Yesterday's release of the 2015-16 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook charts by the Parliamentary Budget Office reveals that the risk to Australia's university sector is just as real under Malcolm Turnbull as it was under Tony Abbott.
The Abbott-Turnbull Government’s plan for $100,000 degrees and 20 per cent funding cuts for student places remains in place.
And the new data shows if the plan becomes law, universities will be worse off in 2018-19 than was projected in the 2015 Budget, despite the Government’s decision to delay deregulation until 2017.
Malcolm Turnbull, like Tony Abbott before him, has nothing to offer Australia's students except $100,000 degrees and a lifetime of debt.
In 2014, he unambiguously supported the Liberals’ deregulation agenda:
“I support unreservedly and wholeheartedly every element in the Budget. Every single one.”
“I support the reforms to higher education.”
Malcolm Turnbull, 2GB – 5 June 2014
At that time, the Government claimed fee deregulation was necessary because surging enrolments were placing pressure on the Budget.
That claim was always hollow. The only funding crisis was the confected one caused by the threatened 20 per cent cut.
Now the latest MYEFO data confirm what last year’s outlook also found – that unmet demand has largely been absorbed and demand for undergraduate places is levelling off.
The goal Labor set when we were in government – 40 per cent of 25-34 olds holding a Bachelor degree by 2025 – has already been achieved in many parts of Australia, 10 years ahead of schedule.
Deregulation is a failed agenda, already twice rejected by the Senate. Malcolm Turnbull should scrap it and go back to the drawing board.
Labor will stand firm against the Liberals’ plan for $100,000 degrees, and we call on Richard Di Natale and the Greens not to waver in their resolve, either.
Senator Di Natale last week hinted that the Greens would be willing to negotiate with the Government on higher education.
He may be dazzled by the illusion of dealing his party into power, but any such deal would be a betrayal of Australian students and their families.
Australians have repeatedly made it clear that they oppose the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s plan for deregulation, $100,000 degrees and massive funding cuts.
Unlike the Liberals and the Greens, Labor has a clear plan to invest in every student to ensure more Australians graduate with the skills and knowledge they need for the jobs of the future.
A Shorten Labor Government will:
- Increase the number of students completing their study by 20,000 graduates a year from 2020.
- Deliver more information for parents and students so they can make good decisions about university.
- Introduce a new Student Funding Guarantee to remove the need for higher fees and a lifetime of debt.
- Invest $31 million to boost the quality of teaching and resources in our universities.
- Establish an independent Higher Education Productivity and Performance Commission to ensure graduates meet the needs of the future economy.
- Offer a Startup Year at university to young Australians looking to start their own enterprise.
- Boost the number of young Australians taking up STEM courses at university as well as upskilling 25,000 teachers.
Only Labor is committed to investing in higher education to create and sustain the jobs of the future.