Education minister questions university budgets - Education Matters Magazine

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Education minister questions university budgets

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Minister of Education Simon Birmingham has questioned university budgets for administration and marketing, as the pay of senior executives comes under discussion in Australia and overseas.

The salaries of university leaders have been in the spotlight after it was revealed that Dame Glynis Breakwell, vice-chancellor of the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, was earning 468,000 pounds (about Aus$817,000) a year.

The Guardian reported that Dame Breakwell’s pay package, the highest for a vice-chancellor in the UK, would only be Australia’s 28th highest.

In an interview on 2GB Breakfast with Steve Price, Mr Birmingham said universities across Australia had seen 71 per cent growth in their funding since 2009. Taxpayers fund about 58 per cent of university revenue.

“It has been a big contributor to the growth in government expenditure, which of course comes at the same time as we’ve had troubles getting the budget back to balance,” he said.

Government research showed universities had seen some 15 per cent growth in their per student funding, but that hadn’t flowed into increased expenditure on teaching, or learning support, or students, Mr Birmingham said.

“So, money’s going elsewhere, in administration, in marketing costs, and so forth.”

He urged universities to look at their budgets for administration and marketing.

“Don’t talk about whether you have to find savings in terms of things that impact on students and their education,” he said.

“Do the types of things to find efficiencies that ought to be necessary, and ought to be found.”

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