Higher Education is a RIGHT and not a PRIVILEGE ….. Dumb Government Policy

Morning All,


With the Federal Budget now done and dusted we turn our attention to the announcements made, with a particular focus on higher education.


It is obvious that Australia faces enormous future challenges.


Gone are the days where we were regarded as a manufacturer and producer of goods. We simply cannot compete with other global economies particularly when you consider the cost of labour.


To that end, we need to think differently and our goal going forwards should be to compete on an intellectual level. By this we mean we need to become smarter and for this to occur we require an education system which is world class.


Yes we acknowledge that to build a world class education you need money and lots of it but surely raising fees threefold is not the way to do it.


Our concern here is that education will only be accessible by the privileged few and that this course of action will actually see us fall further behind from a global competition perspective.


No matter how you look at it, the proposed changes to the higher education system will see to it that we adopt a similar approach to that of the United States and this we would argue is not only problematic but ultimately a dumb policy decision.


Below is an article sourced from this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald which discusses this issue further.


A deregulated system for paying university fees will cost students up to three times as much, leaving graduates with $120,000-plus debts, says the architect of the HECS student loan scheme.


Under the new federal budget, universities will be able to set their own course fees from 2016 and real interest will be applied to student debts for the first time.


Bruce Chapman, the education economist behind HECS, told Fairfax Media student fees will go up “significantly”.


”I expect most universities will increase tuition fees to international student fee levels, which are currently about three times higher,” he was quoted as saying.


“The Group of Eight universities will do that pretty quickly.”


Professor Chapman said it was plausible the cost of a bachelor of medical science would rise from $24,000 to $120,000 – the fee for international students at the University of Sydney.


Since the introduction of HECS, interest on student debt has been pegged to inflation – now 2.9 percent.


But now the federal government plans to charge a real rate of interest on student debt – up to 6 percent.


Hardest hit would be students who drop out of university and start out in low-paying jobs or women who delay paying back their debts when they take time off work after having children, said Professor Chapman, who is currently director of policy impact at the Australian National University.


The new interest charges may also deter students from entering university in the first place, he said.


But the Group of Eight universities chairman, Ian Young, said the government’s other major higher education initiative – the extension of Commonwealth support to TAFEs and private colleges – will place downward pressure on fees.


”If universities want to charge a premium, they will have to convince students there is a real benefit to what they offer,” he was quoted as saying.


“This will keep us on our toes and force us to innovate.”


Mr Young added that the requirement for universities to spend 20 percent of extra fee revenue on scholarships for low-income students also addressed equity concerns.


Source: Sydney Morning Herald


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