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Why USQ can't support Federal Government's uni reforms

USQ interim vice-chancellor Janet Verbyla.
USQ interim vice-chancellor Janet Verbyla. Contributed

USQ's interim vice-chancellor has rejected the Federal Government's higher education reforms in their current form, criticising a lack of consultation with universities.

Professor Janet Verbyla said changes announced by Education Minister Simon Birmingham a week before the May 9 Federal Budget, including withholding government funding and pushing down the debt repayment threshold for students, lacked complexity and clarity on what they meant for the sector.

She joined a chorus of vice-chancellors across Australia who rejected the Federal Government's changes this week, with Universities Australia calling the reforms a "double whammy" on students.

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"There has definitely been a feeling that there's been a lack of broad consultation," Prof Verbyla said.

"The other things that are currently very problematic include the fact there are significant lacks of deep detail around some of the changes that are proposed.

"For instance, there is a proposal that 7.5% of the government contribution to us teaching Australian students, which is called the CGS funding, will be held back and only allocated based on some performance metrics.

"There's no details on what the performance metrics are, how much reporting you'll have to do, and quite crucially will you get it a year after or will it be lagged?

"In their current form I don't support them."

The reforms, which include a rise in fees for student of up to $3600 a year, now sit in front of the Senate committee for examination and will not be officially explained for months.

Prof Verbyla said universities could not rule out redundancies to staff because of lack of clarity.

"We've had very well-established universities recently mention the word redundancies," she said.

"We don't know the details, so every possible outcome is on the table."

Topics:  federal budget 2017 federal government simon birmingham toowoomba usq


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