Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of interview with Tony Eastley: ABC Radio FM: 27 August 2012: Liberal’s plans for higher education

Download PDFDownload PDF

SENATOR THE HON CHRIS EVANS Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research Leader of the Government in the Senate


ABC RADIO AM 27 August 2012

Subjects: Liberal’s plans for higher education

TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Government says the Opposition has tied itself in knots and in doing so has revealed its ‘radical’ higher education agenda.

As the Coalition's education spokesman Christopher Pyne tried to scotch speculation about plans to raise the cost of university courses and limit the number of student places, he pledged the Coalition would bring back full fee paying places for Australian students.

From Canberra here's Alexandra Kirk.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Federal Government has been trying for months to flush out the Coalition's higher education policy, without success.

The Opposition's argued the exact details depend on many things including the state of the Commonwealth's finances.

But it's now shed some light after a weekend report that the Coalition's razor gang is considering whether to charge students 25 per cent more for their degrees and put a cap on university places, which Labor removed in 2007.

The education spokesman Christopher Pyne released a brief statement saying ‘the Coalition has no plans to increase university fees or cap places’. He added, ‘Only the Coalition supports bringing back full fee paying places for Australian domestic students,’ currently restricted to overseas students, saying, ‘that alone would give universities greater freedom to grow’.

CHRIS EVANS: Conservative governments both under Howard and in the UK, when they have to find money they attack tertiary education.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Minister for Tertiary Education Chris Evans doesn't accept Mr Pyne's assurances, claiming an Abbott-led government would cut higher education spending and pass the costs onto students.

CHRIS EVANS: With a $70 billion black hole they're going to have to find savings measures elsewhere to fund paying Rio and BHP back the super tax on their mining profit.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Minister says even if the Coalition didn't cap places or raise fees it couldn't possibly deliver on its third promise because no-one would opt to pay the full cost of a degree if they had the choice of a Commonwealth subsidised place.

CHRIS EVANS: If there's no cap then there's no market for people to pay the full fee. They could access a Commonwealth supported place.

I mean what the Liberals are going to do now is make a cap on the number of places, which means only a select group, an elite group, will get Commonwealth supported places and other people will have to pay the full fees.

Which means quite frankly only those with the capacity to pay $30,000 a year or more will be able to access those places at university.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But the Shadow Minister for Education Christopher Pyne says ‘the Coalition has no plans to increase university fees or to cap places’.

CHRIS EVANS: I don't accept that. If you're going to move to full fee paying places you have to have a cap. In fact they'd have to have a quite tight cap.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Christopher Pyne wasn't available to speak to AM. Neither was the higher education spokesman Brett Mason. Mr Pyne's office says the Coalition will reveal its higher education policy some time before the next election.

TONY EASTLEY: Alexandra Kirk.