Damning report reveals devastating decline of Australian universities


12 July 2023

“Whether it's funding cuts, insecure work, student debt or increasing class sizes, it's patently clear from this polling there are high levels of concern about this decades-long trajectory.”
Read the NTEU’s submission to the Universities Accord here.
Key findings:
* Federal Government funding for universities (excluding HELP) has fallen from 0.9 per cent of GDP in 1995 to 0.6 per cent of GDP in 2021 – implying a $6.5 billion reduction in funding in 2021
* On a per student basis, Commonwealth higher education funding has declined significantly in the last decade
* Since 1995, private sources of revenue have doubled as a share of university revenue: increasing from 21.7 per cent to an all-time high of 43 per cent in 2019
* Casual employment now accounts for 40 per cent of jobs at public universities
* While total employment has grown on average by 2.3 per cent per year between 1999 and 2019, casual employment has grown almost twice as fast (4.5 per cent per year) over the same period
* Average HELP debt has doubled since 2008: increasing from $12,990 to $24,771 in 2022
* Tuition fees make up 51 per cent of total funding for universities in Australia, compared to the OECD average of 22.3 per cent
Key polling insights:
* Three in four (74 per cent) of Australians are concerned about the decline in government funding with 35 per cent very concerned
* Five in six (83 per cent) Australians said they were concerned universities focus on profit at the expense of education, with 50 per cent very concerned
* 51 per cent agreed a mostly permanent faculty would provide the best university education for students
* Just 22 per cent believe there would be no difference in quality between sessional/contract and permanent staff, while only 17 per cent said mostly sessional and contract staff would be best for a student’s education. 
* 68 per cent were concerned about larger class sizes and fewer faculty per student, with 25 per cent who said they were very concerned
* 67 per cent said it costs too much to attend university, while 22 per cent said the cost was about right, and only 2 per cent said costs were too low
* 76 per cent were concerned about student debt burden, with 44 per cent very concerned
* 85 per cent agreed that any Australian with interest and pre-requisites should be able to receive a university education, regardless of their personal financial circumstances, with 47 in strong agreement

Matt Coughlan 0400 561 480

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