Tudge two-steps to put unis on the back foot

Alan Tudge has set universities a challenge, get Australian students studying on campus before bringing internationals back, and only in the second half of next year for large numbers

“We are just taking one step at a time there,” the Education Minister told Tom Connell on Sky News yesterday.

But there are two steps to put universities on the backfoot. “We can do more to have students back on campus,” Mr Tudge said. That’s Australian students.

“At the end of the day, Australian students are the number one priorities of our universities, and last year, Australian students didn’t get the best of experiences, and the student experience survey results show that. I want to see the universities prioritise Aussie students. Ultimately, that’s what universities were set up for and provide them with the best possible learning experience, and in many cases that means face-to-face learning.”

As for what the absence of international students means for university finances, Mr Tudge acknowledged that commencements are down but he also pointed to last year’s “very substantial assistance” from the government for research and student places. “And I do note that most universities are still reporting surpluses,” he said.

If anybody missed the message in the budget, universities are on their own.