Abbott gaffe reveals higher education shambles

The Abbott Government’s muddled response to the call by universities to delay the introduction of deregulation reveals its higher education plans are in disarray, Shadow Minister for Higher Education Senator Kim Carr said today.

“The Government has clearly failed to appreciate the complexities and repercussions of its radical and retrograde changes to the higher education sector,” Senator Carr said.

“We heard the Prime Minister Tony Abbott clearly contradicting his Education Minister Christopher Pyne on radio this morning and then suggest that it’s the university vice-chancellors who are confused.

“It’s quite clear where the confusion lies – and it’s in the higher education policies of the Abbott Government.”

Tony Abbott said in a radio interview today that only students who start in 2016 onwards would be affected by fee changes.

However, the Study Assist website says otherwise:

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.


“The Abbott Government’s higher education shambles is unravelling before their eyes,” Senator Carr said

“Australians don’t want higher fees, more debt and a US-style university system.

“Bluster and policy on the run can’t hide that this is a government which is intent on cutting universities by $5 billion and imposing huge debt and interest bills on Australian students, graduates and their families.”

TRANSCRIPT – ABC Radio 744 Melbourne, Wednesday, 21 May 2014

JON FAINE: Students have indicated their intention to protest in Geelong today and you’ve cancelled your visit. But vice-chancellors are also protesting and this morning we’ve heard on the radio this morning already that the vice-chancellors are saying your plans for university fee overhauls have to be deferred, there are students making decisions in a few months to start courses and they don’t know what the fees will be for the courses they’re about to start. That’s not fair is it?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, the fees for next year will be whatever the unis say –

FAINE:  No, but they’re planning courses that will go into years two and three and fees they don’t know what they will be.

ABBOTT: Our changes will be from the beginning of 2016 because we appreciate that a lot of planning has already been done for 2015.

FAINE: No, but students will be embarking on courses and enrolling in courses where fees will apply in years three or four and they don’t know what those fees will be.

ABBOTT: If you start a course under one system, you’ll finish it under that system.

FAINE: So the fees will start –

ABBOTT: Correct

FAINE: – in 2016 only for students –   

ABBOTT: – who start in that year, that’s right.      

FAINE: Even still they are saying this is too rushed, it’s too fast, it should be done more slowly

ABBOTT: Well, it’s possible that they haven’t quite cottoned on to that fact, but if you are studying now your conditions of study won’t change, if you start next year, your conditions of study won’t change, it’s only for those who start when these changes kick in in 2016 that we’ll have the different conditions applying to them.


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