As regards the national higher education sector:
• A sustainable world-class higher education system is essential to the country’s international success. While acknowledging that the Government’s decision will roughly maintain the overall level of investment, I am concerned that the state contribution to higher education will decline to a point considerably lower than comparator countries.
• I am concerned that the government decision sends out a message that there is not sufficient public good in subjects in the arts and humanities to justify spending public money on it. Since higher education is both a private benefit and a public good, both the individual and the state should contribute to it.
These views are supported by Council.
As regards our University, I would like to summarise some of the comments I have been making in the various “town hall” and other meetings and interactions I have had with staff and students over the past few weeks:
• We are confident that our vision of Newcastle as a world-class civic university will stand the test of time, however the Government’s decision works out.
• We will continue to operate under the principle of “One University”, in which we value the entirety of our broad academic base in medicine, natural sciences, engineering, agriculture, social sciences, arts and humanities, as well as the support services behind them.
• We remain committed to the principle of parity of esteem between research and teaching, and the notion of education for life.
• We wish to continue and enhance our efforts regarding widening participation and fair access.
• We will not be rushed into early decision-making. We have the resources to buffer any short-term consequences the Government’s decision may entail.
Looking ahead, we have constituted a Working Group, led by the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Planning and Resources), and with student participation, to consider the issues of fees and access from September 2012. The Working Group’s proposals will be considered at a joint meeting of Senate and Council in early February 2011.
published on: 10th December 2010