Tinkering won't make Pyne's package any fairer

Dropping plans to make graduates repay their HELP debts at real interest rates won't make the Abbott Government's proposed higher education changes any fairer, Shadow Higher Education Minister Kim Carr said today.

Senator Carr was commenting on media reports that Education Minister Christopher Pyne would drop his universally opposed plan to index HELP debts at the 10-year bond rate, in the hope of winning Senate cross-bench support for the changes.

"Tinkering with this package won't make it fair, and won't make it good policy for Australia's future," Senator Carr said.  

"Unregulated fees and a 20 per cent funding cut for undergraduate places would still force up the cost of degrees."

"All the available modelling tells us that in a deregulated system the cost of a university education would double or treble for students in a wide range of courses, including teaching, nursing, science and engineering.

"And, universities would also have to raise fees to subsidise research and the Government's scholarship scheme."

"There is a very real prospect of degrees costing $100,000 or more, and adjusting the interest-rate burden won't change that. Many students would still face unfair fees and crippling debt if the Abbott Government gets its way."

The Pyne package would destroy the fair go that Australians rightly expect, Senator Carr said.

"The Abbott Government is intent on returning Australia to the Menzies era, when university education was a privilege of the rich instead of the door to opportunity for anyone who has the ability," Senator Carr said.

"Christopher Pyne's package is rotten to the core and should be rejected in its entirety."

SUNDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2014


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