Higher fees when combined with the new market-determined interest rate, will take more than twice as long to pay back for some degrees. For graduates that take time out from the workforce to care for family members, HELP debts might not be paid off until they reach their late 50s.
Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President said that the proposed changes to higher education will mean that entry on merit alone will be a thing of the past; it will only matter if you are able and willing to pay.
Students will be saddled with enormous debts that will take years and years to pay off, and with higher interest rates than ever before.
These changes to fees and interest rates will have an enormous impact on women graduates as they are more likely to have interrupted careers than men. As women’s salaries still lag behind men’s, women tend to retire with less, and pushing HELP repayments well into their fifties will only make this worse.
The NTEU is calling for greater public investment in Australian universities, not less.
A minimum average increase in university tuition fees of at least 33% just to compensate for reductions in government funding and the introduction of new student funded scholarship scheme.
The lifting of the cap on university fees could see the tuition fees for some degrees reach or exceed $100,000 especially in degrees like medicine, law, engineering and management and commerce.
The introduction of interest on HELP debts is highly inequitable because students from disadvantaged backgrounds will not be in a position to pay their fees upfront.
The changes to HELP are especially unfair for students who elect to take career breaks which means there is strong bias against female graduates.
The size and cost of servicing students loans will be the equivalent of a second mortgage.