Universities Australia changes its tune on Pyne’s dud package

The Abbott Government’s claims that the higher education sector supports its radical higher education completely unravelled at today’s Senate inquiry hearing in Canberra.

When pressed on the sector’s support for the package, Belinda Robinson, Chief Executive of the peak body Universities Australia

“We’re not backing this package as currently presented – far from it.
Of course we don’t support a reduction of 20 per cent to the revenues of Australian universities. That translates into an almost $2 billion cut. Of course we don’t support that.
We also believe very firmly that the proposals as put forward by the Government in relation to the student loan scheme are brutal. They’ll have a disproportionate impact on women and those who take time out of the workforce.”

The rhetoric Christopher Pyne has been using to justify charging university students more for their education was also rejected by its own author.

The Minister has often said that graduates are $1 million better off over a working lifetime than a year 12 graduate. That claim comes from a report by the Grattan Institute’s Higher Education Program Director, Andrew Norton.

Today Mr Norton told the Senate inquiry into the Government’s proposed higher education changes that he no longer believes this comparison is valid.

In his evidence to the inquiry, Mr Norton went on to agree that it was unlikely the changes would be accepted by the Senate, with a majority of Senators saying they oppose fee deregulation.

In light of this reality, Mr Norton said “it would be imprudent [for a university] to make a major change to [its] business model” on the basis of Mr Pyne’s current package.

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Senator Kim Carr, said: “Mr Pyne still has not yet found a single vice-chancellor who will give unqualified support to his proposals.”

“Now his argument about much higher earnings for university graduates has been shown to be far-fetched, and independent supporters are acknowledging the package is basically dead in the Senate”.

“The more evidence we hear at this inquiry, the more it confirms Labor’s position – this package is fundamentally flawed. Christopher Pyne should simply withdraw his legislation and go back to the drawing board.”


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