How much worse off will your uni be under the funding freeze?


Australian universities struck by a Federal Government funding freeze will be forced to go without up to 15 per cent of their base funding, according to data obtained by the ABC.

Key points:

  • Funding freeze saves Federal Government up to $2 billion
  • High-ranking Group of Eight universities face an average 3.5 per cent hit, compared to 7 per cent for Regional University Network institutions
  • Worst impact is CQU's 15 per cent hit, while eight universities will see no change

Regional universities are set to face a more severe impact than Australia's top-ranked universities, raising fears of skills shortages in rural areas.

The savings measure, worth up to $2 billion, will see the Commonwealth contribution for most undergraduate courses remain at last year's levels in 2018 and in 2019.

Vice-chancellors are now threatening to slash the number of places they offer and to axe campus services.

Take a look at how your university will fare in the table below.

The ABC obtained the Education Department's four-year funding projections after a Freedom of Information (FOI) investigation.

The University of Tasmania and Victoria's La Trobe University would each have received about $175 million more in base funding under pre-freeze policies.

Western Australia's Edith Cowan University and South Australia's Flinders University were both set to pocket a further $115 million.

Peak body Universities Australia said the change effectively ended the uncapped entry system introduced by the Gillard government.

"At many universities, what they're staring down the barrel of right now is really reducing their first-year intake," chief executive Catriona Jackson said.

"That's not something that any family wants to hear, that their son or daughter, who was looking at a place at university … won't be able to get one."

Ms Jackson said the "massive gulf" in university attainment between city-dwellers and rural Australians would widen, and regional universities would "not be able to respond to skills shortages in the workforce".

Central Queensland University worst hit

The ABC understands some institutions predict the blow will not be as bad as the figures suggest.

One elite university, the University of Queensland, will not see any change to their funding, according to the official document.

Group of Eight universities — a collection of high-ranking, capital city institutions — will be worse off by about 3.5 per cent on average versus business as usual.

By comparison, members of the Regional Universities Network face an average hit of 7 per cent.

The Government figures show Central Queensland University (CQU) will face the worst impact, with base funding about 15 per cent lower, equating to almost $150 million.

"Our students will see a diminishing of services", CQU vice-chancellor Scott Bowman said, pointing to sport activities, careers advice, and psychological support.

"We know that mental health issues are a problem, we would love to put more counsellors in to provide those services, but that's just not going to be possible."

Professor Bowman said the freeze was "a tax on success" that punished his university for rapid growth. CQU now has 16 campuses across five states.

Government suggests universities 'find efficiencies'

The freeze, announced last December, covers most undergraduate degrees but does not change postgraduate course subsidies.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham told the ABC that base funding would continue to grow during the freeze period, but at a slower rate.

Senator Birmingham said institutions should "find efficiencies out of what are very significant marketing and administration budgets".

"Start with administration budgets, marketing budgets, the non-core areas of activities that don't necessarily impact on students," he said.

The Government said student contributions to course costs would remain unchanged.

Find out how your university will be affected

University State Decline Impact of freeze ($)
Macquarie University (Macq) NSW 7.1 per cent 118 million
Southern Cross University (SCU) NSW 5.7 per cent 33 million
The University of Wollongong (UOW) NSW 5.1 per cent 60 million
The University of New England (UNE) NSW 3.2 per cent 25 million
University of Sydney (USyd) NSW 2.8 per cent 62 million
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) NSW 2.3 per cent 48 million
The University of Newcastle (UON) NSW 2.2 per cent 33 million
University of Technology Sydney (UTS) NSW 1.9 per cent 31 million
Western Sydney University (WSU) NSW 1.6 per cent 32 million
Charles Sturt University (CSU) NSW 1.1 per cent 12 million
Avondale College of Higher Education NSW 0.0 per cent 0
La Trobe University Vic 9.0 per cent 175 million
The University of Melbourne (UOM or UniMelb) Vic 6.4 per cent 139 million
Federation University Australia (FedUni) Vic 5.9 per cent 29 million
Monash University Vic 5.1 per cent 134 million
RMIT University Vic 4.7 per cent 96 million
Victoria University (VU) Vic 3.1 per cent 28 million
Swinburne University of Technology Vic 3.1 per cent 41 million
Deakin University Vic 2.4 per cent 51 million
Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly NMIT) Vic 0.0 per cent 0
Eastern College Australia Inc Vic 0.0 per cent 0
Holmesglen Institute of TAFE Vic 0.0 per cent 0
Central Queensland University (CQU) Qld 15.0 per cent 147 million
University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) Qld 8.7 per cent 66 million
James Cook University (JCU) Qld 3.2 per cent 29 million
University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Qld 3.1 per cent 29 million
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Qld 2.1 per cent 45 million
Griffith University Qld 0.6 per cent 12 million
The University of Queensland (UQ) Qld 0.0 per cent 0
Christian Heritage College (CHC) Qld 0.0 per cent 0
Edith Cowan University (ECU) WA 9.8 per cent 114 million
Murdoch University WA 5.1 per cent 36 million
Curtin University of Technology WA 2.6 per cent 47 million
The University of Western Australia (UWA) WA 2.1 per cent 25 million
Flinders University SA 9.8 per cent 115 million
University of South Australia (UniSA) SA 5.7 per cent 83 million
The University of Adelaide SA 4.2 per cent 53 million
University of Tasmania (UTas) Tas 11.4 per cent 177 million
The Australian National University (ANU) ACT 3.8 per cent 25 million
University of Canberra (UC) ACT 2.6 per cent 18 million
Charles Darwin University (CDU) NT 8.1 per cent 30 million
Australian Catholic University (ACU) Multiple 8.2 per cent 150 million
Tabor Multiple 0.0 per cent 0
The University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA) Multiple 0.0 per cent 0

Note: The figures above are approximates based on data provided by the Education Department. The numbers show the combined impact over four calendar years (2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021).

The numbers are estimates based on student levels in universities' estimates of student load from April 2017.

The freeze is expected to save the Government up to $2 billion over the four fiscal years to June 30, 2021.

Base funding is comprised of government payments and student contributions across sub-bachelor, undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

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