Science & Technology Australia has urged the Australian Government to especially ensure the adequacy of funding for STEM as it reviews its higher education changes in 18 months’ time.
This would enable any setbacks for STEM to be identified and rectified swiftly, after the complex changes in the Government’s higher education legislation passed the Senate by one vote today.
The revised Explanatory Memorandum tabled in the Senate today committed to a review of the higher education funding changes 18 months after they start.
Science & Technology Australia President Associate Professor Jeremy Brownlie said STA’s analysis for the Senate inquiry found the new formulas would cut funding for STEM degrees by $690 million in 2021.
“We share the Government’s ambition to see more places in STEM degrees and more STEM-literate graduates – yet the new formulas will actually cut the level of funding into these key areas,” he said.
“We’re asking for the review in 2022 to especially assess the adequacy of funding rates for STEM so we don’t end up with fewer STEM places when the Government wants more of them.”
Associate Professor Brownlie said even with a three-year transition fund, it was crucial to monitor the impact of the changes on science, technology, engineering and maths faculties.
“That will help to manage the risk of an even bigger challenge when the transition funding arrangements expire – and universities will also need to monitor this closely to safeguard STEM.”
With the university sector reeling from the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the squeeze is already being felt on STEM faculties.
This includes news reports that Macquarie University may be forced to close 30 science and engineering courses in 2021 amid financial pressure inflicted by the pandemic.
“STA will continue to work closely with our members and support the sector to provide feedback to the Government as the legislation comes into effect next year.”
We were pleased to see the updated Explanatory Memorandum include a reference to indexation and regional growth formulas being included in funding agreements with each university.
For interviews, please contact STA Communications Manager, Zoya Patel on 0406 249 786.