Message from the Vice-Chancellor: federal budget update
27 June 2014
As we reach the end of Semester One, I want to thank you for your work so far this year. I will update you early in Semester Two on the progress we have made towards the goals we set ourselves for 2014, but I want to take this opportunity to keep you informed about our work on the higher education reforms proposed by the Australian Government in its budget.
SEG held a two-day offsite meeting last week where we discussed our response to the changes, including establishing new scholarships and bursaries to support our conviction that a University of Sydney education should be accessible to the most promising students, whatever their social or cultural background.
Since my last update to you on 12 June, we have continued to lobby the government directly, and senior University representatives travelled to Canberra last week to underline our concerns. These include the affordability of the proposed loan scheme, not only in relation to accessibility, but also with regard to how the suggested income repayment thresholds and interest calculations will impact particular groups - for example graduates who take on important (but lower-paying) professional jobs, or women or other carers who take career breaks and consequently face an increased financial burden. As I said on 12 June, the government is listening and taking our concerns on these and other points seriously.
I know that many staff, students and other members of the University of Sydney community hold strong views about the government's plans. While it is unclear whether federal parliament will amend the original proposals, we agreed at SEG that we should pursue a whole-of-University consultative process to inform our response. This will include discussions across the University, including with the academic divisions and our students. We are making preparations for that process and will provide more information next month.
Thank you again for your work this semester.
Dr Michael Spence
Vice-Chancellor and Principal