Media Release: Tony Abbott is Choking Opportunity with Red Tape
Reports that Tony Abbott’s Coalition will oppose the abolition of the seven-year student learning entitlement indicates that the Opposition is more interested in playing petty political games than it is in bettering the opportunities for all Australians to improve their education by studying at university, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) said today.
“I am bamboozled, profoundly confused and greatly disappointed by stories that the Coalition wants to continue to impose a limit on the entitlement Australians have to study at university,” Ms Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President said.
“The only possible motivation to oppose the Government’s proposal to abolish the Student Learning Entitlement or SLE (which currently limits access to a government supported university place to seven years) is crude opposition for opposition sake. It is bad public policy on any number of levels.”
“When the Coalition introduced the seven-year SLE it was essentially saying that we do not trust Australian students or Australian universities.”
“At the time the Coalition clearly believed, and apparently continues to believe, that there is a significant number of students or potential students out there who are intent on rorting the system by becoming long term ‘professional’ government-supported students.”
“The Coalition needs to acknowledge that education is the gateway to opportunity for most Australians, it should be trying to open more gateways rather than close them.”
“It also shows that the Coalition is still finding it difficult to shake the influence of John Howard, who clearly did not trust universities or university staff.”
“In order to discourage this handful of (largely mythical) students, the Coalition is prepared to choke everyone else’s opportunity to study at university in the unnecessary and costly red tape of the Student Learning Entitlement.”
“I call on Tony Abbott and Senator Brett Mason to drop the silly political games and debate the issues on their merits – which would mean the Coalition would not oppose the removal of the SLE.”
For further information and comment:
Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President, 0434 609 531