Submissions for the Senate inquiry into transferring the last $4bn out of the Education Investment Fund closed last night. The lobbies don’t want the dosh to disappear
The feds started trying to close the fund in 2014 (but were foiled by the Senate) with HE and research organisation consistently opposing them. Now the government wants to move the money into a disaster relief kitty, which strikes lobbies as a very bad idea indeed.
Australian Technology Network: “While an Emergency Response Fund is a sound public policy idea, it should not come at the expense of the highly successful Education Investment Fund and could be funded through other mechanisms, particularly as the Government’s fiscal position has improved and the Budget is set to return to surplus in 2019-2020.”
Group of Eight: Acknowledges government research infrastructure investments, which are, “tailored, appropriate and commensurate within identified areas of priority. However, the Go8 reminds the Senate that there is no funding for research supported by the Medical Research Future Fund. More broadly a perpetual fund, “would offer certainty for infrastructure facilities, especially research ones, including the jobs of people employed, and ensuring that investments are not compromised or wasted through discontinuation of essential capability.”
Innovative Research Universities: Argues moving the money is a distraction, from a more important issue, “the comprehensiveness of the government’s suite of programs to ensure an effective tertiary education system for the coming decade. One important element of such a system is the array of infrastructure to underpin education and research outcomes, remaining relevant to rapid development of technology.”
“The key to Australia positioning itself as an innovation driven knowledge economy, hinges on our capacity to deliver world-class education, research and innovation. The government has made clear it will not use the EIF. It needs a clear infrastructure policy that addresses where it will directly invest in institutions and to work with universities and States to ensure effective access to private investment options. Until this happens the EIF should remain in place.”