As the first in my family to go to University, the parent of two university students, and someone who has worked in a university for 35 years, higher education is important to me personally. But it is also important to Australia.
Education is a liberator – it provides opportunity, it gives people a better understanding of how society works, and it helps people to make better choices. It is also a driver of the economy. Studies show that every dollar invested in universities is returned many times over, not only to the individual graduate in terms of lifelong earnings, but to the public capital as well. I work in higher education because I believe in the good it does for individuals and for the nation.
We don’t want the Americanisation of our higher education sector – where the quality of your education is governed by your capacity to pay. We don’t want $100,000 or even $200,000 degrees that cripple people with debt when they are trying to break into an expensive housing market or raise a family. We don’t want taxpayer handouts to private operators who aren’t properly accountable and rip students off.
We need to be smart like other countries that are investing in higher education in order to drive their economies forward and provide the jobs of tomorrow.
Higher education is also the powerhouse of Australian research and innovation – we need to be investing in university research if we are to stay in the international game.
Yet the LNP Coalition wants to cut funding to universities, to make students pay more, and to reduce funding to research – threatening the development of the jobs of tomorrow for our graduates.
Together members should think big – a healthy university sector drives economic benefit and helps to make for a smarter and more compassionate society.
At this election, put the Liberals and Nationals last.