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Nelson caught out.

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Media Release Jenny MacklinMP

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Shadow Minister for Employment, Education, Training & Science Federal Member for Jagajaga


Education Minister Brendan Nelson was caught out on national television today when he claimed that, under the Howard Government’s proposed loans scheme, students would have the money to pay for full fee university places.

Asked about the Howard Government’s student loan scheme, under which students can borrow a maximum of $50,000 at 6 per cent interest, Brendan Nelson said that: “We are now saying to those [low-income] students, do not refuse a fee-paying place simply because you cannot access the money. We’re making the money available to them”.

Laurie Oakes: “But hang on. Aren’t you only making $50,000 available for courses that can cost up to $150,000?

Brendan Nelson: “Well, Laurie, making that $50,000 available makes sure that students have what I think is a reasonable level…”

Laurie Oakes: “Sure, but it’s dishonest of you to say that you’re…making the money available.’

As interviewer Laurie Oakes pointed out on Channel Nine’s Sunday program, the Howard Government’s proposed loans scheme would only cover $50,000 of the total cost of a course, with students and their families left to make up the difference.

Already full fee paying students are paying up to $144,000 for a degree. Even with a Howard Government loan, these students and their families would still have to find $94,000 to get a university place.

Many parents want their children to have an opportunity to go to university, but already struggle to help their kids out with fees, accommodation and living expenses. Few families could afford to come up with an additional $94,000 in tuition fees.

The Howard Government’s plans for higher education are a recipe for higher debt for students and their families, with university education increasingly pushed out of the reach of low- and middle-income families.

More information: Adrian Rollins, 0438 950 375