A degree shouldn’t be a debt sentence for Canberra students

Shadow Higher Education Minister Senator Kim Carr will today visit the University of Canberra to meet students and staff as part of Labor’s ‘A Degree Shouldn’t Be a Debt Sentence’ campaign.

This week, around Australia, staff and students are taking part in campus events and being asked to sign an online petition as part of the campaign against the Abbott Government’s radical and unfair higher education package.

Senator Carr said the two major universities in the ACT would lose an estimated $124 million in 2016-2019 as a result of the Abbott Government’s broken promise on cuts to course funding. This does not include additional losses from cuts to indexation and research and equity programs.

“The estimated course funding cut to the University of Canberra is $59 million and to the Australian National University $65 million,” Senator Carr said.

“These universities will have to raise their fees by a minimum of 30 per cent just to recoup these cuts – that’s a big slug on students.”

“And that’s before you factor in the effects of fee deregulation, which the University of Canberra’s highly regarded NATSEM estimates could double and even triple the costs of some degrees.”

“This is modelling the Education Minister, Christopher Pyne has dismissed as flawed – just as he has dismissed every bit of modelling showing how steep fees will be.”

“Of course, we’ve yet to see the Minister himself release any modelling, and the question is: why?”

“The truth is, Mr Pyne knows as well as the experts that the $100,000 degree is not a myth.”

“His talk of some fees going up, some going down is complete nonsense – he hasn’t produced a single example from anywhere in the world where fees go down after fee deregulation.

“Taking Australia down the American route will be a disaster for many students – particularly for those from low-income backgrounds, regional and rural areas, and women – who will be priced out of the market.”

“Labor believes it is the Government’s responsibility to fund higher education and research properly – not students who already pay among the highest fees in the OECD.

“The Coalition promised before and after the election: no cuts to education, no increases to university fees, a continuation of the current funding arrangements.

“Labor will hold them to those promises and will fight against a degree becoming a debt sentence for young Australians.”

The Abbott Government’s Budget cut of $5.8 billion from higher education and its changes are triple-hit to students:

  • Cutting funding for undergraduate places by up to 37 per cent;
  • Deregulating fee levels, allowing universities to charge what they like; and
  • Introducing a compounding real interest rate of up to 6 per cent for all HECS-HELP debts – future and existing.

Labor opposes the Abbott Government’s Americanisation of Australian universities through higher fees, crushing student debt, reduced access and greater inequality.


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