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'Robbing unis wrong'

Tuesday, 16th April, 2013

By Kurtis J Eichler

Robbing Universities of vital funds could see a drop in the quality of teachers coming to work in Broken Hill, a senior educator warns.

Universities are set to lose $2.3 billion in funding to pay for the Federal Government's Gonski school reform package, which will see a funding boost of $14.5 billion in education over the next six years.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is offering to pay $2 for every $1 state governments invest in education in the largest funding reform seen for 37 years.

Barrier Teachers' Association President and teacher Maureen Clark gave the package her tick of approval but questioned the funding cuts that come with it.

She fears universities could be forced to "lower the bar" if it was looking for more enrolments.

"That is what they rely on - students' payment to supplement their funding," Ms Clarke said.

"This will have an effect on the quality of the students when they graduate.

"We can't afford to lower the quality of the teaching courses; we need very high quality teachers coming into the schools to complement the increase in Gonski funding."

Mrs Clarke said young people could be deterred from higher education if University upped course costs.

Despite the cuts, Broken Hill would reap rewards from the extra funding, she said.

"It's the first time in 37 years that the public school system is going to benefit," she said.

"The major thing that I think is going to come out of it is the increased funding part to public schools, which takes the bulk of students with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds ... a lot of these children are in rural and remote areas like Broken Hill and our schools will surely benefit from this."

The Western Australia and Queensland Liberal governments remain hostile towards the reforms, labelling them as "a great big mirage" and a "terrible deal".

Mrs Clark said she was hoping the premiers weren't holding out for a potential change of government at September's federal election.

NSW would receive a $5 billion slice of the pie if Premier Barry O'Farrell signed up.

"We are hoping def initely that the Coalition government in NSW and Coalition governments in other states are going to sign up to this and are going to give it their full support."

The high school teacher said she would like to see more education funding funnelled into teacher training.

NSW Teachers Federation Western Region Organiser, Brett Bertalli said yesterday he supported the reforms.

"The premier can reverse the damage caused by his $1.7 billion education state cuts by committing his government to accept the Gonski funding offer announced by the Prime Minister on Sunday."

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