Catherine King MP and Andrew Giles MP will today hold a forum at Federation University to listen to the concerns of students and staff about Tony Abbott’s unfair higher education agenda, which will burden past, present and future university students with a debt sentence.
Federation University is set to lose a massive $42.5 million in funding over four years because of the Abbott Government’s savage cuts, and it will be students who foot the bill when universities are forced to increase the cost of degrees.
The campus event is part of the Labor Party’s campaign across Australia to fight the Abbott Government’s radical and short-sighted changes. The campaign website, which includes an online petition, is www.alp.org.au/debtsentence.
“I’m committed to this campaign because Tony Abbott’s plan for $100,000 degrees will be devastating for current students at Federation University, who were given no warning about these changes before they enrolled,” Ms King said.
“Labor is concerned that young Australians will be hard hit by higher fees and higher interest rates on student loans.
“While all students will be affected, the worst impacts are likely to be felt by women and students from low-income backgrounds or from regional Australia.”
“These changes could deter many from coming to Federation University, living and working here, which is a cruel blow to Ballarat and its economy.”
The Abbott Government’s changes to higher education are a triple-hit to students:
• Cutting funding for undergraduate places by up to 37 per cent;
• Deregulating fee levels, allowing universities to charge what they like; and
• Introducing a compounding real interest rate of up to 6 per cent for all HECS-HELP debts – future and existing.
Overall, the Abbott Government’s Budget cut $5.8 billion from higher education. This means universities will be forced to put up fees just to cover the loss of funding.
These changes will lead to much higher costs for degrees and create an Americanised university system of haves and have-nots.
“There has been a loud chorus of concern from students, parents, universities and the wider community about the proposed changes,” Mr Giles said.
“I’m going to Federation University to hear first-hand what these concerns are, and to let students and staff know that Labor stands with them in fighting against these unfair changes.
“I encourage everyone who has concerns about Tony Abbott’s radical agenda to sign Labor’s petition and make their voice heard.”
Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne’s sweeping changes to Australia’s higher education were announced on Budget night without prior consultation or any analysis of the impact on students, staff and universities.
Like so many other measures in the Budget, the higher education changes break promises made both before and after the election.