The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations has today condemned the Federal Opposition for confirming that they would not repeal funding cuts to the higher education sector, despite their intention to reverse the Gonski education reforms that the funding is intended to contribute to.
“Last week, we described the Government’s cuts – taking $2.3bn from the Higher Education sector to help fund the Gonski education reforms – as robbing Peter to pay Paul,” said CAPA President, Meghan Hopper.
“Now, we see that the Coalition is simply robbing students – and then running away with their money.”
“Tony Abbott has spent the last week condemning the Government’s decision to cut funding to higher education – but when given the chance to right this wrong he has instead made things worse,” said Ms Hopper.
“If Tony Abbott intends to rip money out of the hands of university students and staff, he must justify where he believes that money could be better used,” Ms Hopper said.
At the Universities Australia conference earlier this year, Mr Abbott told the higher education sector’s most senior representatives that “to avoid further cuts rather than to win higher funding is often the best outcome that particular sectors can hope for”.
Said Ms Hopper, “It is misleading for Tony Abbott to on the one hand stand before Universities Australia and say that the sector can hope to avoid further cuts under a Coalition Government; but to then, a mere eight weeks later, announce that his Government will make indiscriminate and unjustified cuts to higher education.”
The Coalition has also pledged to abolish the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF), the preservation of which is an election year priority for CAPA.
“Universities and postgraduate students need to start asking the tough questions of Mr Abbott if we are to determine exactly what a Coalition Government would mean for higher education,” Ms Hopper said.
“The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations asks Mr Abbott to clarify why he intends to drive students further and further into debt under a Coalition Government, with no explanation of where their hard-earned money is going,” said Ms Hopper.
“Right now, it seems like a continued race to the bottom, with neither of the major parties making higher education an election priority.”