Legislation passed the Senate today to set up a new fund to finance responses to natural disasters and emergencies, with funds taken from the $3.95 billion Education Investment Fund (EIF).
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said this meant the end of the Education Investment Fund. Universities backed the creation of a new Emergency Response Fund – but closing the EIF was not the way to finance it.
“The EIF was designed to be an education fund that would finance teaching and research infrastructure to serve the nation in perpetuity – not just today or tomorrow,” she said.
“While the planned short-term matched funding of $50 million for TAFEs will be welcome, both universities and TAFEs have lost $4 billion of investment for the long-haul,” she said.
“The EIF was created to secure the future of Australia’s tertiary education sector for all generations to come,” she said.
“With its de-funding, there is now no other dedicated source of ongoing funding for investment in capital works – new classrooms and research buildings – for universities or TAFE.”
Ms Jackson said having highly trained and knowledgeable people equipped with the best technology was crucial to Australia’s preparation and response to national disasters.
“By investing in training and education, we can equip our first responders and recovery teams with better technology, research breakthroughs and practical skills to help our fellow Australians through the worst of times.”
UA thanks the Senators and MPs who spoke up for education in the Parliamentary debate.