Equity measures slashed in Pyne policy shambles

Equity targets may go, and equity funding for public universities has been slashed, under the Abbott Government’s higher education package, Senate Estimates has heard.

“At a time when the Government is pursuing policies which will dramatically increase university fees and student debt, Education Minister Christopher Pyne continually blathers on about his higher education package favouring low SES students,” Shadow Higher Education Minister Senator Kim Carr said after the hearing.

“Evidence to Senate estimates gives the lie to that claim.

“The prospect of crippling debts will act as a major deterrent to a university education for low- and middle-income families – how exactly does slashing equity measures help these families?”

Questioned by Senator Carr, Department of Education officials this week revealed that the Government was considering dropping equity targets for participation of low SES students in universities. 

SENATOR CARR: Is the matter under consideration? 

ASSOCIATE SECRETARY: Yes

– Senate Estimates, 5 June 2014

Department officials confirmed that more than $172 million would be cut from equity funding for low-income students attending universities.

Officials also confirmed that dozens of private universities with fewer than 500 students would be exempt from the requirement that 20 per cent of fee revenue be put into a Commonwealth scholarship fund 

“How does exempting some providers from scholarship funding requirements create a level playing field?” Senator Carr said.

“Once again, it simply shows how dysfunctional and deficient Mr Pyne’s higher education package is."

FRIDAY, 6 JUNE 2014


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