Victoria’s La Trobe University is facing an AU$36 million shortfall in its budget as a result of the introduction of a demand-driven university funding system, reported The Australian on 21 October.
The new system, due to take effect next year, will allow universities to enrol as many students as qualify for their course of choice, unlike the current system which imposes predetermined limits on enrolments.
According to the government, the system is designed to encourage choice among students and competition, diversity and efficiency among institutions.
However, La Trobe has reportedly declared itself an early casualty of the system, due to a projected AU$36m deficit caused by falling international student demand, increased domestic competition and staff pay increases.
“What is happening at La Trobe highlights the deep flaws with the new demand-driven funding system,” said Virginia Mansel Lees, National Tertiary Education Union La Trobe University branch president.
“There is the potential for a significant numbers of subjects to be cut at La Trobe as a result of La Trobe’s funding situation. I am worried about the impact these staff cutbacks will have on workloads for remaining staff. It is also going to make planning for 2012 incredibly difficult,” she added.
Chris Evans, Australia’s tertiary education minister, has refuted claims that La Trobe’s projected deficit comes as a result of the demand-driven system. However, he reportedly conceded he did not know the outlook for student numbers at La Trobe next year.