Advertisements

A conversation with Christopher Pyne about fees

5 May 2014

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Education minister Christopher Pyne has appeared to endorse a National Audit Commission recommendation that would see a significant increase in university fees.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Pay here

Education minister Christopher Pyne has appeared to endorse a National Audit Commission recommendation that would see a significant  increase in university fees.

The commission’s report, released on 1 May, recommends that the Commonwealth government contribute less to higher education costs, with students picking up the slack. At present the Commonwealth pays , on average, about 59% of bachelor tuition costs and students pay 41%. The commission is calling for the government to pay about 45%, with students paying 55% (an increase of about 30%).

When asked directly about the proposal on ABC’s Insiders program, Pyne said

I do think that there is capacity for students to contribute more to their own education.

There are lots of different ways to let the universities grow their own revenue. But I do think students who pay about 40% in their late income life, so later on when they are earning over $50,000 they start paying, they borrow every dollar from the taxpayer up-front, there are no domestic fee-paying students in Australia. That is a great system, the envy of the world, which we will maintain. But I do think that there is capacity for students to contribute more to their own education, especially knowing that they are very likely to have an unemployment rate below 1% , and also that they will earn, over a lifetime, 75% more than a person without a university degree.

While he praised Australia’s HELP (HECS) system, which allows students to pay back their course costs once they are earning more than $51,000 a year, he said graduates would be likely to enjoy an unemployment rate below 1% and, over their lifetimes, earn 75% more than people without a degree.

 

Insiders

 

Christopher Pyne joins Insiders

FRAN KELLY: Minister let’s go to your own portfolio now because the Audit Commission had a fair bit to say about that. It recommends the deregulation of the higher education system, allowing universities to charge students more for their degrees. I think that echoes a call from the vice chancellors and recommendations from the Kemp/Norton review which you commissioned. Are you on board with universities being able to charge higher fees?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well what I am on board with setting up our universities and higher education institutions into the future to compete with our Asian competitors.

Five years ago there were no Chinese universities in the top 100 universities in the Jiao Tong index. There are now five in less than 10 years. China is catching up to Australia, the UK and the United States.

We have to do two things in higher education policy. We have to set up our universities so they can compete, so that they can fly, to unshackle them from heavy regulation and government controls …

FRAN KELLY: How do you do that …

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: … So I do support that very strongly.

FRAN KELLY: ….and maintain standards? Because I notice that the agency that is set up to maintain standards in the universities, it’s been offering redundancies, it’s had budget cuts. Will you – if you are going to open up that sector to more players, are you going to beef up the standards agency?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: There are two ways to ensure high-quality standards, Fran. One is government regulation. There will always be government regulation. The other is competition because competition ensures the best quality and the best standards. Because without competition, of course, institutions cannot perhaps perform at their best and still receive government support.

So I’m in favour of deregulation. I’m in favour of more competition. I’m in favour of universities being able to reach their full potential. But also I’m in favour of spreading opportunity to more students to go to university. And that’s why I’m very attracted to the recommendations in the Kemp/Norton report about expanding the demand-driven system to sub-bachelor courses, to diplomas and to associate degrees, which are the degrees and diplomas that set students up to go to undergraduate courses and do bachelor degrees, usually from first generation university goers.

We want to have fair deregulation, set universities up for the future by unshackling them and giving them the opportunity to reach their full potential, and spreading opportunity to more students to get a university degree.

FRAN KELLY: Minister, we are almost out of time but are you also in favour of the suggestion students pay more of a share of their course? They currently pay 41 per cent now under the HECS system. The suggestion is they pay up to 55 per cent share, and the government share goes back from 60 to 45. That would save around $1.5 billion. Is that a good idea, and will you pledge that that money saved will go back into the university education area?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Fran, there are lots of ways of funding universities and allowing them to raise their own revenue. I will say this…
FRAN KELLY: I am talking about the share students pay.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Yes, I understand that. The Audit Commission was talking about the share between the Commonwealth and students – the percentage share that they contribute.

There are lots of different ways to let the universities grow their own revenue. But I do think students who pay about 40 per cent in their late income life, so later on when they are earning over 50,000 they start paying, they borrow every dollar from the taxpayer up-front, there are no domestic fee-paying students in Australia. That is a great system, the envy of the world, which we will maintain. But I do think that there is capacity for students to contribute more to their own education, especially knowing that they are very likely to have an unemployment rate below 1 per cent, and also that they will earn, over a lifetime, 75 per cent more than a person without a university degree.

FRAN KELLY: But education funding won’t be reduced? You have pledged there won’t be reduced funding to universities, do you maintain that promise?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: What I said before the election and what will remain the same is that the overall spending on education, both school and higher education spending, will increase. But it won’t be in the Labor Party’s priority area, it will be in our priority areas because we won the election on September 7, therefore, the public expect us to fund our policies, which we will. We won’t be funding Labor’s policies, which in many cases were flawed, expensive and ineffective.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: