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Nelson has a long way to go.

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Media Release Jenny MacklinMP


Deputy Leader of the Opposition Shadow Minister for Employment, Education & Training Federal Member for Jagajaga

If the Education Minister is serious about making his unfair university changes acceptable he must address core issues like indexation and his plans to increase the unfair debt burden on Australian students and their families.

Time and again the Minister has been told that the number one problem for universities is the lack of indexation of grants. Time and again he has ignored this concern and pushed ahead with his plan to make students and their families pay more.

Without the proper indexation of university grants, every university will have to put its fees up by 30 per cent just to tread water.

Professor Bruce Chapman told a Senate Inquiry on 10 October that:

“… if there is no change to the indexation - and this sort of price instrument [30 per cent HECS increases] inevitably means a radical change in the burden of financial resources - no institution will be able to survive down the track without increasing their HECS charges … All the institutions down the track in my view will have higher HECS arrangements.”

The Minister talks about reform and flexibility, but forcing all universities to put up fees just to pay their bills is not reform - it’s just a price hike.

In response to the Howard Government’s unfair university changes, in June the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (AVCC) put the lack of indexation at the top of its list of concerns.

Only one of the 17 wide-ranging concerns raised by the AVCC has been even partially addressed by the Howard Government.

The Government has ignored AVCC calls to: • proper indexation of university grants; • lift the HECS repayment threshold to $35,000; • remove the real rate of interest on student loans; • improve student financial assistance; • commit to life long learning by indicating how the 5 year learning limit may be renewed; and • drop its ideological industrial relations conditions on $404 million of desperately needed funding.

The Government’s package remains deeply flawed with a 30 per cent price hike in HECS; the doubling of the number of $100,000 full fee degrees and a shortfall of 20,000 HECS places.

Labor’s fully costed and fully funded $2.34 billion policy, Aim Higher, includes $312.7 million to properly index university grants to maintain and improve quality, increasing the HECS repayment threshold to $35,000 and improving access to student financial support.

For further information: Caroline Turnour 0408 473 278 November 21 2003