RMIT University is preparing to lose around $50 million in funding per year if the Government’s overhaul of the tertiary education sector proceeds.
In an email to staff on 30 June, RMIT vice chancellor Margaret Gardener called the Government’s cuts to higher education as outlined in the federal budget “very substantial”.
“RMIT cannot sustain such a cut in funding without facing a significant decline in the quality of education, research and services provided by the University,” she said. “The University will need to set fees to redress this situation when the government deregulates fees for domestic government funded places.”
Communications courses could lose the most funding, with industry-wide modeling indicating government contributions will drop by around 49%. This means communications courses would have to rise from around $6000 per year to almost $12,000 in order to make up the shortfall. If the Government’s plan to deregulate the university sector passes the Senate, course fees could rise even higher.
Environmental and social studies would also be hit particularly hard according to the modeling seen by Catalyst, with these disciplines potentially losing 43% and 37% of government contributions respectively.
RMIT has yet to formally announce what student contributions will look like from 2016, however in her email to staff Professor Gardener indicated the university will have no choice but to increase tuition fees due to funding cuts.
“The University has invested substantially in major new physical and virtual infrastructure to improve student learning and experience in the last decade,” she said. “There are major planned new expenditures for the next five years to ensure that students are learning in 21st century ways. This could not be sustained in the face of these cuts without an increase in student contributions.”
In May, RMIT University Student Union’s education officer Abena Dove told Catalyst the Government’s changes to tertiary education were the biggest funding cuts in a decade.
“It’s important for all student unions to mobilise against these cuts,” she said. “They will affect all students, especially those from low socio-economic backgrounds.”
Mining billionaire turned politician Clive Palmer—whose party now controls the balance of power in the Senate—has previously indicated he would not support legislation aimed at deregulating university fees.
By Broede Carmody
Image by Alpha via Flickr