campaign, to lobby the government to support public funding of universities. This has a petition which the public can sign to support public funding. Unfortunately Universities Australia do not make it clear exactly what form of funding they propose, or why this campaign is being run now. Presumably it is in response to the "Report of the Review of the Demand Driven Funding System" by Dr David Kemp and Andrew Norton was released by the Department of Education 14 April 2014.
The Kemp report recommended TAFEs and commercial Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) be allowed to compete with universities for government subsidised students. In my view this would be a very good change, provided that universities received separate funding for research, to make up for the resulting reduction in student fees.
Universities Australia can, of course, act as they see fit in the interests of their member universities. However, the form of non-transparent campaign being conducted is more usually seen run by commercial for-profit lobby groups. It is disappointing that Universities Australia has chosen to try to pressure the government by manipulating public opinion in this way. I suggest that Universities Australia should produce a position paper explaining what concerns they have with the Kemp report and what alternatives they propose, then invite public support of those specific proposals. A shallow manipulative marketing campaign does not fit with the role of a university to seek for open access to knowledge.
Our PetitionI believe that investing in our universities is investing in our future. I don't want Australia to be left behind, but I believe that's what will happen without proper, ongoing public investment in our universities.
Our workforce will demand more qualified graduates, our economy will rely on the creation of new companies, industries, jobs and opportunities that can only come from a strong university sector. Highly skilled graduates are what our economy needs to prosper as global competition intensifies.
Australian universities give back to the country in countless ways. University research and innovation continues to put Australia on the world stage, international education is our biggest export besides resources, universities employ over 110,000 people and directly contribute over $23 billion to our GDP. They are an investment in the future.
I call on you to lend this issue bipartisan support and to ensure proper, ongoing public investment in university education and research.
Let the community know that you won't let Australia get left behind.
From "keep it clever" Petition, Universities Australia, 2014.