Business

Universities fear freeze on grants

THE university sector has hit out at "ever-diminishing budget certainty" and fears a Commonwealth freeze on grants for higher education in the lead-up to the Federal Government's Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

Higher education group Universities Australia voiced its concerns about the sector's ability to plan and invest, on Wednesday, with doubt plaguing the voracity of the Federal Government's forward estimates.

Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said a "short-term, stop-go approach to funding and public investment" was becoming an increasingly alarming feature of the modern budget process.

As the government continues to look for savings, in the lead-up to the release of the MYEFO, Ms Robinson said the stop-go approach was also "seriously eroding confidence in the policy-making process".

"Clearly, universities are worried about this particular MYEFO process, but there is a deeper issue around the recent and concerning trend towards ever diminishing budget certainty," she said.

"Unfortunately, forward estimates are becoming progressively meaningless and funding predictability a thing of the past."

Ms Robinson, as CEO of UA, represents 39 Australian universities.

As part of the traditional budget process, lobbyists and interest groups usually get one chance to pitch their ideas for funding allocation to the government, early each calendar, in the lead-up to budget negotiations.

But Ms Robinson said this practice was now changing, putting everything up for grabs not just during budget submission periods, but also every six months through the MYEFO.

"Universities, like the rest of the economy, understand that public budgets are tight." she said.

"Surely though, it is the responsibility of governments to plan for the longer term and ensure a greater level of budget equilibrium can be achieved."

Ms Robinson said universities needed long lead times for budgets, to ensure higher education centres had certainty for future investments.

During Senate estimates this week, numerous budgetary freezes were revealed across many sectors, including a $150 million "pause" on Cooperative Research Centres revealed on Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, no matter the outcome from MYEFO, the freeze is already causing damage as universities move to backtrack on recruitment and investment commitments that they can no longer afford," Ms Robinson said.

"By freezing grants, and having the spectre of entire programs being cut, the government is sending the worrying message that you cannot trust its announcements to deliver what is promised."

Response was sought from the Treasurer's office, but has not yet been received. 

Topics:  federal government, grants, univeristy



Council secures $100,000 for public projects

JAZZ UP YOUR IDEA: The Jumpers and Jazz in July committee was one of the recipients of last year's Regional Arts Development Fund grants.

$100,000 in arts fund up for grabs on the Southern Downs.

New bridge honours cherished Southern Downs resident

Signs for the newly named bridge will now be installed with the cost to be funded from the bridge budget.

The recently constructed Tummaville Rd bridge has been named.

Bali flight chaos: What you need to know today

Tourists are finding themselves caught in Bali, or unable to fly, after a volcanic ash cloud developed over the Indonesian island.

Jetstar was forced to cancel seven flights on Tuesday

Local Partners

9000 reasons to support our community clubs

Community clubs are good at what they do. They are not so good at telling the world about what they do, as Clubs Queensland CEO Doug Flockhart explains.


Katy Perry gets naked to encourage people to vote

Katy Perry in Funny Or Die sketch

Katy Perry has stripped naked for a comedy video

Jogging Tom Hanks crashes wedding in Central Park

Tom Hanks stopped for a selfie with this bride and groom

MOVIE REVIEW: Storks delivers family fun

A scene from the movie Storks.

ANIMATION can be hit or miss but when it hits, it hits hard.

Nick 'the snake' to call the shots on Survivor jury

Australian Survivor contestant Nick Iadanza.

LATEST evictee is out of the game but will still have a say.

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber split

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have split after 11 years together.

Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Rural properties expected to soar as investors seek income

Rural properties are should become highly sought after

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.