Call for consensus on universities

AFTER the Federal Government's second failure to deregulate university fees, the sector has called for an end to using it as a "political football".

As widely expected, the Senate crossbenchers voted down the government's fee deregulation bill on Tuesday night, but Education Minister Christopher Pyne pledged to continue the fight.

Universities Australia urged all those involved to return to negotiations. The group wants a new "consensus" on the need for more funding. UA chief executive officer Belinda Robinson said the country could no longer "continue to kick this can down the road".

"Our universities, and the hopes and aspirations of our children, can no longer afford to be treated as a convenient political football," she said.

Despite two failed attempts, the government hopes to win over crossbenchers for its proposed 20% cut to government subsidies for study places. But it's an unlikely prospect.

Ms Robinson urged the entire parliament to reach a "bipartisan" position on "robust funding".