Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Fat cat universities to get reduced Federal funding

UNIVERSITY funding will be slashed by hundreds of millions of dollars in the May Budget after a report found they receive enough revenue to cover the cost of teaching most degrees.

Student fees are likely to rise and graduates will likely be required to pay back their loans faster under the sweeping changes, Fairfax Media reports.

Universities will reportedly face new efficiency measures of between 2 and 3 per cent to be phased in over a number of years.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham will foreshadow the education package to be announced at next week’s Budget at a higher education and business event in Canberra tonight.

It’s understood he will point to a report by Deloitte Access Economics which shows universities receive enough funding, through government and student fees, to cover the costs of teaching most degrees.

The report shows the average cost of delivery per student grew 9.5 per cent between 2010 and 2015, while funding per student grew by 15 per cent.

Universities received $19,285 per student place in 2016.

Government figures show the average cost of an undergraduate place is $16,000 and for postgraduates $20,000.

The government acknowledges funding in some areas — such as dentistry and veterinary studies — didn’t cover the cost of delivery but says the vast majority of courses could be delivered cheaper than the level of funding provided.

Senator Birmingham says this showed the record level of funding for universities had grown beyond the cost of their operations.

“Universities have a vital role to play in Australia but many mums and dads are feeling the pinch of tighter budgets at home and want to know their tax dollars are being used effectively and efficiently,” he said on Monday. “Universities need to invest taxpayer money judiciously and with appropriate public scrutiny and accountability.”

Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek has slammed the proposed efficiency measures.

The government should not be “slashing” money from education to repair the budget, Ms Plibersek said.

She also questioned the Deloitte report’s credibility.

“Isn’t it surprising that when the government commissions a company to do a report to justify cuts to university funding and increases to student costs that the report comes out saying we should cut university funding and increase student costs,” she said.

Ms Plibersek also laughed off suggestions Labor had promised similar efficiency measures, saying funding for education had nearly doubled to $14 billion under the Rudd and Gillard governments.

Universities have tried to pre-empt any funding cuts with an analysis the sector says shows it has contributed $3.9 billion to the budget bottom line in recent years. The sector’s peak body says there is no capacity to absorb further cuts.


Friedman Liberty conference welcomes Ross Cameron, Mark Latham

Mark Latham stood at the back of the room in jacket and jeans listening intently to a workshop on "alternative media". In a little room above Sydney's University of Technology, a group of YouTube commentators - who usually hide behind pseudonyms - had come to show their faces and share their ideas for taking on the mainstream.

The mission, said moderator James Fox Higgins, was to "make libertarianism sexy". The men - and men they all were - on the panel seemed to agree their cause suffered from an image problem: one of oddball keyboard warriors camped out in their underwear in their parents' basements.

"Us libertarians, we're not that cool," admitted Dylan Thomas, known online as "truediltom". Perhaps to prove the point, Sven Lowe - who works on YouTube channel The Rational Rise with Mr Higgins - said he consumed "eight hours of YouTube content a day".

The Friedman Liberty Conference brought together leading libertarians from Australia and overseas for a three-day freedom fest, extolling the virtues of guns, drug legalisation and eliminating taxes.

But it was also a platform for self-styled "outsiders" of the far-right to step out of the shadows, culminating in a show-stopping double-feature late on Sunday with Mr Latham, the former Labor leader, and Ross Cameron, the former federal MP who on Saturday lost his bid to rejoin the Liberal Party.

Mr Cameron, who made headlines in February when he headlined a far-right fundraiser and called the Liberal Party a "gay club", continued his crusade against the Herald, which he accused of photographing him unflatteringly.

Addressing the Herald's photographer in the room, Mr Cameron said: "His job is to take 100 photos of Mark Latham and Ross Cameron and make them look like f---wits."

Then Mr Cameron raised his arm into a Hitler salute and yelled, to whoops of approval: "Mate, if you want to come down now I'll give you the Nazi salute and you can f--- off to the pub."

The bias and failings of the mainstream media were a preoccupation of many speakers at the conference. But it was Mr Latham's critique of "identity politics" and the modern Labor Party which stirred the crowd to rapturous applause.

Mr Latham, who lost the 2004 election to John Howard, accused Labor of drifting from a pro-market, anti-establishment ethos to embrace political correctness and identity politics in a race to the Left with the Greens.

"The Labor Party's goal posts have moved much more than my position," he said. "They've abandoned meritocracy. Modern Labor is killing itself with the own-goal of identity politics.

"I've got an IQ of three figures and I'm not going to fall for this bullshit," he said to cheers.

Mr Latham, who has been shunned by most contemporary Labor figures and also fired from numerous commentary gigs including most recently Sky News, appeared to have found a new home at the libertarian love-in.

