Call for $6bn uni rainy day fund

The NTEU calls for a Higher Education Secure Future Fund, “to create secure and permanent jobs that provide quality teaching and research”

This is the peak proposal chosen by members in a National Tertiary Education Union survey of what should be in the O’Kane Accord.

The fund would be governed according to the Commonwealth’s Future Fund Board of Guardians with annual allocations made by representatives of universities, staff and student organisations, It would be a “rainy day” resource “to support the sector during periods of sustained and deep sector-wide crisis.”

The NTEU proposes the Commonwealth should kick-in $500m to start the fund, with universities paying 10 per cent of operating surpluses, or 5 per cent with matching government contributions. Alternatively the government could levy institutions international student income.

“It is reasonable that the public expect a small share of surpluses be applied to national priorities and  sector security now, rather than be fully retained as discretionary investment funds for unspecified future purposes,” the union asserts.

The NTEU presents an investment example, where the fund accumulates $6bn in capital between now and 2035.

Other recommendations to the Accord include

* cutting casual and fixed term contracts by half over five years, to create continuing employment of 77 per cent

* a national student ombudsman

* “make TEQSA act as a regulator, not as a facilitator”

* guidelines for executive pay in-line with “community standards”

* update indexation so funding matches inflation