Policies

Education and Training

Apr 12, 2016 UniPollWatch

Greens

The Greens’ main objective is to ensure that the education system is fair, accessible and high quality for all. They oppose the burdening of students with the costs of education, and support a reversion back to free university. The Greens believe that the government has a responsibility to fund all levels of education adequately on the basis of need, and continue to support the Gonski reforms. They view education as a fundamental ‘public good’ that should be available to every person who desires it, regardless of their economic background, wealth and social status – and do not want to see discrepancies between education outcomes as a result of these characteristics.

The Greens believe educational institutions should be positive environments that are inclusive of all gender identities, sexualities, ethnic backgrounds and religions, and are advocates for the funding of the Safe Schools Coalition initiative. They would also like more emphasis on supporting students from Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

The Greens have proposed two education based initiatives – Disability Funding For Schools and Supporting University Students – as part of their Lifetime of Learning policy.

POLICY SUMMARY

Invest $1.4 billion per annum to reduce students’ HELP costs by 20 per cent and reinstate the Student Start-Up Scholarships as a grant.
Continue the deficit levy permanently for those earning over $180,000 per year to raise an additional $1.55 billion per annum to bear the burden of students’ debt.
Make a National Plan for Students with Disability.
Increase resources for students with disability by $4.8 billion over the next four years.
Fund an extra $1.1 billion into disability in schools for 2016-17.
Fully fund students with disabilities on the basis of identified need.

Explanation

The Greens’ education commitments for the 2016 election are very much a continuation of their established position in this policy area. During the 2013 federal election, The Greens supported increased funding for higher education in response to planned cuts, also vowing to work on reducing student debt. Their 2016 election commitment to invest $1.4 billion in reducing students’ HELP debt and reinstating the Student Start-Up Scholarships (which were changed to a loan by the Liberal and Labor parties in 2015) is a clear extension of this.

 The Greens’ belief that education should be fair, accessible and high-quality for all is also still a central component of their education policy. Their initiatives to assist students with disabilities are also on-going, and their proposal to make a National Plan for Students with Disability appears to be the next step towards ensuring that educational institutions as safe, inclusive and accessible environments.

 The Government’s spending on disability in schools for 2016-17 has been costed at $1.3 billion, which according to The Greens’ Higher Funding for Higher Needs disability funding plan is $1.1 billion short of what is required. As part of their $4.8 billion investment into disability in schools, The Greens have committed to fund this.

Labor

Labor is strongly committed to giving all Australians accessible, quality and affordable education. It believes that regardless of where they live or their background, every child should have the same chance of succeeding at school, and in life, as any other child in the country. Labor believes in delivering an education system that provides students with the skills they need for jobs in the future.

It’s policy focuses on helping those who start university to finish university with a degree. Labor is against massive cuts to the education sector and is most concerned about the funding cuts to undergraduate students. It fears more students would be deterred from pursuing a university education as they wouldn’t be able to afford it.

POLICY SUMMARY

Increase the number of students completing their study by 20,000 graduates a year from 2020.
Introduce a new Student Funding Guarantee to remove the need for higher fees and a lifetime of debt.
Invest $31 million to boost the quality of teaching and resources in universities.
Establish an independent Higher Education Productivity and Performance Commission to ensure graduates meet the needs of the future economy.
Offer start up loans to 2,000 students and new graduates each year.
Open access to higher education for more Australians.
Boost the number of young Australians taking up STEM courses at university as well as upskilling 25,000 teachers.
Deliver more one-on-one support through the Your Child Our Future policy.
Deliver the Gonski scheme on time and fully funded, rolling back the Abbott government cuts.
A review of the VET sector ensuring that proper standards are developed and enforced.

Explanation

Labor is building on its previous education commitments, in particular the better schools funding program and the Gonski school review.  It has pledged : “Over the next 10 years, Labor will invest $37.3 billion to guarantee every school in Australia receives fair funding on the basis of need.” Labor has also pledged to fully fund the Gonski scheme.

With its focus on vocational training and funding for universities Labor is investing in a skilled workforce that can excel in the changing global economy. It is accomplishing this by addressing concerns over “dodgy providers” of vocational training with a $9 million program to maintain vocational training standards.

Labor wants 40 per cent of Australians to have a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification by 2025 and will achieve it by supporting education and training at every level, from increased Gonski funding to STEM courses in universities to give students the tools they need to succeed. Labor wants to increase funding by $3.8 billion for education, spread across each of the states and territories. Labor has pledged to maintain the current fee and HECS/HELP structure.

 

 

Liberals

The Liberal Party believes that good education outcomes will increase Australia’s productivity and improve economic prosperity. It is committed to all Australian children having access to high quality school systems and says the allocation of spending is more important than the amount of spending. Contrary to the recommendations of Labor’s Gonski report on school funding recommendations, it denies a link between higher student achievement and additional school funding.

The policy emphasises accountability and quality teaching, offering high performing teachers incentives, and encouraging their employment in lower performing schools. Liberals aim to strengthen the curriculum, focusing on literacy, numeracy, and preparing students for the workforce. There is additional funding for disadvantaged areas, such as Indigenous, low English speaking and disability. The party believes that public schools should be managed at the state level.


POLICY SUMMARY

Implement compulsory maths and science for year 12 students
Dedicate $118.2 million for students with disabilities
Dedicate $1.2 billion needs-based and contingent on education reform
Pay teachers based on student performance rather than service time
National Career Development Strategy
$33.7 billion total allocated to education in 2016-17 budget
Trade Support Loans of up to $20,000 are available to apprentices
Redesign of the VET FEE-HELP scheme for 2017
$127 million in targeted and new research funding
$3 billion in a new Jobs For Families child care package
Higher education reforms will be delayed until next year

Explanation

The government announced $1.2 billion in additional funding for schools in the May 3 budget but has not committed to restore $28 billion of projected funding growth removed by the 2014 budget. Funding will be needs-based but contingent on reform efforts to get better outcomes for students and parents.

This falls around $3 billion short of the Gonski recommendations, instead allocating money to high-need areas. The higher education reforms announced in 2014, which included the deregulation of university fees, have been modified, with a differential system proposed. Under this proposal universities would be able to charge higher fees for certain “flagship” courses.

The 2016-17 policy is consistent with past commitments to skills and training, with loans still available to apprentices and incentives for their employers. Also, children will be able to receive 15 hours of preschool a week, the year before school, 180 hours more schooling than last year’s policy. The Liberal Party plans to require compulsory maths and science for year 12 students.

The National Career Development Strategy aims to ensure “all Australians have the skills, knowledge and capabilities to manage their careers throughout life to support their individual wellbeing and participation in the workforce and contribute to Australia’s productivity”. It clarifies the roles and responsibilities of Federal and State Government in relation to schools, tertiary and TAFE institutions, and the workplace.

 

This policy is brought to you by Swinburne University, Charles Sturt University

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