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Public Private Investment Framework - AUS

Public Private Investment Framework - AUS

Concern at public-private sector tertiary education investment framework Concern has been expressed at the development of a new public-private sector tertiary education investment framework announced this week by government.

The Partnerships for Excellence facility enables tertiary institutions to seek matching funding from government for large-scale investment projects (generally those valued at $10 million or more). It has been established to encourage greater private sector investment in tertiary education and to foster better linkages between tertiary institutions, business and industry.

Association of University Staff (AUS) National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, while welcoming additional funding, says concerns expressed last year about the increasing dependency of universities on the private sector funding are heightened by the announcement.

"We would have expected academic issues to be safeguarded in the conditions and criteria as part of the framework. Instead the safeguards focus largely on financial risks," he said. "This scheme highlights the increased reliance of public institutions on private funding. Steadily increasing dependency of the universities on private funding will inevitably lead to challenges to their independence. In particular pressures will increase on staff not to comment unfavourably on commercial interests".

Some of the proposals could include "joint governance" or joint venture arrangements with private industry. "We are concerned that such arrangements could be de-facto partial privatisation of important research facilities," said Dr Rosenberg. "Relationships between the institution and private partners in permanent arrangements like these raise concerns regarding academic freedom".

ENDS


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