economy,” Ms Jones said.
“This industry – and the thousands of students who support it – is vital to Queensland’s economic recovery.
“That’s why, unlike the Federal Government, we have not abandoned students who have been left stranded in Queensland – often struggling to find food or accommodation during these tough times.”