Closure of a $3.7 billion (£2.3 billion) education investment fund would end “the last remaining federal programme dedicated to financing university buildings and infrastructure”, Universities Australia has warned.
The government wants to end the programme to fund higher than expected costs in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“Established by the Howard government and then supported by Labor in government, this programme funds teaching, training and research facilities at universities right across the country,” said Belinda Robinson, Universities Australia chief executive.
She added that without the funding “future students, communities and the nation will see a gradual erosion of our world-class university facilities”.
Universities Australia highlighted the fact that international education exports are worth $21.8 billion a year to the nation.
“As MPs and senators start the year, we understand the budget is a key concern. It makes no sense to close down programmes that generate wealth for Australia,” Ms Robinson said.
Universities Australia also warned that universities with few alternative funding sources would be hardest hit.
In December’s budget update, the government said it would shut the fund so as to reallocate the funding to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.