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Quelle surprise (2): Go8 takes a contrary view on fee deregulation

The Australian    |    5 June 2014

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Go8 logo newAustralia’s elite universities have broken ranks with the higher education peak body, saying bungled reforms under Labor make Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s unpopular changes “necessary” and “inevitable”.

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Mike Gallagher, executive director of the Group of Eight universities, says the Abbott government had no “realistic policy Michael Gallagheralternatives” to its proposed budget reforms, which will see funding rates cut, student fees deregulated, a real interest applied to student loans and universities exposed to private sector competition.  Although he stopped short of declaring them to be divinely inspired, Gallagher told a Brisbane conference that the reforms are “necessary”:

They are logical, coherent, sustainable, equitable and inevitable.

The government has been reeling under widespread criticism of its proposals, student protests and confusion over policy detail.

But Gallagher said  the higher education reforms are ”not quite as radical as the demonisers of competitive markets in education allege” and depicted critics of the budget reforms as supporters of “socially regressive subsidies from general taxpayers to more advantaged segments of the community”.

fred hilmerMeanwhile Fred Hilmer, head of the University of NSW and a long time and strident proponent of fee deregulation, slammed Universities Australia modelling, which showed fees soaring, saying it was based on a “fundamental misunderstanding of the way the system works and does not represent the view of UNSW”.  Hilmer said that “it is up to universities, not Canberra, to decide what fees should apply to which courses”.

None of this fits easily with fellow Go8 vice-chancellor Glyn Davis’s  acknowledgement that student fees at Melbourne University will need to rise by up to 61% in some courses to manage federal budget cuts.  Price hikes of a similar scale are predicted for Sydney University.

The government is claiming that graduates would pay $3 to $5 a week extra in loan repayments under the proposal to charge compound interest on student loans. Depends on how much the loan is, really, and its term, which is what the UA modelling is a shot at showing.

See
Micro – economic reform of the Australian higher education industry: Implications of the Abbott Government’s Budget of 13 May 2014
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