Election Results – wins/losses for continuing education

PUBLISHED18 October 2021

Education is shaping up to be an important issue for the 2016 Federal election. Mr Bill Shorten has accused the coalition of viewing education as a cost instead of “an investment in every Australian’s future”.The Abbott Government’s 2014 budget brought about a 10-year, $30-billion cut to education funding. The Federal Government plans to pump an extra $1.2 billion into the nation’s schools, giving the states funding certainty until 2020, but this still falls short of Labor’s commitment to fully fund the Gonski plan. Labor is promising to spend an extra $4.5 billion on the nation’s schools between 2018 and 2020, fully funding the Gonski agreements it struck when last in office.

“We will fight this as an education election. We will put the funding on the table to make sure every teacher in Australia gets the recognition and the support to back up what they do every day.” – Mr Bill Shorten

The total spend on education in this year’s budget is A$33.7 billion. This includes an agreement to fund schools to the tune of $1.2 billion between 2018 and 2020, but is contingent on education reform from the states and territories in all sectors. There will also be $118.2 million over two years for students with a disability, the funding targeted to schools with the greatest need.

There are also cuts of $152.2 million to the Higher Education Participation Program, which funds universities to bring in students from the lowest socio-economic levels. There will also be a cut of $20.9 million to the Promotion of Excellence in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Program.

Continuing education is also in doubt. Senator Birmingham had confirmed the Government remained committed to finding savings in the education budget, following the release of figures from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) predicting a blow-out in the levels of student debts. The Coalition had previously proposed legislation that would allow universities to set their own fees, and this had sparked concerns that the cost of some degrees could rise to $100,000. The Federal Opposition said the deregulation of university fees could see $12 billion cut from the sector.

“Our universities do need to be able to differentiate between each other, to innovate on the world stage, and that of course does require a certain degree of latitude for them in terms of how they structure their course and how they finance their courses to some extent.” – Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

However, the government has pushed back introducing any major changes to higher education a further year to 1 January 2018. The Budget Paper No. 2 released in May said: “Higher education funding arrangements for 2017 will be in line with currently legislated arrangements. The Government will also not proceed with the deregulation of university fees announced in the 2014-15 budget.” For students, this means there will be no change for a further year, and for existing students it should mean no change in what they pay while they finish their degrees.

The Federal Government also has plans to overhaul university entry scores as it tries to improve transparency in the system. They will be considering whether universities should reveal the minimum, median and top marks for all students accepted into courses. These changes would help inform students about whether they can successfully complete their degrees.

“Transparency is absolutely the key to ensuring that students make informed choices and that universities are accountable for who they are taking in to their university programs and the calibre of the students that they’re taking.” – Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

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