USQ VC Geraldine Mackenzie.
USQ VC Geraldine Mackenzie. USQ Photography

USQ vice-chancellor 'disappointed' by uni funding cuts

THE University of Southern Queensland's vice-chancellor yesterday criticised the Turnbull Government's decision to freeze federal funding, saying it might put people off studying.

Newly-appointed VC Geraldine Mackenzie expressed her "disappointment" at the changes under to the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, which will cap the money paid to universities for student at 2017 levels for the next three years.

This means there will be no increase in university funding until 2020.

Simon Birmingham.
Simon Birmingham.

Professor Mackenzie said the move was particularly frustrating since USQ was trying to encourage students to study rather then scare them away.

"We're very disappointed that the commonwealth has put a freeze on funding for students, which has been set at 2017 levels," she said.

"The timing of this hasn't helped, because people are trying to make their decisions on university next year.

"The most important message is it won't affect our operations or the high quality of education we offer next year.

"It's not going to be easy, but we are prepared for this."

Funding will be based on key performance outcomes like course completion and job outcomes after 2020, according to Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

This could affect USQ, which had completion rates of 42.5 per cent from 2012 to 2015.

Professor Mackenzie, who contested those figures, said tying funding to performance outcomes would unfairly affect regional universities.

She also added USQ had achieved strong performances in other areas, and would be resilient to changes.

"Importantly, at USQ we have raised aspirations in students who previously thought university was not an option," Prof Mackenzie said.

"We will be facing a tough few years because of these cuts, but we want to give the community the message that a university education is just as accessible and available as it always was, and we look forward to welcoming many new students to USQ in the new year."


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