The future of universities depends on the kind of Australia we want

The fate of the Abbott Government’s higher education changes would be determined by the answer to a single question, Shadow Education Minister Kim Carr told a conference in Melbourne today.

“It all comes down to this: what kind of country do we want to live in?” Senator Carr said.

“A country that elevates potential wherever it is found, or one that reserves opportunity for those born to means?”

Senator Carr said that the injustices of the package – a 20 per cent cut to funding of undergraduate places, uncapped fees and real interest rates on student loans – had generated an enormous public response.

“Almost two-thirds of Australians reject the Government’s changes because the proposals are fundamentally unfair,” he said.

“The Government has struck at a fundamental principle, the Aussie fair go: the belief in Australia that if you have the ability and work hard, then you should have the opportunity of a quality education irrespective of income, assets or postcode.

“As Labor’s online student debt sentence calculator makes clear, $100,000 degrees would be a reality for many students under the Abbott Government’s plan.”

Senator Carr told the Australian Financial Review’s Higher Education Summit that the much-talked about funding crisis in higher education was entirely of the Government’s own making.

“When the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, said recently that the government ‘will find any way we can to take the money out of universities’ he blew away any pretence that this Budget proposal is about reform,” Senator Carr said.

“The move reflects an ideology of privatisation – an ideology that advocates handing the proper functions of government by and for the people to the vagaries of the marketplace, where profit is the only motive.”

“Make no mistake, this is an argument about money: it’s about money as an expression of political will.

“The Abbott Government says it won’t pay its bills.

“Labor says governments have a responsibility to properly fund our universities.”                                                                          

WEDNESDAY, 12 NOVEMBER 2014


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