Most Australians 'disapprove' of funding cuts, fee rises

Pre-budget poll finds majority in opposition to major changes planned by government

May 9, 2017
Australian Parliament, Canberra
Australian Parliament, Canberra

A majority of Australian voters disapprove of the government’s plans to cut university funding and raise tuition fees, according to a poll.

Ahead of the budget on 9 May, an Essential poll surveyed the public over views on planned changes to university funding announced last week.

The changes include a 2.5 per cent cut in university funding and a 7.5 per cent increase in tuition fees, aimed at addressing the government’s budget deficit.

The Essential poll of 1,795 voters showed 56 per cent disapproved of the funding cut, while 60 per cent disapproved of increasing fees.

Views were divided about whether the current funding split between graduates and government – 42:58 per cent – was the right one. The poll found that 31 per cent believed students should pay less, 20 per cent thought they should pay more, 37 per cent thought the current share was correct and 12 per cent didn’t know.

“Clearly many people do see the link between investments in universities and the future growth and prosperity of the country,” said Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia.

“They also see the disconnect between proposals to cut funding for higher education and the urgent task for Australia to skill up our people, create new jobs through research, and boost productivity.

“The poll shows a significant level of disapproval given many voters are still to turn their minds to these issues in more detail.”

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