The final budget outcome for 2017-18 is out. Higher education spending was $9.606bn, $21m under planned expenditure. The Commonwealth outlayed $1.733bn on VET, $113m below the budgeted sum. At $2.842bn student assistance was $302m under the budgeted outlay. “General research” blew out, by$178m, to $3.009bn. What the numbers means depends on who’s doing the interpreting.