Universities call for cost-of-living assistance for students

30 January 2023

The Guardian: Caitlin Cassidy 

The Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) has submitted its pre-budget paper to the federal government, calling for cost of living assistance for students and an overhauled strategy for international education.

The ATN represents six universities including Curtin University, Deakin University, RMIT, the University of Newcastle, the University of South Australia and the University of Technology Sydney.

Among nine recommendations were providing income support during placements, re-engaging with the Asia-Pacific, targeted support for disadvantaged students and an additional temporary loading for under-funded courses.

The ATN said the former government’s job-ready graduates reform reduced the overall loading funding to teach courses by up to 16% and didn’t succeed in encouraging students to study in “priority fields”.

“While we hope the Universities Accord will result in a complete overhaul of these skewed funding arrangements starting in 2025, we also know that every year is crucial to a strong pipeline of students. That is why we are calling for … a temporary loading in 2024 for affected priority courses to increase the resources available for teaching these courses without constraining universities’ capacities to offer extra places.

The ATN said financial assistance was needed to address access problems compounded by housing stress and rising inflation:

“Australia’s world class income contingent loan system helps make university affordable, but students are still faced with immediate and unavoidable study and living costs that are not covered by the system.

It also called for re-engagement in the Asia-Pacific, including improving lengthy visa processing times and providing affordable housing to international students.