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Curtin University
Vice-Chancellor
Note to staff

15 May, 2008

 
 

Federal budget

Like most universities, Curtin paid close attention to the recently announced Federal Budget to see what impact it will have on the higher education sector.

The Government will invest $11 billion, including the existing $6 billion in the Higher Education Endowment Fund (HEEF), in the new Education Investment Fund to finance capital investment in higher education and vocational education and training. Funding will be approved by Parliament rather than the Minister as was the case with HEEF.

Unlike HEEF, the new fund will be able to distribute funds from both investment income and its capital. It is anticipated that the initial HEEF funding round will go forward as planned and approximately $304 million will be allocated in 2009/10.

A Better Universities Renewal Fund was announced. This is a one-off $500 million fund for capital grants to the higher education sector before July 2008 for investment in ICT, laboratories, libraries and student study places, teaching space, and student amenities. Curtin anticipates receiving $13.7 million through this fund. This money will assist with our planned infrastructure developments and the significant capital improvement program which is ensuring the University is and remains a pleasant and exciting environment in which to work.

The new $10 billion Health and Hospitals Fund will finance improvements to hospitals and the health care system, with key priorities including spending on hospitals, medical technology equipment, and medical research facilities and projects.

The Commonwealth budget also confirmed funding for a range of policy initiatives previously announced. These include:

  • $238 million over 4 years for 29,000 new National Priority Scholarships and 15,000 new National Accommodation Scholarships
  • $249 million for 11,000 new Commonwealth supported places to replace full fee students
  • $562 million over four years to encourage students to study maths and science
  • $326 million on Future Fellowships for top mid-career researchers
  • $209 million to double the number of Australian Postgraduate Awards for PhD or Master students
  • $63 million to reduce HELP repayment for maths and science graduates who take up related occupations such as teaching
  • $99 million to fund new Commonwealth supported higher education nursing places. Funding will be provided for 90 places in the second semester of 2008 and a further 1170 places in 2009.

The Commercial Ready Program has been closed pending the outcomes of the National Innovation System Review. This program was a significant source of funding for small and medium businesses to support initial research and development, proof of concept and early-stage commercialisation activities.

It has been partially replaced by the Climate Ready program ($75 million over four years) which will be a competitive program providing grants from $50,000 up to $5 million on a matching funding basis to support research and development, proof of concept and commercialisation activities to develop solutions to climate change challenges.

While there may be some potential sources of capital funding in the budget for Curtin, indexation of Commonwealth supported student funding is expected to remain at only 1.9 per cent with no significant increase likely in the short to medium term. This will place significant financial pressures on the University as operational costs continue to rise at much higher rates. For example, the University agreed to pay rises of 8.2 per cent and 7.7 per cent in 2007 for academic and general staff respectively. However we are determined to deliver balanced budgets and do all we can for staff within these constraints. The University will work harder to increase efficiency in administration, reduce red tape and bureaucracy. We look forward to working with staff to achieve this so that we can better secure our future.

Expertise recognised

Congratulations to Kate Taylor and Steve Zubrick on the news that their article, “Late language emergence at 24 months: an epidemiological study of prevalence, predictors, and covariates,” has won the 2007 ASHA Editor’s Award for JSLHR-Language awarded by the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Kate and Steve wrote the article with Professor Mabel Rice and Dr David Slegers of the University of Kansas.

Curtin Ally Network

As 17 May is the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAH) it is timely to remind all staff of Curtin’s commitment to the inclusion of people of sexual and gender diversity, and to invite staff to consider becoming a Curtin Ally. An Ally is someone (staff or student) who is informed about, is sensitive toward and understanding of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) people and affirms the experience and human rights of GLBTI people. We aim to alert staff and students that help is available in the form of staff who choose to become Allies. You can visit the website for further information: http://unilife.curtin.edu.au/sexualdiversity/index.cfm