Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon was at Southern Cross University yesterday to speak against planned Federal Government funding cuts to universities.
Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon was at Southern Cross University yesterday to speak against planned Federal Government funding cuts to universities. Contributed

Greens pledge to block cuts to uni funding

GREENS Senator Lee Rhiannon visited Southern Cross University yesterday to announce the Greens would block the Coalition's cuts to higher education.

Labor Senator Deborah O'Neill confirmed Labor would follow suit, leaving the Palmer United Party holding the university's fate in their hands.

SCU is already facing 50 job cuts, but according to the Greens if the Coalition "has their way" its fortunes could be worse.

Vice-chancellor Peter Lee has said the Coalition's proposed 20% cut to university funding would be recovered by increasing student fees.

"To even stand still, this loss needs to be recouped from somewhere," Mr Lee said. "We've cut staff and tightened our belts - and there is not much more we can do without very drastic surgery."

Greens candidate for Lismore Adam Guise said the proposed changes would cost SCU $60 million and staff cuts, course cuts and severe impacts on education quality.

Mr Guise asked how the university could remain viable if higher fees and commercial interest rates were imposed on student debts.

According to National Tertiary Education Union branch delegate Christopher Macfarlane, deregulation and funding cuts could see the university "removed from the map".

Mr Macfarlane said regional universities could not afford to raise fees by 20% and compete with cheaper providers.

"We don't have the demand ... proposed changes of (Tony) Abbott's are the perfect storm," he said.



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