'No new programs': regional unis hit by federal cuts

HOPEFUL: Recent USC Gympie graduate Michelle Walker said she would be disappointed if the Federal Government's university funding freeze hurt regional students.
HOPEFUL: Recent USC Gympie graduate Michelle Walker said she would be disappointed if the Federal Government's university funding freeze hurt regional students. Scott Kovacevic

THE decision to freeze university funding for the next two years has been slammed by vocational leaders who say the Federal Government's cut will hurt regional students and jobs.

University of Sunshine Coast Vice-Chancellor Greg Hill said the cuts, which would keep university funding at 2017 levels for the next two years, would have a lasting impact.

"We'll be going into a holding pattern," Professor Hill said.

"We won't be starting any new programs.

"It's undoubtedly going to be more difficult to get a place this year."

The freeze also meant they would be unable to hire new staff, and may have to let go non-essential positions.

While he hoped Gympie's campus would not be affected "too much", there was no doubt regional universities would be hit harder than their city counterparts due to their lower enrolments.

"Why should regional areas like Gympie and regional institutions like USC get a whack over the head bigger than those in the city?" he said.

Should the freeze on federal funding for universities be lifted?

This poll ended on 12 January 2018.

Current Results

Yes, tertiary education is important to society.


No, taxpayers are spending enough money on universities.


The government should focus on funding regional universities.


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union (QNMU) acting secretary Sandra Eales also criticised the move.

"There is no doubt this freeze, decided silently in the comfort of Canberra, will directly and adversely impact the hopes, dreams and future of young people and communities throughout regional Australia," Ms Eales said.

As recent graduate from Gympie's USC campus, Michelle Walker said she would be disappointed if the cuts hurt the institution and regional students.

She said Gympie's USC campus gave many people a cheap and affordable chance to chase their dreams, and she hoped the cuts would not deter students from applying and showing their support.

A strong supporter of USC and its Gympie campus, Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien said he would be concerned "should any proposed policy changes impact on its course offerings and viability".

He planned to meet with Prof Hill, and would be happy to raise any concerns of the university with Federal Education Minister Birmingham.

However, Mr O'Brien noted that the number of places that universities can offer will still be determined by the universities themselves, and funding for teaching and learning had soared by 71 per cent between 2009-2016 and revenue per student had increased 15 per cent.

In comparison, he said student costs had only grown by 9.5 per cent.

Topics:  federal government gympie education llew o'brien university usc

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