MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (12:07): I rise today to update the house on the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Australia’s universities. That is why in May the Treasurer and I established a $350 million higher education state investment fund and committed to payroll tax deferrals valued at around $110 million. Universities have been advised of their minimum allocation under the investment fund. This was determined by the size of their student bodies, with an equity adjustment for the level of disadvantage within each student body. There is also a pool of funds that universities can apply for on a competitive basis.
A project control group headed by a former departmental secretary has been working with the universities in recent months on co-designing a range of exciting projects that will provide opportunities for research and infrastructure and of course the jobs associated with those projects. I look forward to updating you on the many projects we will invest in over the course of the next year.
Victoria has led the country, stepping up to support universities at a difficult time, but as we have always said, the federal government has the funding responsibility for Victoria’s universities. We will not stand for cost-shifting by the federal coalition. All of us on this side are deeply concerned at the scale of job loss across universities—job loss that was avoidable if the federal government had backed our universities. A proper injection of funding to our universities would save jobs and increase student places at a time when we need more people skilling up for jobs. Our universities deserve better.