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.