Voters to shun Labor over uni cuts: poll

AAP, with a staff reporter 

More than a third of swinging voters would shun Labor because of their planned $2.8 billion cuts to universities, a new poll shows.

The Enterprise Marketing and Research Service poll, commissioned by Universities Australia, has found almost nine in 10 Australians support increased funding for tertiary institutions.

About a quarter of all voters said they were less likely to vote for Labor because of the cuts.

A similar number said they would be more likely to vote for the coalition if it promised to reverse the cuts.

The proportions increased to more than a third among soft or swinging voters.

Three-quarters said the planned $2.8 billion cuts were a threat to Australia's future.

The federal government announced the cuts, an efficiency dividend on universities, converting student scholarships to loans and capping self-education tax breaks, as part of its measures to find money to pay for an increase of funding to schools.

But the Universities Australia polling found the cuts were a vote-changer for many people, both those who had made up their mind and those willing to switch their support.

"This polling shows the strength of the community opposition to the government's cuts," Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said.

"It also reflects just how strongly everyday Australians feel about the role of our universities in securing Australia's economic future."

The organisation is planning an advertising blitz this week in 80 federal electorates where there is a strong local university presence.

It has already run a national campaign saying the cuts are "not clever" but now will focus on the effect the slashing of funds will have on individual universities.

The telephone poll surveyed 800 people between May 19 and 24.