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Higher fees will not make Sydney University a fairer institution – NTEU

NTEU News     |     27 October 2014

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The National Tertiary Education Union has disputed the vice-chancellor’s claims that deregulation will make the University of Sydney a fairer and more open institution.

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Go8 Equity scalesMichael Spence, vice -chancellor of The Sydney University has said that if the government’s higher education policies are passed then his university will be able to use increased student fee income to double the amount it spends on student scholarships from $80m to $160m and increase the number of students eligible for equity based scholarships from 700 to 9,000.

But the National Tertiary Education Union says that the “simple arithmetic” of the new Commonwealth Scholarship scheme does not add up.

Under the Abbott government’s proposed Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme, universities would be required to set aside 20% of increased student fees for disadvantaged student scholarships. The 20% applies to increased fee income above that necessary to offset the 20% cut in funding per student in the government’s higher education legislation currently before the Senate.

According to the NTEU, the latest financial data shows Sydney currently receives about $300m in fee income from Commonwealth supported students. This would need increase by 30% ($90m) just to compensate for cuts to government funding. In order to raise Spence’s $80m for the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme fee income would have to rise by $400m. In other words, total fee income would need to increase from around $300m to about $790m, or about 160%, for the University to fulfil its commitments to doubling the value of scholarships from $80m to $160m.

Given that the average Commonwealth supported student contribution is in the order of $8,000, the NTEU calculates  this would mean that the average student fee would have to increase to about $20,800 or on average by $12,800 per student.

 However, if Sydney University wants to give a scholarship to one third (about 9,000) of its students, then the average value of each scholarship funded from the fee increase is about $8,900 per student.

That is, on average all students will be worse off. For the two thirds of students who do not receive a scholarship, they will be paying $12,800 on average more than they are under the current arrangements. And for students in receipt of a scholarship, they will be on average $3,400 worse off than they are now.

The NTEU has published an analysis which it says shows the design of the scholarship scheme is structurally flawed because universities with the highest proportion of disadvantaged students cannot offer the same value or number of scholarships as universities with lower numbers of disadvantaged students.

See
The simple arithmetic of inequity 

 

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