University of Melbourne responds to Labor's higher education White Paper
Media Release, Friday 21 July 2006
The University of Melbourne has welcomed the more flexible approach to the way Australia’s universities would be funded and organised outlined in the ALP’s White Paper on Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis says the White Paper released today by Shadow Education Minister Jenny Macklin makes a substantial contribution to the policy debate.
Professor Davis said the introduction of a funding compact – with four streams of funding - recognizes diversity and difference in universities and would help Australia’s higher education system provide greater choice for students.
“In a funding first for universities in Australia, the White Paper proposes funding for knowledge transfer activities. This is important to the University of Melbourne where knowledge transfer is a key element of our Growing Esteem strategy.”
Professor Davis noted the Labor package also proposes much greater flexibility in how publicly-supported places are distributed, including between high and low cost disciplines and between undergraduate and postgraduate. Importantly, it allows for a reduction in total student numbers.
“It is also welcome to see that the White Paper acknowledges the University of Melbourne’s move to the Melbourne Model with professional graduate degrees, and considers extending student income support to postgraduates where a Masters level qualification is needed for professional registration.
Professor Davis noted that some philosophical differences between the Labor and the Government remain. “The White Paper maintains Labor’s opposition to full-fee paying places for domestic undergraduate students, though it offers compensation for the loss of income. In 2005, the University of Melbourne earned an additional $21.4 million in full-fee domestic undergraduate fees.
“On the other hand, universities have experienced a steady decline in Commonwealth funding per student over the past 30 years and Labor is now proposing a significant boost in their base funding. Universities will need to see whether this actually means an increase in current funding per student.”