Government keeps Newcastle uni deal under wraps

DETAILS of an agreement between the University of Newcastle and private education provider Navitas will remain a secret after the state government refused to table them in parliament.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli failed to specify in parliament last week to what extent the publicly funded university would subsidise the new Navitas-run Newcastle International College, following a question from Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery in August.

Mr Piccoli said such partnerships were matters for each university's governing body.

It is the latest in a National Tertiary Education Union campaign against the university using commercial-in-confidence provisions to avoid scrutiny of public money.

A University of Newcastle spokeswoman said there were commercial considerations but they were happy to share information beyond those elements.

National Tertiary Education Union Newcastle branch vice president Rod Noble said there was no evidence the university's governing body had been provided with adequate financial details about the partnership.

"The minister claims that commercial-in-confidence provisions enable universities to diversify their revenue streams," he said.

"Yet without financial details available for scrutiny, we fear that taxpayers will end-up subsidising private companies."

Staff worry the private college, to open next year, could take university-developed courses and sell them, as well as the college's potential impact on university courses, academic standards and jobs.

Minister Piccoli said NSW universities were held financially accountable by specific laws.

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