While the University welcomes sentiments in the Government’s third discussion paper - Setting Firm Foundations: Facing the Challenges in Financing Australian Higher Education – it argues that a ‘whole of government’ approach to funding is required. The University states that without provision for an overall increase in public funding, the Government’s desire for higher education reform will be mere “rhetoric”.
Charles Sturt University has rejected the four funding options presented by the Government, arguing none of the options adequately address the needs of CSU, which, as a regional university, has special obligations to its communities.
The central argument presented by CSU is that the Government has failed to recognise that regional universities have such obligations. CSU cites as example the fact it continues to have to lobby for resources to support its Dubbo Campus, despite it being a development that has not only redressed educational access issues, but also provided cultural, social, community and political growth for Dubbo and its regional community.
In highlighting its preferred funding model, the University has identified flaws in the current funding system, including: no flexibility to account for changes to courses it offers – for example, CSU has introduced high cost paramedical courses in response to community and industry need and no allowance is made for additional costs associated with running these courses.
CSU has also rejected outright the concept of student vouchers, on the basis they neither adhere to principles of access and equity, “nor is there any international evidence they work in practice”.
In its submission, the University suggests a funding model that is marked by the following:
- Payments from the Commonwealth that reflect an institution’s course profile.
- Teaching and research should be allocated as one, not funded separately.
- Provision of a base rate of funding that is related to actual course costs.
- Provision of an additional pool of funding for regional multi-campus universities, in recognition of their special needs and obligations.
- Continued payment for special initiatives such as those involving the enrolment of students from NSW Police.