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NTEU: road to ruin for public higher education

NTEU   |  14 May 2013

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No longer will students gain entry into university based solely on academic merit, but on their capacity and willingness to pay the market price for a degree.

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The Budget has seen Tony Abbott succeed in his quest to be known as an ‘infrastructure prime minister’.

He and Christopher Pyne have paved a road to ruin for our public higher education system.

Student fees will now skyrocket at some universities, university funding has been cut, the cost of servicing student debt will increase and the viability of some of our universities will be undermined by for-profit private providers.

In the Budget the Government announced that it will:
• Uncap university fees allowing universities to charge whatever they please;
• Cut 10% from higher education research funding;
• Increase fees for university students;
• Allow private, for-profit providers access to public funding.

Under Pyne’s privatised higher education sector merit won’t matter: money will.

No longer will students gain entry into university based solely on academic merit, but on their capacity and willingness to pay the market price for a degree.

Uncapping fees will see some degrees soar to a cost of more than $100,000, and increase the likelihood of student loan default.

The NTEU believes a first degree shouldn’t cost a second mortgage.

Yet, students and their families will be hit by a massive triple whammy as result of tonight’s budget; government funding per student is being cut; there will no longer be a cap on the maximum fees students can be charged; and the cost of repaying student debt will increase.

While the Government might have a blind faith in the market, the recently failed Victorian experiment of opening public funding to private for-profit providers in vocational education and training shows that such a policy may well undermine the viability of our public universities. In 2013 half of Victoria’s TAFE institutes operated at a loss.

“Tony Abbott has called himself an ‘infrastructure Prime Minister’ wanting to invest in the future. To this we say, what better investment is there than investing in public higher education?” said Jeanie Rea, NTEU National President.
“We call on the Government to invest in human capital and intellectual infrastructure rather than lumping students with more debt and undermining the institutions that educate them,” Ms Rea concluded.

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