Feds can’t leave higher education funding to states

The Victorian Government’s $350 million funding package for universities provides solid support to the higher education workforce at a time of deep crisis, the National Tertiary Education Union said today.

The investment will support jobs at Victorian universities through a new fund to support applied research, jobs and capital works. It also allows universities to defer payroll tax.

More than $4.5 billion in revenue has vanished from Australian universities since the COVID-19 crisis hit due to a collapse in enrolments, putting up to 30,000 jobs at risk.

NTEU National President, Dr Alison Barnes, said the Victorian Government’s contribution was a positive step and highlighted the inaction of the Commonwealth Government.

“Premier Dan Andrews has laid solid foundations to support university jobs as our sector confronts its worst ever crisis,” Dr Barnes said.

“It is gratifying to see a leader recognise the crisis confronting the university workforce and take action. Livelihoods and careers are in danger of being completely derailed. The best thing universities can do is sign up to the job protection framework.

“While Premier Andrews’ commitment is significant, a state government can only go so far in replacing the $4.5 billion that has melted away from Australian universities.

“University funding is the domain of the Federal Government, which has been completely missing in action. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan has failed to adequately support universities or include university employees in the JobKeeper program.

“This inaction is reckless and self-defeating. Australia’s globally recognised COVID-19 response is built on the effort of inspired teaching and ground breaking research at universities across the nation. While the Federal Government has provided hundreds of billions in support to many pockets of industry and the workforce, it is starving universities of the resources they need.

“The Commonwealth must recognise the critical role universities have played training the medical professionals on the front line of this pandemic, or fostering world-leading research into a COVID-19 vaccine. This pandemic will end and when it does, the nation’s universities need to resume teaching and researching to serve the public interest.”

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