"That's the other thing I love about a libertarian conference – no matter what I say, you can't kick me out," he said.

The conference concluded with a screening of men's rights movement documentary The Red Pill, which Mr Latham said he found "dull".


Barnaby Joyce says Australia has 'moral obligation' to supply coal to poorer nations

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has defended the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland, saying Australia has a "moral obligation" to help poorer nations keep their lights on.

The controversial Carmichael mine would be Australia's largest, with Indian company Adani expecting to export 60 million tonnes of coal per year, much of it to India.

Sparring between Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Q&A host Tony Jones were relieved by the presence of British satirist Armando Iannucci.

Environmental fears, including concerns from graziers that the mine has been granted an unlimited licence to use water, have swirled around the proposal, leading major banks including Westpac and the Commonwealth to distance themselves from it.

Speaking on the ABC's panel program Q&A on Monday night, Mr Joyce would not rule out the government stepping in to provide direct finance to Adani to ensure the mine goes ahead.

"I'm not going to start answering that question, but I suspect not," Mr Joyce said. "The issue is the infrastructure that surrounds it. We're happy to look at that, and we are doing that.

"We've said we're prepared to support the rail link, and we look forward to [it]."

The government has proposed loaning the mining conglomerate $1 billion from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to build a rail line that would transport the coal to ports.

However, the company may have ruled itself ineligible for the criteria of the loan, after declaring such an investment would not be "make or break" for the project.

Mr Joyce said he did not want to create two classes of people - those who can afford power, and those who can't - by refusing the mine.

"I'm going to be a complete economic pragmatist. We have to make sure this economy works. We have to export dollars. One of our largest exports is coal," he said.

"We have to realise we have a moral responsibility to other people in other nations to keep their lights on. They have their right to exist in the 21st century like we do. We can't sort of lord it over people and say 'we prescribe a way of life for you that you can't afford'."

Mr Joyce said the mine would ultimately lead to lower emissions than if people in India used local coal.

"If we decide that we don't want to use Adani - the coal from the Galilee coalfields - to help poor people in India be able to turn on their lights like we do, they're still going to get coal. They're just going to get coal that's 60 percent less efficient, from India," he said.

"So you're actually going to increase your carbon emissions."

Mr Joyce was also quizzed on climate change. He acknowledged human activity had an impact on the phenomenon, but said it was not responsible for "every climatic catastrophe".

"Of course, if human activity is putting greenhouse gases - and it does - into the atmosphere, then of course that has an effect on the climate," he said.

"They [activists] always take the next step and say 'that cyclone was climate change, that bushfire was climate change', everything. And it's not. It's part of the natural path of what happens in the climate all the time, for which part of the effect are greenhouse gases."

Fellow panellist Brian Schmidt, the vice chancellor of Australian National University, said we must take steps over the next 30 years to lessen the impact of climate change.

"You are correct that often any little thing is ascribed to climate change," said Mr Schmidt, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 2011. "But as climate change becomes bigger and bigger, more and more things really are going to relate to that.

"People have, I think, this false belief that it's only going to be two degrees [of warming]. It's only going to be two degrees if we actually really start changing quickly. It could be five, six, seven - we don't know, it's hard to calculate when it becomes really big."


Turnbull announces schools funding boost

MALCOLM Turnbull has announced schools funding will be increased by 75 per cent over a decade.

The Prime Minister has also announced a second major report into schools funding — Gonksi 2.0 — which will be chaired by the architect of the last major report, David Gonski.

Schools funding will grow from $17.5 billion this year to $22.1 by 2021.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the reforms would end “ancient sweetheart deals” with certain schools for the first time ever.

Based on recommendations in the first Gonski report, the Government will provide 80 per cent of Gonski base for non-government schools, up from 77 per cent currently.

It will also lift the contributions for government schools from 17 per cent to 20 per cent by 2020.

Speaking alongside the Prime Minister in Sydney, Mr Gonski said he was very pleased the government had adopted the recommendations for needs-based funding.

He will report to government by December.

Senator Birmingham said the Commonwealth would work with the state governments on implementing the “better fairer” funding model.

He said 24 schools across Australia would experience “negative growth” over the decade.

Mr Turnbull made calls to state premiers today to brief them on the reforms, while Mr Birmingham spoke to Catholic schools.

He made the announcement at a joint press conference in Sydney with Mr Birmingham and Mr Gonski this afternoon.

It comes hot on the heels of a major announcements about higher education funding last night.

Minister Birmingham announced the government would be introducing an efficiency dividend which will effectively mean a $2.8 billion funding cut for universities.

Under the changes, students will be required to pay back loans earlier and degrees will be more expensive.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

No comments: