Wednesday, April 6, 2011

HERDSA - Special Posting re Closure of ALTC

News — March 10, 2011

Dear Friends,

As you are no doubt aware, the Federal Government decided recently to
abolish the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) in order to fund
its flood reconstruction package. Following deals with the Greens and Mr
Wilkie, the Government performed a half-backflip by restoring $50 million in
funding and transferring some as yet unspecified functions of the ALTC to
the Department of Education.

This is a solution that satisfies no one. The ALTC plays an extremely
valuable role in improving the quality of the learning and teaching
experience for one million students and academics in Australian
universities. For the sake of “saving” a few million dollars each year, all
this work and all the accumulated expertise and corporate knowledge will be
lost. Meanwhile the Department of Education is clearly under-resourced and
not experienced enough to perform the ALTC’s functions.

As Minister Evans himself admitted at the recent Senate Estimates even he
was surprised by the volume and vehemence of opposition to the abolition of
the ALTC coming from the university sector. The Minister is clearly hearing
the message but sadly is not listening.

The decision to restore the ALTC would not be a difficult one to make. But
the window of opportunity is closing, as the 2011/12 Federal Budget
approaches. From then on, it will be much more difficult to save the ALTC -
it is much easier to ensure that a pot is not broken, than to try to put its
shattered pieces back together.

That is why the Government, and Minister Evans in particular, need to be
made to understand just how important this issue is to the university
sector. Minister Evans has to listen and stand up for the key constituency
he is meant to represent.

In order to make our voices heard and apply maximum pressure on the
Government, I ask you to sign the petition calling for the ALTC to be
preserved. It can be found at Please help by distributing
the link to the petition as widely as possible, so that the message from all
those who care about quality of education can be heard loud and clear.

This is not a partisan or political issue; it’s a matter of common sense and
good public policy. I hope that these considerations will prevail in the
debate and I hope that this petition can help in its own little way to bring
that outcome about.

Yours sincerely

Senator Brett Mason

Shadow Minister for Universities


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