Uni viability crucial to national recovery

Australia’s 39 universities have warned their ability to contribute to national recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic will be weakened without Government support.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the sector has been working closely with Government and appreciated the collaborative approach.

“Now it is clear that there will be a significant decline in second semester international student enrolments due to the virus, Government support is more important than ever.”

“Universities have established hardship funds to support the domestic and international students who had been affected. These funds have received thousands of applications from students who, through no fault of their own, have lost jobs due to the pandemic. We are asking the Government to join with us in supporting these students,” Ms Jackson said.

“As not-for-profit charities, we welcomed the Treasurer’s announcement about amendments to JobKeeper that would have seen most universities included. It would have backed our ability to reduce job losses.

“We are disappointed to have been excluded. We will continue to discuss support for universities with Government.”

“We are also asking Government to maintain funding levels for home-grown students, even if enrolment levels drop for a short time.”

“It is crucial universities remain viable today so they are able maximise their contribution to Australia’s economic recovery tomorrow,” Ms Jackson said.

“A conservative estimate of the revenue decline that will hit the sector is between $3 billion to $4.6 billion.”

“Universities estimate that more than 21,000 jobs are at risk in the next six months, and more after that.”

According to a Deloitte Access Economics report commissioned by UA, universities contributed $41 billion to the Australian economy and supported a total of 259,100 full-time jobs in 2018.

“Universities are vital to the economy. It is important to keep them healthy – keep producing the very graduates that we will rely on in the future.

“Recovering from this pandemic will require our best and brightest minds and every ounce of ingenuity.”

“Support from the Commonwealth and states is backing-in the recovery. For every $1 invested in higher education research and development, $5 comes back into the economy. Every dollar will count when this is over and we’re building up the economy again.”

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