Random Analytics: EIF Regional Priorities Round (to 5 Aug 2013)

***** The Regional Priorities Round has not been finalised, thus this is still a Work-In-Progress and will be updated as more information becomes publically available. *****

The Education Investment Fund (EIF) was first deployed in 2008 and during the previous term of federal government distributed more than $2-billion in funds to various higher education and vocational institutions. Here is the official overview as per the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education:

The Education Investment Fund (EIF) was announced in the 2008-09 Budget and is a major component of the Government’s Education Revolution. The role of the EIF is to build a modern, productive, internationally competitive Australian economy by supporting world-leading, strategically-focused infrastructure investments that will transform Australian tertiary education and research.

The EIF will provide funding for projects that create or develop significant infrastructure in higher education institutions, research institutions and vocational education and training providers, in order to:

  • transform Australia’s knowledge generation and teaching capabilities
  • boost participation in tertiary education
  • position Australia to meet domestic skills needs now and into the future
  • enhance Australia’s innovation capacity
  • invigorate the growth of Australia’s research capabilities
  • enhance Australia’s international competitiveness in education and research.

The EIF is one of three Nation-building funds established by the Government, along with the Building Australia Fund and the Health and Hospitals Fund.

The Regional Priorities Round will be deployed during the current term of government and will distribute $500-million in funding to regional institutions. The Department considers a regional institution to be:

As stated in Section 2 of the guidelines, infrastructure funded through the round is to support students located in regional, rural or remote areas of Australia, and regional cities (including, but not limited to Hobart, Darwin, Newcastle, Wollongong and Geelong).

Infrastructure funded through the round is expected to be located predominantly in these regions, unless there are exceptional circumstances where it can be demonstrated that locating infrastructure elsewhere, such as cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide or Canberra, offers the most efficient and effective way of supporting students in these regions.

In determining whether or not a particular location is within the boundary of a capital city other than Hobart or Darwin, the EIF Advisory Board will be guided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Greater Capital City Statistical Area classification.

EIF Rounds 1 – 3 plus Regional Priorities Applications

The Application Success Rate (ASR) breakdowns by Round have not been finalised.

In Round 1 (late 2008) there were 55 applications with 11 projects getting funding, an application success rate of 20% exactly. For Round 2 (2009/2010 Budget) I had to rely on a number of Ministerial media releases which confirmed the number of successful projects as 35 while only stating applications were greater than 160. This put the ASR between 18.8% and 19.8%. Finally Round 3 (May – June 2010) had 152 applications, of which 19 were successful giving it an ASR of just 12.5%.

Regional Priorities Round by Allocation & Population Centre

02 - EIFRdRPRFundingbyPopCentre_130805

As at 5 August 2013 there has been $388.9-million or 77.8% of the total funding announced.

The outer layer of this graph looks at the amount of known projects funded (from $500-million) while the inner layers break down the funding by the size of the population centre and capital/non-capital city deployment. Population size is based upon Australian Bureau of Statistics Census 2011 data and then allocated to one of into four categories. The categories are:

  • Regional Centre: A small city or rural centre with a population between 1 and 30,000;
  • City: A city or regional centre with a population between 30,001 and 100,000;
  • Large City: A city with a population between 100,001 and 500,000;
  • Metropolis: Any city with a significant urban area greater than 500,000.

Currently the bulk of the funding has gone to larger regional cities but none to any of the major cities such as Sydney or Melbourne.

In line with the EIF Regional Priorities guidelines Hobart and Darwin are considered regional centres but nonetheless are capital cities which have received funding.

More commentary to follow as the funding is finalised.

Regional Priorities Round Funding by State

03 - EIFRdRPRFundingbyState_130805

With almost 75% of the funding announced the clear winners have been both New South Wales and Queensland.

More commentary to follow as the funding is finalised.

Note: This infographic was created using Tableau Public.

Regional Priorities Round by University

04 - EIFRdRPRFundingbyUni_130805

Currently there have been 14 Higher Education institutions which have received funding. Note: In my analysis I included university business units under the parent university and TAFE units by state.

James Cook University is the leading higher education facility to have received funding.

With the Sunshine Coast and Central Queensland Institutes of TAFE both receiving funding TAFE QLD is currently the leading vocational education and training organisation to have received funding.

More commentary to follow as the funding is finalised.

Regional Priorities Round by Political Party

05 - EIFRdRPRFundingbyPolParty_130805

This chart identifies the political party where the funding is located.

With more than 75% of the funding announced the glaring issue with the Regional Priorities Round is that currently the Independents have been allocated almost half of the $388.9-million announced. Even without further funding that would mean that the Independents would get a minimum of 35.2% of the total EIF RPR funding.

It’s my view that the allocation of funding to seats held by Independents is disproportionate.

More commentary to follow as the funding is finalised.

Regional Priorities Round Funding by 2PP

06 - EIFRdRPRFundingby2PP_130805

The next chart looks at funding by 2-party preference. The Australian Electoral Commission states that Divisions with a 2-party preferred (2PP) percentile of 60% or greater are safe, those between 56 – 60% are fairly safe and those between 50 – 56% are marginal. Where a seat is considered marginal (based on 2010 election results) I have split into Labor, Coalition and Independents.

Safe seats currently get 36.3% of all funding while no grants have been allocated to fairly safe seats. Extraordinarily funding to marginal seats currently represents 63.8% of all institutional grants. Again, even if no more marginal seats get funding (highly unlikely for the VET
component) the amount already announced would represent 49.6% of the total Regional Priorities Round.

More commentary to follow as the funding is finalised.

Regional Priorities Round by Electorate

07 - EIFRdRPRFundingbyElectorate_130719

The last chart looks at the top 10 electorates by funding allocation.

Currently four of the top ten electorates funded are held by Independents but as the final funding gets announced this may decrease (or may not).

More commentary to follow as the funding is finalised.

Final Thoughts (well, sort of)

There is no doubt that even though the total funding for the Regional Priorities Round of the EIF has not been finalised many great regional Australian institutions have received funding for projects which will enhance educational outcomes for students outside of capital cities. As a Masters student who lives in a “regional region” studying off-campus with a regional institution I may well benefit from this largesse.

Also, BRAVO to the local independent members who have been able to get funding to regional areas, often starved in favour of inner city electorates. Certainly, this level of funding to some regions would be much less if it wasn’t for minority government.

That said, with more than 75% of the funding allocated since late November 2012 there is no doubt in my mind that the funding to date has been directed with intent to seats held by Independents.

As I stated in my EIF Rounds 1-3 analysis “Although I believe that incumbency deserves a reasonable return in terms of overall funding allocation the role of government is to lead in the national interest, not in complete self-interest.

Hopefully the decisions made and the final allocation of funding decisions to be made are in the national interest and that other projects which may have provided better educational and regional development outcomes were not overlooked for political purposes.

Note: My look at the Education Investment Fund Rounds 1-3 can be found at Random Analytics: EIF Rounds 1-3 Analysis.

Declaration of Interest: I have utilised only publically sourced information and all analysis and views expressed are my own and do not reflect that of any employer or organisation that I am associated with.

Update (3/07/2013)

Update (19/07/2013)

  • Updated all sections (minus funding by University) with announcement of a grant to North Coast TAFE.

Update (5/08/2013)

  • Updated all sections (minus funding by Electorate) with announcement of a grant to CQIT.