Full university fees no solution says union
The National Tertiary Education Union says University of Western Sydney’s Vice-Chancellor Janice Reid is on the money when she says that the Liberal Party’s policy on full-paying university places will deny many Australian students a chance of university education.*
NTEU National President Jeannie Rea said that Australian students already pay amongst the highest fees to attend university in the world, with only students in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Korea paying more.
“Furthermore, according to 2009 OECD figures, they also shoulder one of the highest proportions of personal contribution to higher degree learning in the world, with the Australian government’s public contribution to education being one of the lowest in OECD countries.
“When HECS was first introduced, it was set a rate that was estimated to be the equivalent of 20% of the average cost of a university education. In 2009 the student contribution had on average almost doubled and was about 38%. In 2011-12 dollar values, the contribution a student makes toward the cost of an accounting degree, for example, has almost tripled, increasing from $3,290 in 1989 to $9,080 today.
“A fee hike of 25%, which has also been mooted, would also will disadvantage those who can least afford it. The Minister for Education is right when he says that financial status should not be the basis for determining who goes to un.i”
Rea said that the spectre of amassing enormous debts through HECS and other student loans was a deterrent to the broader and more diverse range of students currently starting to come into universities.
“Do we really want to return to the bad old days when only rich (or the disastrously indebted) get to go to university? Enormous student debt is a major problem in US – and it’s not a road we want to go down. The issue is whether public universities should be substantially publicly funded and work in the public interest.”
Rea said that despite recent increases to university funding, this has come with significant additional expectations and the sector remains badly under-funded.
“Removing the limits on fees will inevitably mean major cost increases for students as universities seek greater income to maintain standards.”
Media comment: Jeannie Rea, NTEU President: 0434 609 531
More info: Carmel Shute NTEU Media Officer: 0412 569 356