New university funding scheme 'not enough'
WHILE the Southern Cross University Lismore Vice Chancellor has welcomed a new scheme where universities will have to prove their graduates are getting jobs to secure more funding, he says the promised support is "still not enough".
Under the performance-based funding (PBF) scheme, universities will be assessed on four performance measures in order to unlock funding increases of around $80million in 2020, when the government lifts a two-year freeze on support for undergraduate place.
The measures include; graduate employment outcomes, student success, student experience and participation of indigenous, low socio-economic status, and regional and remote students.
Following a briefing on the scheme at a meeting with Mr Tehan in Wollongong last Wednesday, Professor Adam Shoemaker said he was concerned the federal contribution to regional universities was "not anywhere near the amounts that are required to recognise the demand that we have, nor the need we have in Lismore and regional areas".
"It's a step in the right direction but it's certainly not a run in the right direction," Prof Shoemaker said.
"Regional university network (RUN) is advocating really strongly for parity... there is about 20 percent of the population on the Northern Rivers that applies and studies at university and it's more like 40 percent in major metro areas.
"We have a big gap to fill and we are going to work hard to fill that gap.
"Some of the success funding will come to Lismore - the trouble is that it's such a relatively small amount - it could be less than $1million split between all the different campuses. This scheme is the beginning of a journey where we will be discussing the demography and the need, the actual merits and what we are doing with the government."
Prof Shoemaker predicted the Lismore campus would be in good shape when assessed across the four performance measures, especially in the fastest growing area of demand, the university's entire array of health degrees.
"Our employment rates for those are above 98 per cent because the demands are so importantly achieved," he said.
"The minister wants to allocate 40 per cent of the money on a basis on how well do people get employed after they have finished their degree, so I'm hopeful it will be very good."
With the new scheme's key driver was producing job-ready graduates with the skills to succeed in the modern economy, Prof Shoemaker said SCU Lismore would focus on advocating for special funding for programs such as Preparing for Success.
"It's a 16-week intensive with science health or arts focus and its equivalent for many people of having an ATAR above 80 in terms of success.
"There are a lot of people on the Northern Rivers who have finished Yr 10 and have never gone onto to do an apprenticeship or VET or TAFE or higher ed... that's one of the things we specialise in, helping students get into courses... we really think programs like that merits special funding and we are working hard to try and achieve it."
He said because the government's funding was only about 40 percent of the total operation of the university, SCU was always seeking alternative funding.
"We obviously have to do more in terms of funding."