The report, published by leading think tank the Australia Institute and the Centre for Future Work, found 83 per cent of Australians are concerned that universities are prioritising profits over education standards and almost three quarters are concerned about falling government funding per student.
According to the report, federal funding for public universities has fallen from 0.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1995 to 0.6 per cent in 2021, a difference of A$6.5 billion ($4.3 billion).
In Australia, student fees accounted for 51 per cent of university funding, more than double the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 22.3 per cent.
The share of university revenue from private sources in 2019 hit an all-time high of 43 per cent.
“The long-term underfunding of universities inevitably undermines the quality of instruction, the quality of university jobs and the quality of a university degree,” Jim Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work, was quoted by the Guardian Australia.
“Our polling results show Australians know it.”
Two thirds of respondents to the survey said it costs too much to attend university in Australia and 68 per cent said they were concerned about larger class sizes.
“Universities do everything they can to cut back on expenses. From casualising the workforce to larger class sizes to cutbacks in resources and supplementary materials,” Stanford said.
“Imagine learning about cutting-edge science or health from people who are hired on a month-to-month basis. This isn’t going to equip graduates with the comprehensive and thorough education they need.”