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Howard Government must act to stop student fee hikes.



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Media Release Media Release Media Release Media Release Jenny MacklinMP Jenny MacklinMP Jenny MacklinMP Jenny MacklinMP

HOWARD GOVERNMENT MUST ACT TO STOP STUDENT FEE HIKES

The Howard Government must intervene to stop universities hiking up postgraduate fees.

A proposal by the University of Melbourne to increase the cost of postgraduate courses by up to 31 per cent shows that universities are introducing severe fee increases following the implementation of the Postgraduate Education Loans Scheme (PELS).

PELS was introduced in January this year to allow students interest free loans for postgraduate coursework degrees. Students can borrow up to the limit of their postgraduate coursework fees.

The Howard Government’s cuts to higher education mean that universities are resorting more and more to raising student fees as a source of revenue.

The University of Melbourne’s proposed fee increase shows that universities are taking full advantage of the fact that PELS loans are uncapped and are massively upping their course fees in response. The proposal has been submitted to the university’s Planning and Budgets Committee and will be considered at the Planning and Budgets Conference to be held later this week.

The huge fee hike renders null and void any assurances made by former Education Minister Dr David Kemp that unregulated PELS would not result in steep fee increases.

On 16 February 2001, Dr Kemp said that universities would not hike up fees in response to PELS and, if they did, the Government would legislate to cap loans:

I have asked my Department to monitor postgraduate fees and to report on these in the annual higher education reports. The relevant legislation will provide me with the power if necessary to impose a cap on student borrowings, but I trust that responsible behaviour by institutions will not require this power to be exercised.

Melbourne University’s proposed fee hike comes not six months after the introduction of PELS and demands immediate action from the Howard Government to honour Dr Kemp’s commitment.

The Howard Government must immediately impose a loans cap to stop universities from profiteering from PELS, and restore adequate funding to the higher education sector.

More info: Jenny Macklin 0419 593 622; Joanna Brent 02 6277 4868, 0408 473 278 11 June 2002

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Deputy Leader of the Opposition Deputy Leader of the Opposition Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Shadow Minister for Employment, Education, Training & Science

Federal Member for Jagajaga