University of the Sunshine Coast Vice Chancellor Greg Hill may be happy about a funding boost from the federal government but he's not so pleased about the source.
University of the Sunshine Coast Vice Chancellor Greg Hill may be happy about a funding boost from the federal government but he's not so pleased about the source. Photo Lachie Millard

Coast university's bittersweet funding boost

THE University of the Sunshine Coast may be delighted to receive much-needed Commonwealth funding to underwrite courses offered at Caboolture and the Fraser Coast, but it is not so happy about the source.

The Morrison government has provided $138 million to regional universities to expand campuses and set up study hubs after they had been caught short by a funding freeze.

The freeze had left the USC with an unfunded Caboolture campus and and no money for its third-year cohort at Fraser Coast.

The university had taken over the Caboolture campus from QUT in January, one month after the Federal Government turned off the funding tap.

The double blow meant USC had been financially impacted at more than 10 times the industry average.

The $138m boost for regional universities came directly from the Research Support Program funding pool, angering the group of eight major universities who have tied it with a new "national interest test” for research funding to underscore claims they were under assault from the government on a number of fronts.

USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said the Research Support Program was accessed by all universities so the Sunshine Coast would experience a decrease in allocation the same as everyone else.

"The funding allocation to USC for the Fraser Coast and Caboolture campuses adjusted for a decrease in the teaching allocation that was only experienced by a handful of universities,” Prof Hill said. 

"It related to the timing of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook funding freeze (2017) and when USC took responsibility for Fraser Coast (2016) and Caboolture (2018).

"We were teaching students at both campuses with no government funding at all. 

"We are relieved this inequity has been addressed although, like everyone else, we do not believe the funding should have been taken from research.”

In relation to the new "national interest test” the Coalition government has attached to research grant applications Prof Hill said the Australian Research Council already had protocols in place to fully assess the quality and relevance of all grants it funded.


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