Universities Australia chair Margaret Gardner has set the tone for the peak body’s annual conference, with a full-throated call for “policymakers” to restore the demand driven system by ending the government’s funding freeze.
“The argument we make is that this funding freeze has effectively hit pause on the demand driven system – and we call for its restoration,” she told CMM last night.
At the National Press Club today Professor Gardner will call the freeze a “cap on opportunity,” which is “our greatest insurance policy against despair and disaffection.”
She will point to Brexit and the election of President Trump as examples of the “disaffection and division” increased inequality can cause.
Professor Gardner will warn the freeze imposed in December, and its permanent after-effect mean, “there will be people who wished for and would benefit from a university education who will miss out.”
She points to the “bold advance” that was uncapping university places, adding that it was followed by large per centage growth in enrolments of students with a disability and from low SES, rural and regional and Indigenous backgrounds.
“This expansion of opportunity is why we cannot accept the freeze on university funding,” she will say.
“Universal access is the foundation of hope and opportunity for anyone who does not start out in life with every advantage, or who comes to our shores, with hope of a better life.”