LETTER: ‘Labor’s cruellest blow’ to regional uni students

Sir – The Labor Federal Government’s latest $2.3 billion cuts to tertiary education are both cruel and foolish, and will have a particularly harsh impact on regional students and universities.
The $900 million so-called efficiency dividend will particularly hurt regional universities because they tend to be smaller, so it is much harder for them to make further economies of scale.
Affordability is the biggest barrier to university entrance for regional students. Abolishing the Start-Up Scholarships in favour of more student debt could be the tipping point for many regional families already unsure of whether they will be able to afford to send their children to university.
The Government is also abolishing the discount for students who pay their HECS fees up front.  This is remarkably dumb policy, as it removes the incentive for families who can do so to contribute in advance.
The amount of student debt that will never be repaid to government has ballooned by close to $1 billion in the past 12 months, to $6.2 billion, according to a January 2013 Grattan Institute report.
So, why would the Government put it in place a policy that can only increase that figure?
If Labor was serious about more money for school education, it wouldn’t have replaced the Education Tax Refund – money that had to be spent on schooling – with the so-called Schoolkids Bonus cash splash.
It is also absurd for the PM to expect the States, which have been all but bankrupted by incompetent Labor administrations, to suddenly come up with $5 billion.

Senator Fiona Nash

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Education.

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