02 February 2015
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has joined the Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, at a forum to discuss the challenges being experienced by regional universities across Australia.
Mr Wilkie said today’s Albury-Wodonga Forum on Regional and Rural Higher Education did nothing to allay his concern that the proposed deregulation of the university sector would have a disproportionate impact on regional universities including UTAS.
“I remain in no doubt that the smaller universities will be adversely affected by this lurch to a user-pays approach and UTAS will be especially hard hit,’’ Mr Wilkie said.
“UTAS will even need to re-assess the viability of the Launceston and Burnie campuses, despite the enormous social and economic good they do, if the Government’s reforms pass the Senate.’’
Today’s forum is hosted by La Trobe University and Charles Sturt University and is being held at the La Trobe University’s Wodonga campus.
Delegates are hearing from Regional University Network executive director Dr Caroline Perkins and Senior Research Fellow at the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education at Curtin University, Dr Tim Pitman.
There is also a panel discussion with students, community leaders and the Vice-Chancellors of La Trobe University and Charles Sturt University.
Mr Wilkie has been working to promote the interests and special circumstances of UTAS to the Federal Government.
He has held regular meetings and discussions with UTAS Vice-Chancellor Peter Rathjen and Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie.
“Jacqui and I understand the importance of UTAS for the Tasmanian community and economy and share a determination to do everything we can to help the university,’’ Mr Wilkie said.
“Among other things we have been looking for ways to fund the proposed $400m UTAS restructure.
“The proposed $400m UTAS restructure is a remarkable proposition and I’ve lobbied Education Minister Christopher Pyne repeatedly about its value.
“This is quite a separate matter to the Government’s proposed deregulation of the university sector which would make courses dearer, be very damaging to UTAS and must not be supported.’’