“Change of this scale has not been attempted in Australia before”: Vice Chancellor Ian O’Connor

In response to plans by the Abbott Government to cut higher education funding, Vice Chancellor Ian O’Connor has vowed that Griffith University will maintain tuition fees at the current level for domestic undergraduate coursework students enrolling in the 2014 mid-semester intake.

According to Professor O’Connor “this ensures that those enrolling in July will not be hit by an unexpected fee increase when the proposed new system begins in 2016”.

The consequences for international students and postgraduate students are not clear yet.

In an email to staff, the Vice Chancellor today admitted that while the cuts could transform the Australian higher education system, “how it will be transformed is far from predictable”.

“The key elements of the budget – the cutting of the Commonwealth contribution, the changes to the discipline cluster relativities, the deregulation of fees, the removal of caps on student borrowings, opening the system to new entrants, the funding of sub-degrees, the cuts to the Research Training Scheme and Australian Research Council and the creation of the Medical Research Fund – will prompt significant responses by different players in the sector,” Professor O’Connor stated.

“Other than those Universities with very high demand programs and very strong brands, and the private providers with access to CGS funding, it is unclear who the long term winners and losers will be,” he stated.

“Change of this scale has not been attempted in Australia before.”

According to the Vice Chancellor, “no matter where you sit on the spectrum, fee deregulation and the opening of the market to non-university higher education providers sets up an extremely challenging operating environment”.

“One outcome is certain – the ‘business as usual’ model will not survive in the intensely competitive times to come,” he stated.

The University is currently examining the implications of the budget.