Bendigo Advertiser letters to the editor

December 23 2017 - 2:00am

Opinion divided on university funding

In the run up to Christmas, the government gave regional Victorians an unexpected unwanted ‘gift’: their share of a $2 billion cut to higher education funding. It’s a cut that will impact on the future workforce in our regions - the nurses, teachers, accountants, engineers, social workers and health and science professionals who all gain their qualifications locally and go on to contribute socially and economically to our communities. The latest cuts are based on capital city reasoning.  The government has looked at metropolitan lecture halls and decided they are saturated.  However, regional higher education still needs to grow; regional participation in higher education is between a half and a third of that in the big cities.  Good regional development policy says that regional campuses and universities need to grow because their communities need the skills.  Instead of investing in regional campuses – where teaching is more expensive to deliver, communities are being given a cut.  This is a bad decision with negative consequences for regional Australia. We know that over 70 per cent of graduates from our regional campuses will stay and work in regional Victoria – and this will be similar at other regional universities. We also know that our regional graduates have a profound impact on the regional economies, pumping in almost $100 million a year to the Victorian regional and rural economy. The government has slipped in these cuts, hoping no one will notice. We have noticed and we vehemently oppose a policy that will strike at the heart of our ethos of inclusion and hit our regional communities hardest.

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