Australia’s leading universities have called for measures to address a 30% funding gap between base funding provided to universities and the costs of their core activities.


In their submission to the current Review of Higher Education Base Funding, the Group of Eight universities have argued that as a result of this funding gap, student-staff ratios have increased in Australian universities and investment in infrastructure and facilities has been neglected.


The Go8 said that in the recent past, revenue from international student fees has bridged the funding gap, but short-term factors such as exchange rates, changes to migration policy and perceptions of racism, as well as longer-term factors such as market maturity and growth in international competition, suggest that Australia can no longer rely on growth in international enrolments to support the tertiary sector.


As a result, the Group argues that there is a strong case for increased public investment in higher education.  It also maintains that student contributions should be partially deregulated, and new caps should be high enough to allow price point competition.


It called for a simplification of the funding system  by moving away from the RFM, cluster funding and HECS band system; and reducing the number of programs funded for specific purposes so as to give universities more flexibility in the use of their funding.  Further, funding for infrastructure, scholarships, research and student services and amenities should be incorporated in base funding.


The Go8 suggested the creation of an independent pricing regulator to oversee higher education funding in the public interest, but at arm's length from government.


The Review of Base Funding was established in October last year by the Minister for Education, Chris Evans, in response to the Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education. The panel appointed to undertake  the review is chaired by Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, and includes Emeritus Professor Dennis Gibson, Professor Louise Watson, Professor Beth Webster.


The review report to the Government at the end of October 2011.


More information is at