It’s the beginning of the end…Abbott and Pyne are ready to cut and make you pay!!!!

It is nearly the end of the financial year that means the release of the Federal budget, as well as the change over of the Federal senate.

There is much to be scared about in relation to higher education. Two areas that would dramatically alter the accessibility to Universities, as we know them are the deregulation of fees, and the abolishment of low SES enrolment targets. These two policies combined together will leave a fragmented University system, which will only be available to the upper enchalant who can afford it.

Presidents of student organisations at all of the Group of Eight universities have jointly called for the Federal Government to reject a number of recommendations made in the Review of the Demand Driven Funding System. The report, released on the 13th of April calls for the abolition of university enrolment share targets for students from low socio-economic status backgrounds, the introduction of load fees, and increases to student contributions without any increase in base government funding to public universities.

Low SES students already face significant barriers to participation in higher education. Removing engagement targets for universities could ultimately mean that resources previously dedicated to recruiting and retaining students from low SES backgrounds could be diverted. This is a serious issue that goes to the core value of equal opportunity for all students regardless of their parents’ occupation or the suburb in which they live.

In addition the deregulation of Fees will further enhance the gap in accessibility to Universities. Deregulation allows the Universities to choose the price tag and segment the quality of your education, ie the quality of the teachers, how many students in you lectures and tutorials, and the quality of the content being taught.

As stated in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 23/4 “Students could choose to pay a premium for a particular research intensive course or smaller classes at a particular university or opt for paying a lower fee for fewer options at another institution.”

Although there has been no talk of abolishing HECS, the deregulation of fees will force students to choose between a higher-class education, or a lifetime of debt.

This is just the beginning of the detrimental announcements that will come from Christopher Pyne over the coming months.

Ask Abe: Austudy – maximum allowable time for completion

Dear Abe,
I hope you can help me with a problem I have with Centrelink. I am in my third year of my medicine course and I am on an Austudy payment. Even though I didn’t receive anything while doing my Science degree, they say that it counts towards the amount of time I’m allowed to study and my payments will run out in the middle of the year. Is this true? And if so, what can I do?

Doctor in Trouble

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Dear Doctor in Trouble,

Centrelink should know better. The basic formula for the “maximum allowable time for completion” of your course is the normal length of your course plus the length of one subject. For example, for a Bachelor of Arts course that would be 3 years plus 1 semester. For a medical degree that would be 5 years plus arguably 1 semester (sometimes 1 year). In any case, the time that you took to do the Science degree does not count because it is part of THE way to gain entry into the Medical degree. That is, it is a graduate course. If it was not necessary then the time spent on that course would count. If this is confusing for you please contact SRC help to clarify your details.

Abe.

So You Think You Can’t Be Scammed? Well, We’ve Heard That Before.

A scam is a trick to take your money directly or indirectly by getting your personal details. There are new, imaginative scams being hatched everyday. They even target low income earners like students and come in many forms including mail, e-mail, telephone and door-to-door.

Fake websites can easily be set up to look like the real thing. Giving your personal details to anyone should be handled with a large degree of caution. For example, how many websites have you supplied with your name, address
and date of birth in order to win a competition?

Some of the more recent scams have included lotteries, sweepstakes and competitions. Some are obviously fake, like the Nigerian millionaire dying scam, but some are very subtle, like the competition to win a new Nokia phone. Some scams involve government departments like the tax department asking you to confirm your tax file number so that you can claim your lost superannuation. Some involve people pretending to be from a large computer company offering to help you rid your computer of viruses.

Banks have very strict rules about how they identify you to speak to you. However, they do not seem to be so strict about contacting you and asking for your details. Ask who they are and find the number yourself. Do not give any details, no matter how incidental, until you are sure of who they are.

Mobile phone ring tone offers are another potential scam. Once you sign in, you may
not be able to sign out. This will lead to huge phone bills.

Health and medical scams may offer products or services that will cure your health problems or offer a simple treatment. Often these cures and treatments do not work.

Follow these golden rules to avoid being scammed:

Don’t respond to offers, deals or requests for your personal details. Stop. Take time
to independently check the request or offer.

Never send money or give credit card, account or other personal details to anyone who makes unsolicited offers or requests for your information.

Don’t rely on glowing testimonials: find solid evidence from independent sources (not those provided with the offer).

Never respond to out of the blue requests for your personal details.

Always type in the address of the website of a bank, business or authority you are interested in to ensure you are logging
into the genuine website.

Don’t open unsolicited emails.

Never click on a link provided in an unsolicited email as it will probably lead to a fake website designed to trick you into providing personal details.

Never use phone numbers provided with unsolicited requests or offers as it probably connects you to fakes who will try to trap you with lies.

Don’t reply to unsolicited text messages from numbers you don’t recognise.

Always look up phone numbers in an independent directory when you wish to check if a request or offer is genuine.

Don’t dial a 0055 or 1900 number unless you are sure you know how much you will
be charged. If you are scammed contact the NSW Fair Trading online through Lodge a complaint, call 13 32 20 or in person at one of our Fair Trading Centres. For more information, visit www.scamwatch.com.au