Treasurer Wayne Swan has cut almost $500 million in research funding for universities over four years by slowing funding increases under the Sustainable Research Excellence initiative that provides money for the indirect costs of research.
Contained in today’s mini-Budget, the cut will hit the research intensive Group of Eight universities hardest and the sector has already warned that such a cut will cost jobs.
But in what will come as a relief for researchers, Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans said there would be no change to the level of research grants allocated to the Australian Research Council and Cooperative Research Centres.
“Close to $880 million in ARC Discovery and Linkage grants and $154 million in CRC grants will support the research effort, ensuring continuity for ongoing projects as well as new investment in key scientific and research priorities,” Senator Evans said in a statement.
The SRE funding target of $300 million a year has been put back three years to 2016. This will save the government $79 million in 2012-13, and $159 million in 2013-14.
The government will also scrap so-called facilitation funding for universities aimed at helping them achieve performance targets under their mission-based compact agreements with government.
Funding will be stopped from the end of 2013 and save the government $270 million over three years. This amounts to a $53 million saving in 2013-14 and a $107 million saving in 2014-15.
Students are also being hit with cuts to income support. The government will save $82 million over three years by “pausing” from next year indexation increases on the $2,050 start up scholarships available for Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy recipients.
The government also will delay by three years its previous plan to extend student income support to coursework masters students in 2014 at a budget saving of $167 million over three years.
“The (mid-year mini-Budget) includes an upward revision of $1.9 billion for Youth Allowance and Austudy, largely reflecting an increase in projected enrolments in higher education and a growing take up of income support payments by university students under the demand driven system,” Senator Evans said. (The Australian)