Voters oppose higher education funding cuts not approved by parliament, a new survey for Universities Australia shows.
The marginal seat survey also found that 63 per cent of people polled found that unspecified cuts to HE outlays “would limit access to university for all Australians.”
Sone 60 per cent of the overall sample opposed cuts without parliamentary approval to “the equity programme that supports poorer students to go to university.” This rose to 69 per cent for rural/regional voters and responders over 65. The poll was equal clear on research; with 60 per cent of the total and 67 per cent of people over 65 opposing reductions to research funding, “made without parliamentary approval.”
With the government lacking the Senate votes to pass its HE changes, which would reduce some outlays and tie other funding to performance measures, there is speculation that cabinet will make cuts that do not require parliamentary approval in the Mid-Year Economic Forecast, due before Christmas. These could include reductions to the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme and to the Australian Research Council.
“The government keeps coming up with creative new ways to cut funding to public universities, but the message from voters remains the same: it’s the wrong decision for Australia’s future,” CEO of Universities Australia Belinda Robinson said last night.
“The Senate has been crystal clear on this too and would quite rightly take a dim view of any bid to go around the legislative protections for higher education funding.”