Misleading Meme from Julia Gillard (or a Labor commsbot)

644218_10151594911982328_2020364601_nNo doubt some folks on Facebook are taking comfort from the meme posted on the Labor Party and Julia Gillard’s FB pages:

Labor is the only party that properly invests in higher education: Let’s let the facts give the perspective we need for an educated debate on education! Like and share.

Spending on Higher Education will continue to rise – just slightly more slowly.

If I were in a grumpy mood, I’d be inclined to suggest that the “let’s” in the exhortation from the Labor commsbot is clumsy and redundant. No doubt that would brand me as one of those hoity toity intellectual types, exactly the sort of educated inner city dweller that fails the Lindsay Test.

Perhaps Senator Glenn Steele would want to make that point.

However, this graph is deeply misleading, because it does not answer the question of the relationship between funding and costs. If you have more students, it costs you more to teach them. Clearly. The government has been encouraging universities to enroll more students, which is laudable, but it means that government funding has had to rise. It’s not as if there’s been some unwarranted distribution of largesse which can now be pulled back without consequence.

Thanks to Lefty E in comments on my previous post for extracting some highly pertinent departmental stats from a Go8 report:

According to DIISRTE Higher Education Finance Statistics, deflated using the non-farm GDP implicit price deflator, total Australian Government grants to universities increased in real terms from $6.7 billion to $9.4 billion between 2004 and 2011. Different elements of Government funding show quite different trends. CGS funding grew from $3.9 billion to $5 billion, or 26.8%. This was only very slightly faster than growth in student numbers (25.5%). As a result, real funding per student grew only marginally, from $9550 to $9640.

Those are some facts for the debate.

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