It has been 3 months since the Liberals announced their budget that would see the greatest attacks not just on funding for higher education, but a complete targeting attack on students.
To recap the budget proposed:
- The deregulation of University fees, meaning that Universities have the ability to charge whatever fees they like. This will lead to a two-tiered US style system, and Universities could charge $100,000 or more for a Law degree. Students will be dealing with life long debt.
- A reduction of at least 20% of commonwealth funding per student. Another cut to higher education.
- The introduction of commonwealth scholarships. This is a scholarship that will supposedly ease the burden of fee deregulation and allow more students from low socio-economic backgrounds to attend university. However in reality the Government will not be putting any money towards the scholarship. Universities are stipulated to put 20 cents per dollar received from fees towards this fund. However Universities do not have to put this money away until they break even on the 20% funding cut.
- The implementation of an interest rate of up to 6% on HECS repayments, while lowering the income threshold required for beginning repayments. Currently HECS has no real interest rate attached to it, only that of CPI. The implementation of a HECS interest rate would mean that you would be disadvantaged if you chose to study Law and then work for a NGO, you would be disadvantaged if you were a women because on average you will earn less, you will be even more disadvantaged if you are a woman and chose to have children.
In short Australia’s next will not be able to see a higher education as a right, but will have to make a strategically life long decision of debt at the age of 18.
We are currently waiting for the senate to return in late August
and the Liberal Government to put forward the higher education bill to really understand what we will be dealing with.