Information for Students on Proposed Government Changes to Higher Education Funding
Important changes have been announced by the Government to Higher Education funding, which if implemented would allow Alphacrucis and other private colleges to significantly reduce their fees. The proposal is that Government funding of undergraduate students currently restricted to universities be extended to students of all accredited providers, including Alphacrucis. The idea is to introduce fair competition, which would improve outcomes for both university and private college students. Other announced changes include deregulating higher education fees, increasing the interest rates on student loans, and extending funding to sub-degree (e.g. Diploma) students.
However the universities and the university union the NTEU have launched a well-funded (and in my view highly misleading) campaign against these changes. They want to maintain the current university monopoly, or if they cannot then ensure that private providers are funded at a lesser rate than universities, which would probably mean that private providers will not accept the government funding at the rates offered. The universities and NTEU have full-time media officers and are spending lots of money on their campaign to ensure nothing changes. The most powerful voices however are those of students, who the system should be serving.
The announced changes are still to be passed by the Senate and their fate there depends on the position of the Palmer United Party and Independent Senators.
If you want to look at the actual recommendations and the arguments behind the changes the Kemp-Norton review of higher education funding is available at http://education.gov.au/report-review-demand-driven-funding-system. The Council of Private Higher Education website discusses the changes.
If you think that extending funding to students of private colleges like Alphacrucis is a good idea some things you could do to make this happen are:
- Spread the word to your friends.
- Raise the issue on social media and blogs or talkback radio.
- Contact your local Federal MP (especially if Liberal/National) to put your point of view and ask where he/she stands on the issue. You can find out who your local MP is at the Parliament of Australia website.
Contact the Minister for Education Christopher Pyne by email C.Pyne.MP@aph.gov.au or phone (02) 6277 7350.
Be positive and specific in your comments.
- Contact Palmer United Party and Independent Senators to express your view.
It would be good to counter some of the some of the misleading claims the universities have made: One is that private colleges are all shonky, offer poor quality education, and do not deserve government funding. Is this true of Alphacrucis? You can point out that Alphacrucis and other private colleges which would receive funding are accredited by the government watchdog TEQSA. Another misleading claim is that government support should not go to for-profit colleges. You can point out that Alphacrucis and many others are not-for-profit and associated with churches. In any case I see no reason why for-profit colleges should not be funded if properly accredited. The universities are also arguing that if private colleges do receive funding, it should be less than universities get, because they do not undertake research or community engagement. This is not true of Alphacrucis and you can provide examples. Colleges like Alphacrucis also educate students in a small and supportive environment, with good results, though this is more costly that the mass low quality approach of many universities. So there are reasons why colleges like Alphacrucis should receive more rather than less funding than universities.
I am happy to provide any further information on the proposed changes. How much fees would fall at Alphacrucis is a matter for our Council, but I expect the savings for students would be substantial if we are funded on the same basis as universities.
Professor Paul Oslington, Dean of Business, Alphacrucis College.
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