Budget black hole

Universities Australia summed up the budget for its members last night, welcoming, “the extra $11.3 million for the 80 new Commonwealth Supported Places, commencing from 2023-24, to deliver full medical school programs at new or existing rural training locations.” And that was it – yes UA pointed to the $988.2 million over five years for research commercialisation, but that is long announced.

The Australian Academy of Technology & Engineering made similar points, welcoming tech infrastructure funding but warning that overall, the government “has missed an opportunity to make a long-term investment in supporting Australia’s technological ambitions, leaving the nation exposed to workforce shortages and an unpredictable future.”

The Australian Technology Network was way less understated.

“Australia’s economic recovery requires significant investment in human capital with nine out of ten new jobs requiring a post-secondary education. While we welcome the significant investment in vocational education and training, the Government has yet again missed an opportunity to put universities at the centre of its plans for skilling Australia,” ED Luke Sheehy said.

“With an overall decline in higher education funding in real terms, this Budget places our capacity for a high-tech, innovative and entrepreneurial Australia at risk.”

It was left to the indefatigably optimistic Group of Eight to look beyond the election. CEO Vicki Thomson warned, “almost all the initiatives announced in the Budget will require robust and well-funded universities to educate the graduates required.”

And she called on “an incoming Government” to adopt “a sovereign capability charter.”

This would, “ensure essential current and future skills, supply chains and research capacity are all accounted for before public announcement, within the financial asnd timeline parameters for major infrastructure projects from future governments.”


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