Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten will join Shadow Assistant Minister for Higher Education, Amanda Rishworth and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Western Australia and Member for Perth, Alannah MacTiernan in Perth today to demand the Abbott Government scrap plans to cut $471 million from WA universities.
The Abbott Government must abandon its plans to Americanise universities by introducing $100,000 degrees in Australia.
“A degree shouldn’t be a debt sentence in this country,” said Mr Shorten.
“The Abbott Government has broken its promise not to cut education funding, and students in Western Australia will be forced to pay more as a result.
“$100,000 will push a university degree out of reach for many young Western Australians and their families, and that’s the wrong direction for the nation.”
Labor will meet with students at four Western Australia universities today to hear their concerns about the Abbott Government’s unfair higher education changes, which will burden past, present and future university students with a debt sentence.
Western Australian universities are set to lose a massive $471.3 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.
Amanda Rishworth said young people were upset and angry about the prospect of deregulated university fees and savage cuts to funding, which may lead to some degrees costing students over $100,000.
“Students in Western Australia are very concerned about the Abbott Government’s plans to impose real interest rates on students HECS/HELP debt,” Amanda Rishworth said.
“Soaring university fees and huge debts will prevent many students from being able to afford to go to university, and those who do make it to university will be burdened with debt that will take decades to pay off.
“This is not what the Australian people voted for.”
Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne lied to Australians when they promised there would be “no cuts to education” [Tony Abbott, Insiders, 1 September 2013] and “we’re not going to raise fees” [Christopher Pyne, Sky News, 17 November 2013].
Alannah MacTiernan said “Many young Western Australians are now being frightened off higher education by the size of the debt they may face.”
“It is already hard for young people working and saving to buy a house in Perth – they know starting with a $100,000 HECS debt will make the opportunity of home ownership even more remote.”
“Furthermore, with the Abbot Government’s anti-jobs policies, they question whether their education will lead to a job,” Alannah MacTiernan said.
Labor’s petition to fight the Abbott Government’s radical and short-sighted changes is available at www.alp.org.au/debtsentence
THURSDAY, 14 AUGUST 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
(RISHWORTH) BEK HUPPATZ 0422 687 199
(MACTIERNAN) REWI LYALL 0434 874 329
The Abbott Government’s changes to higher education include:
- Cutting $5.8 billion from universities, including slashing funding for undergraduate places by up to 37 per cent;
- Deregulating fee levels, allowing universities to charge what they like so students may face degrees costing over $100,000;
- Charging up to $3,900 per year for Higher Research Degrees, such as a PhD and Masters programs; and
- Introducing a compounding real interest rate for all HECS-HELP debts – both future and existing. HECS-HELP debts will now be indexed by the 10-year government bond rate, capped at 6 per cent, rather than the consumer price index (CPI).
Source: NTEU Briefing Paper Higher Education Changes 2014-15 Federal Budget