Federal Budget aftermath - let's build power!

Yesterday’s 2023 federal Budget prioritises the university review process (The University Accord) over the upcoming year and we’d like to highlight its impact on our institutions and how we can build power in having our voices heard through the Accord process.

The Accord provides an opportunity to deal with the challenges higher education workers currently face and to put our sector on a rock-solid footing for decades to come with secure, well-paid jobs that deliver the highest quality teaching and research. 
Our sector has faced significant challenges over the last decade, including insecure employment, undermined job security and endemic wage theft.  

This is our opportunity to have an impact on the Accord panel as the voice of the sector.

NTEU members have told us that these are the issues that matter.

Secure and valued higher education employment.
Higher education funding reform.
Governance and regulation.
Sustainability and equitable access to higher education

To ensure the Accord delivers for staff, students and the Australian society, we invite you to sign a pledge of support for the recommendations in our submission.  Share this pledge with friends, colleagues and family as every signature will help to build power to influence the Accord and result in better universities.

Sign our Pledge of Support here.

The NTEU policy team have unpacked the Federal Budget and what this means for Higher Education and TAFE.

There are minimal measures in the Budget relating to higher education with some of the new expenditure offset by savings elsewhere in the education portfolio.  That said, Vocational Education and Training (VET) has been substantially targeted with new funding to support 300,000 additional fee free student places (subject to state agreement) and VET/TAFE orientated programs under the Government’s Jobs and Skills initiative.

It is clear that the Government is deferring any reforms around Higher Education to the Universities Accord process. In doing so, they are increasing expectations for the Accord to deliver solutions to ongoing issues in the sector.

Budget 2023-24 – Key Measures  
The main focus is on skills and training, with an additional $4.1b over five years to support the National Skills Agreements.  This includes an additional $414m (versus the October Budget) to support an extra 300,000 fee-free TAFE and VET places from 2024.

Also announced was $436.4m over four years to support the redesign of the Skills for Education and Employment program. This new funding aims to widen access to those over the age of 15 to improve their literacy, numeracy and digital skills, and will be open to providers of foundation courses in TAFE and VET, including adult and community education providers.

Higher Education 
There is $127.3m to fund 4,000 additional university places over the next four years to increase graduate numbers from STEM disciplines and to support the AUKUS program.  Of these, 800 will be allocated to universities in South Australia, with the remaining places to be allocated nationally.

From July 1 the government will grant an additional two years of post-study work rights to international students completing “eligible” courses.

International student visa holders will have the cap on working hours reinstated following the relaxation of this restriction during the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, the limit on working hours (during semester only) will be increased to 48hrs per fortnight.  Students working in aged care will be exempt from this change until December 31, 2023.

There is $17.7m over four years to fund the Higher Education Disability Support Program – which aims to help students with disability succeed in higher education including through equipment and materials purchase.  However, this measure is offset by savings made in abolishing the National Disability Contact Officer program, which worked across VET and HE.

There is $91.3m over four years to fund a redesign of psychology higher education pathways, including 500 psychology post-graduate placements and 500 one-year internships.  This will also include 2,000 supervisor training sessions and a redesign of psychology higher education pathways.

Student Income support
There is a small improvement to student income support, with youth allowance, AUSTUDY and ABSTUDY to increase by $40 per fortnight and rent assistance will increase by 15% from Sept 20, 2023.


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