The Australian Government’s announcement of a proposed extra $A14.5 billion in education funding over the next six years has been received positively by Adventist Schools Australia.
Any additional funding is appreciated. While the majority of funding is going to the state sector, we certainly will see a benefit for our school system.
Independent schools will receive an extra $A1 billion, according to analysis by the ABC.
“Any additional funding is appreciated,” said Daryl Murdoch, who heads up Adventist Schools Australia. “While the majority of funding is going to the state sector, we certainly will see a benefit for our school system.”
Mr Murdoch is particularly pleased that funding will follow students according to their needs, regardless of whether they attend a government or non-government school. But he’s worried at the stoush that has developed as state governments refuse to sign up to the agreement, saying they’re unable to afford their contribution, and arguing for a larger slice of the pie.
“The biggest concern I have,” Mr Murdoch said, “is that we end up with divisiveness, with some states running with this and others not. That would fragment what needs to be a very clear national approach.”
There’s also been dismay at revelations that the new arrangements will be partially funded by a reduction in tertiary education funding. According to Dr Ray Roennfeldt, president of Avondale College, it’s still “early days”. He believes the impact on private institutions is likely to be less but concerns remain.
“Where the cuts will have an impact is in changes to student income support and HECS fees,” Dr Roennfeldt said. “It will be harder for our students to access support for living expenses and students with Commonwealth supported places will graduate with increased indebtedness.
“The hard fact is that there are votes in the schools sector, but no votes in the higher education arena.”