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University cuts – the dire implications for the creative arts

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The plan is there is no plan. On climate change, immigration, energy, marriage equality – pick an area – the federal government displays policy desuetude and political exhaustion. Around the world, the rhetoric of austerity is in retreat. In Australia, neo-liberalism’s sheltered workshop, it lives a crepuscular parole waiting for the next financial crisis or election catastrophe to finish it off.

Meanwhile, it does damage, sucking public money from sectors in which we should be investing, if the government would only listen to advice about using fiscal instruments. But the only good market is a free market, apparently, and until that truism is seen for a dud, this country cannot move forward on any front.

Higher education is a good example. Australia’s third largest export industry, it is now the target of a prototypical Lib mix of cuts and consumerist bright ideas, wrapped in talk about “making a contribution to budget savings” and creating a “sustainable future” for the sector.

Labor, the Greens, Universities Australia and the Innovative Research Universities group, have all come out strongly against Minister Simon Birmingham’s proposed measures. A war of figures and projections has been unleashed, with statistics about job losses, tax burdens, GDP contributions, investment surpluses and repayment thresholds tossed into the fray like infantry battalions.

At stake is a brute cut of $2.8 billion - one that Margaret Gardner, the Chair of Universities Australia, has said “moves in the wrong direction” for a country........

© The Conversation