University of Newcastle among regional institutes to miss out on funds

University of Newcastle's NeW Space. Picture: Simone De Peak
University of Newcastle's NeW Space. Picture: Simone De Peak

REGIONAL universities will face cuts of an average seven per cent to their base funding up to 2021 if the government’s freeze on support to the tertiary sector is not lifted.

The federal government announced last December it would freeze Commonwealth grants funding to universities at 2017 levels for 2018 and 2019, before moving to a competitive system that involves meeting “performance targets” and capping funding increases at the growth rate of the working age population.

This is expected to save the government up to $2 billion over four years to June 30, 2021.

The ABC obtained the government’s four-year funding projections through a Freedom of Information investigation, which show the University of Newcastle (UON) will miss out on $33 million – a decline of 2.2 per cent – of the base funding it would have received by 2021 if the freeze wasn’t in place.

UON did not respond to request for comment before deadline.

It said in January it would “work to ensure the... cuts do not impact our ability to welcome suitably qualified students into their program of choice in 2019”. 

“Nevertheless, these cuts will pose a complex and significant challenge for UON and universities across Australia. We will continue to lobby seriously for the reversal of these cuts and the impact they will have.” 

Universities Australia chief executive designate Catriona Jackson said cuts meant universities “won’t be able to respond to skills shortages, local population growth and a diversifying economy”.