Shadow Higher Education Minister Senator Kim Carr and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Families and Payments Senator Carol Brown today met with University of Tasmania Vice-Chancellor Peter Rathjen and hosted a round table in Hobart to discuss concerns about the Abbott Government’s higher education changes.
Senator Carr said the Abbott Government’s $30 million a year cut to UTAS funding was devastating for the university, for students and their families, and for Tasmania as a whole.
“The university is facing an unenviable choice between significantly raising fees, slashing courses, abandoning research or closing campuses to cope with this cut,” he said.
“Today I met with Professor Rathjen, UTAS academics, students and others in the community who are deeply concerned about the proposed changes.
“The university is a world-class institution and, as the only university in the state, is pivotal to the economic and social future of Tasmania.
“A range of stakeholders have told us that low-income families, regional students and women will be the worst off under the Pyne plan for the Americanisation of our universities.
“This is particularly apparent in Tasmania, where many students will struggle to make it to university and could have their options severely limited by these unfair changes.
“Labor will do all it can to stop Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne from wrecking UTAS and the dream of a fair go for all Tasmanians.”
Senator Brown said the Abbott Government’s $5 billion cuts to higher education would be felt hardest at regional universities such as the University of Tasmania.
“The cuts to UTAS will have far-reaching implications for Tasmanians and the State’s economy,” Senator Brown said.
“Fees will have to rise to recoup the shortfall and many Tasmanians will simply not be able to afford a $100,000 price tag for a degree.
“The increase in interest on HECS debts will further disadvantage Tasmanian students.
“In 2013, there were 6,736 students at UTAS who were from low socio-economic parts of Tasmania.
“The latest modelling by education economist Professor Bruce Chapman shows that poor graduates will pay 30 per cent more than those who are richer because of the real interest on student debts.”
THE ABBOTT GOVERNMENT’S DEBT SENTENCE FOR STUDENTS:
- Commonwealth funding for undergraduate degrees will be cut by up to 37 per cent.
- Deregulating universities to allow them to set much higher fees
- Imposing higher compound interest rates – of up to 6 per cent – on student debts
MONDAY, 4 AUGUST 2014