Page 1957 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 14 May 2013

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Discussion of matter of public importance

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Doszpot): Madam Speaker has received letters from Ms Berry, Mr Coe, Mr Doszpot, Mr Gentleman, Mr Hanson, Mrs Jones, Ms Porter, Mr Seselja and Mr Wall proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Madam Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Mr Seselja be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The importance of the tertiary education sector to the ACT.

MR SESELJA (Brindabella) (3.51): I welcome the opportunity to speak on the importance of tertiary education in the ACT. The ACT has a very vibrant tertiary education sector. There is not just the Australian National University; the University of Canberra, the Australian Catholic University, ADFA and CIT are some of our outstanding public tertiary institutions.

A strong tertiary sector is an essential part of a growing, strong, prosperous and stable economy. Australia currently sits at 25th out of 29 advanced economies ranked on public investment in universities as a percentage of gross domestic product. Despite this, the latest data from the University of Canberra shows that the university’s research publications have increased by 75.5 per cent from 2009 to 2011, while research income jumped from $11.6 million in 2009 to $17.1 million in 2011.

The University of Canberra has continued to grow its student population, with total student load up 32.7 per cent since 2009. The number of research students enrolled at the university went up by 41.9 per cent between December 2010 and December 2012.

The university has suffered under financial strain in the past, but I do think that it is important to acknowledge the good work the current vice-chancellor, Professor Stephen Parker, has initiated on the campus. I recall a debate in this Assembly some years ago—I think it was initiated by Mr Mulcahy—where the Canberra Liberals in response highlighted the turnaround in finances of the University of Canberra under the leadership of Professor Stephen Parker. He inherited a large deficit and very quickly turned that financial situation around.

It is worth noting also for the record that there has been criticism of things like the University of Canberra sponsorship of the Brumbies. But I personally see that as a good community partnership. I see great benefit for the University of Canberra, great advertising and promotion for the University of Canberra, as well as benefit for the ACT Brumbies.

We see good news in relation to the Australian National University. According to the Times Higher Education world university rankings, they are 38th in the world, and at other times have been ranked in the top 20, depending on the measure. We as Canberrans should be very proud of having an institution like the ANU here in Canberra.

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