No doubt you would have seen coverage of the 2017 Budget last night and today. I wanted to get in touch to provide a brief overview of how some policies will affect our community.
Most students will already be aware that the Government will be increasing fees by 1.8 per cent per year, cumulating in a 7.5 per cent increase by 2021. Students will continue to be able to defer payment of their fees using the HECS/HELP system, but will now begin paying fees back when earning $42,000 rather than the current $55,874.
Even if income contingent loans help soften the blow, I don't think that it's fair to ask students to pay more when the University sector has already contributed $3.9 billion since 2011 to budget repair.
An efficiency dividend will be applied to all Australian universities in 2018 and 2019. We expect, but are yet to confirm, that this will reduce the University's budget by up to $5 million over this period. This cut will have a real impact on ANU.
As someone who moved to Australia to pursue a career in academia, I have been especially concerned about the changes to skilled migration visas and the impact it will have on our current staff.
The current state of play has so many issues that I won't detail them here. My goal is to ensure that we have the ability to bring outstanding international academic and professional staff to ANU in much the same way that we do now. We seem to have been unintended collateral damage, and I feel a great deal of good will in the Parliament to help us fix this issue. It would have devastating consequences for the University if we were not able to resolve it. The Budget also revealed that employers of skilled migrants will be charged for doing so. Whilst the financial cost to ANU is not yet clear, as an organisation with over 200 staff on skilled visas the cost will not be insignificant. Rest assured, employing staff from overseas is vital to the success of ANU and these measures will not deter us from recruiting the best researchers in every field.
Finally, ANU welcomes the $26.1 million Budget commitment enabling the Australian astronomy community to gain access to telescopes in Chile through the European Southern Observatory (ESO). This will maintain Australia's optical astronomical research that helps to advance humanity's understanding of the Universe. The commitment also includes ongoing average funding of $12 million a year until 2027-28. It is also worth noting that a new Research Infrastructure Investment Plan which will be informed by the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap.
We are still figuring out the full impact of the 2017 Budget. As more comes to light I'll make sure you are kept informed. If you have any concerns, don't hesitate to get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is more information about the Budget on the Department of Education's website.