Taking the pressure off
Calls for an extra $2b in funding for Australian universities could help reduce dependence on international students and boost places for local students, according to University Of Sydney representatives, reports Jack Dennis.
Calls for an extra $2b in funding for Australian universities could help reduce dependence on international students and boost places for local students, according to University Of Sydney representatives.
“I think this two billion could be a way to cut down reliance on the massive income provided by international students,” Financial Manager for the University of Sydney’s Faculty Of Engineering, Derek Moore said.
Income from overseas students had helped to protect many faculties from the effects of the global financial crisis and the poor funding for tertiary education under the Howard regime. Generous benefactors pouring in $57 million dollars in donations a year have also helped to protect teaching standards.
If the Budget delivers the funding boost it would not mean an abrupt drop in overseas numbers, only a gradual decrease. A gradual decline could open up more university places for local students, giving Australians from financially disadvantaged, or indigenous backgrounds a better chance of receiving a higher education.
Director of Research And Education, Denis Tracey said: “Australian universities are completely financially dependant on selling education to Asia and the middle east … if that stopped we’d absolutely go broke overnight.”
The two billion dollar funding boost was called for by Universities Australia chief executive Glenn Withers.
A more educated Australian population is an aim of the government as it results in a better standard of living. A skilled workforce is also essential to aid in the recovery of the slumping economy.
University of Sydney Director of Government Relations, David Morris, said that 60 to 70 per cent of funding came from the government but the reliance on the income of international students could not be changed even if government funding was increased.
“Much more funding would need to be assigned … to take pressure off international students,” he said.
International student Joan Lim thinks the proposal will have many negative side effects. Ms Lim said: “Most international students end up in the Australian workforce anyway. If someone from China get in on smarts but are replaced by someone local who isn’t as intelligent, aren’t you just gaining a less competent worker later on?”
The idea is still in its early stages and no immediate plans have been put into place.
“Of course this is all speculation,” Tracey said. “More local students at the university would be great but international students are such a large part of the culture and tradition here there are many reasons to keep things the way they are.”