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Privatising HECS means students will pay more



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SENATOR KIM CARR

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH, INNOVATION AND INDUSTRY SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING THE LEADER FOR SCIENCE

SENATOR FOR VICTORIA

MEDIA RELEASE

PRIVATISING HECS MEANS STUDENTS WILL PAY MORE

Mr Pyne has once again raised the spectre of privatising the HECS debt but has refused to say where the profit from such a sale would come from.

Shadow Higher Education Minister Senator Kim Carr said any plan to privatise the Higher Education Contribution Scheme would see students paying more.

“If you are going to sell a public asset like HECS and make a profit then you either have to sell it for less than it’s worth, change the rules to increase interest or alter the terms of repayment,” Senator Carr said.

“This means students are the ones who will pay more. It is about robbing future generations to get a quick return, at a reduced rate, on what is a public asset.

“Amanda Vanstone, a key player on the Government’s Commission of Audit, is on the record already advocating for a change in the structure of the HECS scheme, pushing her view that students should start paying back their debts much earlier.

“It is a naïve view of the world to suggest that the HECS debt could be privatised with no changes to how the scheme operates. How else would they make a profit?

“Mr Pyne likes to point to England as an example but he needs to check his facts - when the UK Government announced the sale of their HECS equivalent scheme in 2007 it didn’t go ahead, the money simply could not be found and the cost to students was too high.

“When they announced plans to try again this year it followed a report by a leading investment bank that said to make the sale more attractive you either needed to increase student loan interest rates or compensate any buyer against the risk of lower returns.

“Labor will never lose sight of what HECS is all about and that is ensuring that the cost of higher education is not prohibitive.

“The Coalition needs to remember that HECS is a contribution by students to the cost of their education.

“Labor wants to see all people with the desire and the ability to pursue higher education get the opportunity to do so. A university degree should not be reserved for the wealthy.

“The Abbott Government needs to get out of the mindset of targeting science and education for savings in their drive to find a new privatisation target every five minutes.”

CANBERRA Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Media Contact: Fiona Scott 0407 294 620