Deakin welcomes Federal Government's recognition of universities' role in national recovery

Media release
19 June 2020

Statement from Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin:

"As Australia's economy confronts its greatest challenge in modern times, Deakin University is pleased to see Minister Tehan's recognition of the vital role of universities, through education, research and innovation, in the nation's recovery.

Recognising the need for additional capacity in our universities is welcomed, as is the balanced approach in accommodating additional growth in both Australia's rural and regional, and high growth metropolitan campuses. This aligns well with Deakin's role in supporting students, industry and communities in Melbourne, Geelong and South West Victoria.

While we also welcome the proposed increase in subsidies for fields of study aligned to short and mid-term career opportunities, these are fundamental proposals with long-term implications for our students, staff and partners across industry and research. The changes to funding for specific higher education courses will have a range of implications for future Deakin students, particularly those whose learning or career aspirations lie in fields set to receive less government funding, including the humanities, economics and law.

To deliver progress and develop sustainable solutions for the complex problems society faces, we need a multidisciplinary approach that values the contributions from all academic fields that foster critical thinking, creativity and problem solving. In the months and years ahead, education, research and innovation will be vital in the social and economic recovery of Australia. Many of our students will go on to work in fields far removed from their initial degree, but the experience and skills they gain at university will remain an important part of building their career.

Deakin provides higher education to communities throughout Australia through its National Indigenous Knowledges Education Research Innovation (NIKERI) Institute. We applaud the government's commitment to continue to Close the Gap with increased access to higher education for regional Indigenous Australians.

Ensuring that universities can work well with business and government is vital and we are pleased to see the National Priorities and Industry Linkage and Transition Fund. This has the potential to support expanded internship and research translation projects such as the Geelong Future Economy Precinct and our Hycel@Warrnambool project where we are working with a range of industry partners to deliver hydrogen fuel cells for heavy vehicles and gas pipelines.

Today's statement delivers on the government's commitment to implement the findings of the Napthine Review into regional and rural higher education with additional funding for regional students and the appointment of a Regional Education Commissioner. This approach builds on the rapid shift to remote learning and working during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is making regional centres more and more attractive and viable for potential residents and businesses.

Ensuring that the Commonwealth support funding is indexed against inflation is a very important component of making sure that Australia continues to have a strong and sustainable higher education system.

These are a very significant and complex series of proposed changes and we will need to understand in detail the full implications for our students and our University.

At Deakin, we recognise the widening of equity gaps in some areas as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and that it has never been more important to deliver agile and equitable access to a national education and skills agenda. We look forward to continuing to work in close partnership with the Federal Government to achieve our shared goals in education and research."

Media contact

James O'Loan
61 3 924 45395

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