Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s plan to divert public money earmarked for higher education to subsidise the training of priests and other religious workers will cause more outrage about his proposed changes to education funding, Australian Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said today.
Analysis of the register of approved colleges, held by the government’s national regulator, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, has found that 11 theological colleges are now accredited which means they are eligible for an estimated $4214 funding a year for each student, studying to enter religious ministries.
“Mr Pyne has gone one step further than robbing Peter to pay Paul – he is attempting to rob Australia’s public and secular university system to pay private, religious colleges.
“At least one of the private institutions that could receive millions of dollars in public funding if Mr Pyne's higher education bill passed states their mission as ‘training men and women to be effective servants for God'.
“It is deeply wrong that Mr Pyne is attempting to cut funding to public universities by 20 per cent in order to divert hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to private, for-profit education providers – including a number of religious based organisations.
“Courses that Mr Pyne wants to extend funding too include those teaching prescriptive Christian ideology on sexuality and marriage – is this really the best use of the higher education budget?
"Reports that the Coalition's higher education plan also involves handing over public money to religious based organisations should be another nail in the coffin of Mr Pyne's discredited legislation.