What the HECS?! Why is my education a debt sentence!?
This Wednesday, the 27th of March, is the National Union of Students’ (NUS) National Day of Action (NDA). Students across the country are rallying in their capital cities to ask the government “Hey Baby Boomers – Where’s our Education Revolution?” The day is to remind politicians that “[We won’t] pay more for less: our education is not for profit.” Your local NDA event will be starting at 1pm at The University of Technology’s Broadway campus, where students from across the state will march up City Road to The University of Sydney. There will be speakers at the beginning and end of the march, sharing their experiences on our current education crisis and what we can do to fight for quality, free, education.
A central demand of the rally is that our government abolishes the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) and provides free-universal education for all. Both Tony Abbott (Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Laws) and Julia Gillard (Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws) received their degrees under the free education policy introduced by Gough Whitlam in 1974. Therefore, the exact people who have never had education debt to repay are trying to increase ours. I’d say that’s a little more than slightly hypocritical.
In 1989 the Hawke Government introduced the HECS system and in 1990 the average university graduate took approximately 8.5 months to repay their debt. This has been increasing ever since. In 2000 it took an average of 5.9 years to repay and by 2010 it was a huge 7.9 years worth of repayments. Now, in 2013, the average student must spend a decade repaying their HECS. (This is of course only domestic students, as most international students who study in Australia are required to pay their fees upfront.) This is unacceptable. Education should be provided free of charge by the state. It should be accessible to all. If we redirected the $24.2 billion/ annum national defense budget towards education, we could make huge advancements in the quality of education and serious reductions in the cost to students.
If you don’t want to leave university with over a decade’s worth of debt to repay, join the NDA march and help us send a strong message that students are serious about demanding the education revolution that we were promised