Greens Education Spokesperson, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, has called for urgent measures to protect staff, students and the university sector from the impact of Covid-19 and similar international shocks.
The Greens are calling on the Government to immediately:
1. End the Liberal government’s funding freeze on Commonwealth Supported Places.
2. Commit to boosting funding per-Commonwealth Supported Place student by 10 percent in the upcoming budget.
3. Guarantee the jobs and income of university staff on insecure contracts during the travel ban.
Greens Spokesperson for Education, Senator Mehreen Faruqi said:
“The Coronavirus crisis has exposed just how vulnerable the Government has left our tertiary education system.
“We’re in this mess because successive governments have cut university funding, leaving them reliant on international students fees to fund their education and research.
“An end to the funding freeze and a 10% boost to uni funding in the next budget are the immediate steps required to steady the ship and protect students and staff.
“With the stroke of a pen, the minister could lift their punitive funding freeze and allow universities to staunch the impact of Coronavirus by immediately enrolling additional domestic students.
“A serious funding boost will shield unis from the shock of international crises like the Coronavirus by reducing their dependence on international student fees. With extra funding, we can eliminate the uncertainty of our fragile system so unis can improve learning and teaching conditions for decades to come.
“The government has allowed casualisation and insecure work to run rampant at unis, to the detriment of students’ learning, staff well-being and research excellence. The Government must step in to ensure academics don’t lose teaching? hours or research capacity as a result of the Coronavirus travel ban.
“Reports that universities will use up their financial reserves and postpone construction of research infrastructure to survive this crisis are deeply concerning. Instead of forcing unis to weather the storm, the Government must show some leadership and take this chance to set the sector up for a better future.
“We hope to see all international students who were planning on studying in Australia this year on campus very soon.”