Julia Gillard pledges $14b school funds boost while cutting $2.8b from universities

PUBLIC schools will secure the lion’s share of the Prime Minister’s  plan to boost spending on schools by $14.5 billion over the next six years.  

While independent and Catholic schools will secure just $2.4 billion under  the plan the nation’s struggling public schools would secure a massive $12  billion injection

Julia Gillard will today gamble her election hopes on a plan to slash funding  to universities but deliver a $4,000 boost to every school student in  Australia.

Vowing to “get it done” Prime Minister will pledge that if the new spending  is averaged across Australia it will equate to $1.5 million extra over six years  for every school in the country.

The Sunday Telegraph can reveal the Gillard government will propose a $14.5  billion boost to public and private schools over the next six years would  include a substantial increase in the Commonwealth’s share of school  funding.

That figure, over six years, is lower than the $6.5 billion a year proposed  by businessman David Gonski to transform the school system but would rise over  time.

The sting in the tale is that the states would be required to provide up to  half of the $14.5 billion dollars.

But  universities and higher education students will pay the price, with the   budget razor gang confirming savage $2.8 billion in cuts to  universities,  discounts for families paying upfront HECS fees, self  education tax deduction  changes and converting a student scholarship  scheme into a loans scheme.

The Australian Education Union (AEU) this morning  said public schools  will receive most of the cash under the new funding arrangements.

“Public schools are the only ones that can ensure that every child receives a  high quality education,” AEU federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said in a  statement this morning.

“They are the ones that are open to all, in every community and teach the  overwhelming majority of students with higher needs and those from disadvantaged  backgrounds.”

The states now need to get on board to help make the Gonski reforms a  reality, he said.

However the union was disappointed some of the money was coming from cuts to  universities.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said universities had experienced  record levels of funding under the Gillard government, and that assistance would  continue.

Universities would be able to “accommodate these efficiencies”, he said.

“I think there will be scope for universities, they’re very big entities,” Mr  Garrett told ABC TV this morning.

“It is one of the decisions that governments need to take as they determine  how they’re going to support additional reform.”

“We’ve developed that model, and now we want to work with the states to make  sure it’s applied across the federation,” Mr Garrett said.

“For states who are looking at their education improvement, here’s an  opportunity to deploy additional resources … in a coherent national plan  focusing on student improvement.”

He said it was up to the state governments to determine priorities in their  budget and “think through the consequences” of underinvesting in education.

The Coalition signaled it may support the tough budget measures in  Parliament, warning it could not save the sector from a “bad government”.

The new investment would be linked to new transparency demands forcing  schools to improve performance in reading and numeracy. As state premiers  prepare to hold talks with the Prime Minister to thrash out a new funding deal  for schools, the Prime Minister warned the states that without change schools  will face a financial crisis in coming years.

“Today Labor will announce the biggest change to school education in 40  years,” she told the Sunday Telegraph.

“I want every Australian child to have the start in life that comes with a  world class education.

“We know we need to make improvements if we are to take Australia into the  world’s top five education systems by 2025 and I am determined to get it  done.”

The new investment would lift spending on schools to $49.5 billion on average  over the next six years to 2019. New South Wales would secure could expect a  $ 5 billion increase. Victoria would secure $ 4 billion. Queensland would secure  $3.8 billion. But WA would secure just $300 million.South Australia would secure  $600 million and Tasmania $400 million.

Catholic schools would secure $1.4 billion extra, lifting the total  investment to $50 billion. Independent schools would secure $1 billion extra  over the six year timeframe.

But the price of the reforms is massive cuts to the universities and student  scholarships that the Coalition indicated it would not oppose suggesting the  savage cuts would secure the support of Parliament.

“Sadly, this is the price you pay for a government that can’t live within its  means,” opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey told the Sunday Telegraph.

Education spokesman Chris Pyne suggested Labor was showing all the policy  instincts of a “dog in a butcher shop”.

“We will closely examine the cuts but we are not in a position to save the  sector from a bad government,” he warned.

Greens Leader Christine Milne accused the government of taking Australia’s  education system closer to a US-style user-pays system and “doing Opposition  Leader Tony Abbott’s work for him even before he becomes prime minister”.

“Universities and students will be rightly angry they are being forced to pay  for the government’s unwillingness to stand up to the mining industry,” she  said.

Mr Garrett this morning dismissed suggestions the funding model was skewed to  Labor marginal electorates.

“This is not a model that’s been derived on the basis of marginal seats where  the government holds or doesn’t hold seats now or into the future at all,” he  said.

I agree that something needs to be done about Public Education- however, if cuts in universities go ahead who will be there to teach the students??

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