Concern at public-private sector tertiary education investment framework
Concern has been expressed at the development of a new public-private sector tertiary education investment framework
announced this week by government.
The Partnerships for Excellence facility enables tertiary institutions to seek matching funding from government for
large-scale investment projects (generally those valued at $10 million or more). It has been established to encourage
greater private sector investment in tertiary education and to foster better linkages between tertiary institutions,
business and industry.
Association of University Staff (AUS) National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, while welcoming additional funding, says
concerns expressed last year about the increasing dependency of universities on the private sector funding are
heightened by the announcement.
"We would have expected academic issues to be safeguarded in the conditions and criteria as part of the framework.
Instead the safeguards focus largely on financial risks," he said. "This scheme highlights the increased reliance of
public institutions on private funding. Steadily increasing dependency of the universities on private funding will
inevitably lead to challenges to their independence. In particular pressures will increase on staff not to comment
unfavourably on commercial interests".
Some of the proposals could include “joint governance” or joint venture arrangements with private industry. “We are
concerned that such arrangements could be de-facto partial privatisation of important research facilities,” said Dr
Rosenberg. “Relationships between the institution and private partners in permanent arrangements like these raise
concerns regarding academic freedom”.
For further information please contact
Dr Bill Rosenberg
National President, AUS
Phone (03) 364 2801 (work)
(03) 332 8525 (home)
021 680 475 (mobile)