Opinion: University and TAFE the targets of Federal Budget

The federal budget handed down in May was full of many glaring failures. Including no investment in renewable energy, but instead money being poured into hydrogen production hubs (which themselves are not green if they are not powered by renewable energy) and developing ‘low’ emissions technology. The irony being, what the purpose is of tackling the effects of climate change if the goal is not to reach net-zero emissions but just ‘low’ emissions?
Equally as relevant to the students of Australia receiving a higher-education as the effects of climate change, though, is the massive budget cuts to both university and TAFE. Universities funding is to be cut by close to 10%, meanwhile TAFE funding is being cutting by 24% by the Federal Government. In real terms, it is a decline of hundreds of millions of dollars towards higher-education across the country, the burden of which will be placed on students and staff.
Yet, by its own admission, there are record numbers of Australians seeking further education in the country’s universities. The impact this will have on a sector that already lost 17,000 jobs will be stark, and as students while our own jobs won’t be on the line because of the massive budget cuts, the quality of our education will be. The flow-on effects will be the same of those we have already experienced; an undue burden being placed on tutors and lecturers to make up for the loss in funding, leading to poorer outcomes.
Last year when the Morrison Government doubled the costs of certain humanities courses and, in turn, reduced the cost for certain STEM-related courses, they attempted to pit student against student. Still, the student body resisted these measures, fee hikes did not match the fee reductions in STEM courses, thus revealing it to be a covert net increase on student fees. Now with the cuts revealed in the current budget, all students and all staff can and should stand in opposition to them.
The cuts to Universities and TAFE would after all hurt poorer and working class students more, while the Liberal Party’s loyal base among the rich will be mostly fine. Cuts to universities will equal the loss of jobs, cutting wages and benefits and increasing university student fees.
You would think that after the hard work that was put into developing a vaccine by Australian universities, including our own, that the Morrison Government would come to learn the important of a well-funded education system. Except it seems that they are instead being punished with millions of dollars in cuts, rather than the millions of dollars in increased funding that they need and deserve.
Perhaps if we already have a robust, full-funded higher education system, Australia could have developed one of the first vaccines in the entire world. But that is only theoretical, and they will always be theoretical so long as continuous budgets slash University and TAFE funding.

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