USQ Vice-Chancellor Geraldine Mackenzie said the higher education sector also benefited from the government spending.
USQ Vice-Chancellor Geraldine Mackenzie said the higher education sector also benefited from the government spending. Bev Lacey

USQ reveals what Budget delivers for higher education

HOW Scott Morrison's Federal Budget will affect the University of Southern Queensland's education offerings in Ipswich and Springfield is yet to be fully understood.

Tax reform and infrastructure spending dominated discussion about Scott Morrison's third budget.

USQ Vice-Chancellor Geraldine Mackenzie said the higher education sector also benefited from the government spending.

"I think there were some really positive initiatives," she said.

Professor Mackenzie praised the government's commitment of $28million to expand the availability of sub-bachelor places in regional areas, and $14 million for additional Commonwealth-supported bachelor places in regional study hubs, providing 500 new places by 2022.

"I'm optimistic about that one," she said.

But how many, if any of those positions, will be set aside for the Ipswich and Springfield USQ campuses is unknown.

"The devil is always in the detail," Professor Mackenzie said.

She said the university would seek clarification about the places.

She said there were also positives for research funding, with $41million allocated towards establishing a national space agency.

While Professor Mackenzie acknowledged the positive funding initiatives, USQ was not given relief to a funding freeze announced by the government in December.

In the mid-year economic statement, Mr Morrison announced savings measures of $2.1 billion would be found by imposing a two-year freeze on the Commonwealth Grants Scheme to universities and a cap on funding for student places.

That could force universities to put a limit on the number of places they offer prospective students.

Professor Mackenzie hoped the government would provide additional funding and "recognise the need of Ipswich and Springfield residents".

"We know the growth in Springfield, Ripley and Ipswich areas are out of proportion of population growth in general," she said.

"A lot of that growth is young families.

"As they get older they'll be looking for more educational experiences."

The head of USQ said Mr Morrison's predicted surplus in the 2019-2020 financial year meant "it's now time to invest in spending and education".

"It really is now time to reconsider that funding for universities," she said.

"It's time to give the much-needed places in Ipswich for more nurses and teachers in regional and metropolitan areas." Universities Australia released modelling this week which found the university funding freeze would cost the economy up to $12billion and sacrifice $3.9billion in future tax revenue.