We are less than two weeks away from a Rudd government, but still the party promising an ‘education revolution’ has no higher education policy. The Opposition Leader’s campaign launch today did announce a few higher education related initiatives, but the silence continues on the key issues of how universities will be funded and how much they will get.
Two of the three initiatives announced today, while not high impact or on top priority matters, are likely to have some positive consequences for universities. The Future Fellowships program, which would give high salaries by university standards to mid-career researchers, could be a useful way of keeping academics with outside options in the higher education system. Doubling the number of research students receiving Australian Postgraduate Awards (effectively a scholarship that pays about $20K a year) could help more of them study full-time. In my own experience and that of many others, trying to write up a PhD while also working is very difficult.
I’m far less keen on Labor’s plan to double the number of Commonwealth Learning Scholarships, which provide about $2,000 a year to those who receive them, and expand the criteria away from just disadvantaged students to people enrolled in ‘national priority’ areas, and those moving interstate to study a specialist course not available near their home.
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