The Abbott Government’s higher education shambles continue to grow with Education Minister Christopher Pyne now becoming confused about his own policy, Shadow Higher Education Minister Senator Kim Carr said today.
“Mr Pyne, like Tony Abbott, has shown that he has absolutely no idea what he's done to university fees and to HECS-HELP," Senator Carr said.
“On radio yesterday Mr Pyne said the new arrangements for HECS debts and deregulated fees applied only to students enrolling from 1 January 2016,” Senator Carr said.
“That is not what the Budget Papers say.
“In fact, the changes apply to all students enrolling from 14 May 2014, or studying at that point, and all people with a current HECS/HELP debt.
- anyone studying now or enrolling between now and 1 January 2016 will be subject to deregulated fees from 1 January 2016; and
- all HECS/HELP debts will be subject to the new real interest rate from 1 January 2016. Current students, former students, all.
“In the same interview, Mr Pyne also revealed his ignorance on the average wage, confusing it with the minimum wage,” Senator Carr said.
“He said average earnings were $32,000 when that’s actually the minimum wage, and so he thinks the HECS repayment threshold of $50,000 is well above average income and won’t be a burden.
“Average income, for his information, is actually $72,000, well above the point at which young people have to start repaying their HECS debts.
“It clearly shows how out of touch he is with ordinary Australians.
“The Prime Minister also got it wrong on radio yesterday – no wonder the universities are calling on the Abbott Government to delay the introduction of its radical, retrograde and shambolic changes to the higher education system.”
TRANSCRIPT 891 ABC Adelaide - Breakfast with Matthew Abraham and David Bevan, 21 May 2014
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Well, we received a text yesterday from a mum who is very worried that her daughter, who is part way through her studies, will be hit by these changes. They are, in effect, retrospective, aren't they? If you're part way through a degree, you don't continue your degree and have to pay it back under the terms that you signed up to at the start. These changes kick in right now for you. Is that correct?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, it's not correct. So -
ABRAHAM: Okay, well, what can you say to reassure that mum and students who are already partway through their degrees?
PYNE: Well, the first thing I'd say was that this new system will apply from 1 January 2016, so to new students, unless students change their course. So if that student stays in the course that she's doing, she'll continue under the rules that she started. If she changes course, then quite rightly she will face the new measures. Secondly, I'd say that her mother has absolutely nothing to worry about because that student can borrow every single dollar upfront from the Australian taxpayer and pay it back when they earn over $50,000 a year at the lowest rate of interest [indistinct] -
ABRAHAM: Well, why should she have to pay it back when she reaches 50,000? The justification for HECS was that if you have a degree, you earn more than the average. Fifty thousand is well below the average.
PYNE: No, it's not. The average [indistinct] earnings is $32,000.
ABRAHAM: Well, according to The Australian, the paper that the Coalition is very fond of, the average weekly earnings was about $72,000.
PYNE: No, the $32,000 is the average weekly earnings and $50,000 is well above it -
ABRAHAM: It's not, Christopher. That's the median earnings. The average weekly earnings is -
PYNE: Well, the Audit Commission -
ABRAHAM: - well over $50,000.
PYNE: The Audit Commission suggested it be dropped to $32,000. We are keeping it at $50,000.
ABC Radio 744 Melbourne, Wednesday, 21 May 2014
TONY ABBOTT: If you start a course under one system, you’ll finish it under that system.
STUDY ASSIST WEBSITE
The new funding arrangements will affect all Commonwealth supported students who accept an offer of enrolment after 13 May 2014. Changes to Commonwealth subsidies and student contributions do not take effect until 1 January 2016. Students who accept a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) on or after 14 May 2014 will be charged under the existing arrangements until 31 December 2015.
THURSDAY, 22 MAY 2014