In the sixth day of our 7 questions in 7 days, we asked our federal candidates: Higher education has become an important part of the Illawarra economy, but both the state and federal governments are cutting funding to the sector. How will you boost higher education in the region?
John Flanagan, Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
The University and the TAFE institution are an important part of the Illawarra economy.
Unlike previous elections, school education is not playing a role in the 2013 election. The Coalition has locked in funding for the next four years by supporting Labor's Better Schools Plan.
There is a fine line between simply just providing funding to an education facility and providing funding that is properly spent.
If the University and the TAFE continue to deliver a product that the community want to use, then there will be inevitable funding.
The onus is on the University and TAFE to provide this product.
Sharon Bird MP, ALP
Labor has always invested in university education and worked to improve access for all to a university education since we were elected in 2007.
Federal Labor has invested substantially in University of Wollongong since 2007 because as a regional institution it is a key part of the Illawarra's economic transition.
We have built three brand new buildings: $43.8 million for the Australian Innovative Materials Facility; $35 million for the SMART Facility; and $25.5 million for the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre.
We have invested an additional $31 million to construct the Early Childhood Facility and provided substantial funding for UOW's research and development capacity, which will create the jobs and products of the future.
This year alone, nearly 200,000 more students are attending university across Australia.
Philip Clifford, Liberal Party
Higher education is vital to our regional economy and the University of Wollongong is the educational heartbeat of the Illawarra.
During the Howard years, students in higher education increased by 63 per cent, total government funding increased by 13 per cent in real terms and total funding increased by 65 per cent.
The Coalition will again help to foster the creative and economic potential of universities by reducing their compliance burdens and helping to expand their share of international markets, particularly important for the University of Wollongong being so close to Sydney.
I am proud of our world class higher education system, but it can be even better.
Helen Wilson, Greens
A strong higher education sector is crucial to Wollongong's future as a smart and innovative city.
Look at the wonderful success of Team UOW's Illawarra Flame House.
We need more projects like this to solve problems and make what we need for our low carbon future. We must invest in research to grow our knowledge and skills.
The Greens would increase university funding, not cut it.
We also need to maintain a vital and equitable vocational education sector to address looming skills shortages.
TAFE should not have to compete with private providers. We'll spend an extra $400 million per year to protect its viability as a strategic public asset.
Angry Anderson, National
As I have stated previously, education in all its forms is something very close to my heart. I believe that anyone who wants access higher education or any form of education for that matter should have access to the best educational services we can offer. The Coalition has announced additional funding to apprentices in Trade Support Loans providing real support to students as they complete their apprenticeship. If I get the job, I will push for a fairer Independent Youth Allowance so students here in Throsby have the opportunity to go to University.
Brian Boulton, Democratic Labour Party
I believe that reducing funding to higher education will be detrimental to the future of our society.
If elected, I would seek to encourage partnerships between universities and business along the lines of the old indenturing system where a business can contribute its training budget in return for a guaranteed placement during or on completion of study.
There would need to be some sort of tax relief to encourage business participation.
This would help reduce the government's financial burden for education at the same time as encouraging business to employ graduates.
Stephen Jones, ALP
Labor is removing barriers to university. Over 25,000 students are now enrolled at UOW: up 3.4 per cent since 2006. University funding is up 65 per cent and will continue to rise.
We've invested $135 million in new facilities so UOW will be a centre of excellence in infrastructure, building technology, advanced materials, alternative energy and early childhood.
Not everyone will go to Uni. NSW Liberals slashed TAFE funding, while Labor funded first class facilities at Wollongong, Yallah and Shellharbour TAFEs and school-based Trade Training Centres at Warrawong, Dapto, Warilla, Lake Illawarra and Albion Park schools. Vocational training has a big future in the Illawarra.
Paul Matters, Independent
1. An important step to improving competitiveness and productivity is to build innovation capability through the development of innovation "ecosystems" with the university as a regional research and education institution.
2. Restoration of Research and Development tax concessions cut by the Gillard government which provide incentive for industry funded university research.
3. Reversing the savage cuts to tertiary education of more than $1 billion over the next four years imposed by the Gillard government.
4. Increasing Commonwealth university funding from a little over 2 per cent to 3 per cent of total Commonwealth outlays.
5. Restore free university education and abolish HECS.
Peter Moran, Greens
The Greens are the only major party which supports full implementation of the Gonski reforms. This would deliver 10 per cent increased funding to universities, not the cuts proposed by others.
Research and Development funding would be increased to 3 per cent of GDP under Greens policies.
This will support universities in conducting ground breaking research, and also help the private sector to provide the framework which will support the jobs of the future.
The Greens support increased support for the TAFE sector. Over recent years the old parties, when in power at state level, have squeezed TAFE.
This is not a sensible move at a time of recognised skills shortages.
We would lift the away from home Youth Allowance by $100/ fortnight, and index the Youth Allowance to the CPI.
This will help keep students out of poverty.
All Greens policies have been fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office so we know they are affordable and deliverable.
Larissa Mallinson, Liberal Party
The Coalition will strengthen higher education and encourage Australians of all ages further their education and gain a competitive advantage.
We will ensure the continuation of the current arrangements of university funding.
We'll ensure the sector has a stable long term source of infrastructure funding.
We'll work with the sector to reduce the burden of red tape, freeing up the sector to concentrate on delivering results and services.
We'll make sure government research funding is spent as effectively as possible.
Neil Reilly, ALP
Funding to universities increased under Labor. There will be no decrease in funding, the increases will be slightly less to help pay for the biggest change to schools funding in nearly 50 years.
FACT No student currently enrolled at university will be worse off as a result of changes to the Start-up Scholarships.
FACT Overall funding for universities will continue to grow at record levels.
FACT Student income support has increased by 78 per cent under Labor.
FACT More uni students can now access Youth Allowance than ever before.
FACT Funding for higher education remains at the highest levels in Australia's history
Terry Barratt, Greens
Australia ranks near the bottom of the OECD countries for public investment in universities. Both major parties have failed us.
We will increase university base funding per student by 10 per cent which will reverse this situation. We'll also reverse Labor's $2.3 billion higher education budget cuts.
To provide the high-level skills and workforce development so vital to our economic future, the Greens will deliver an extra $400 million per year for TAFE.
The Greens will ensure TAFE is the preferred funded provider of courses where it can supply those courses.
Funds will come from abolition of the $12 billion plus of tax concessions enjoyed by the mining industry.