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Higher fees and too few few HECS places under Howard.

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Media Release Jenny MacklinMP


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

The Education Minister has introduced legislation to implement its unfair university changes announced over four months ago.

The Legislation will turn Australian higher education into an American-style system where money more than marks opens university doors.

The Howard Government has cut $5 billion from universities since 1996 and today’s legislation will force students and their families to make up the missing billions.

The Government’s bills aim to hike up student fees. The legislation will allow universities to increase HECS by 30 per cent and double the number of full fees costing as much as $150,000.

OECD statistics released yesterday show that Australia’s student fee structure is already one of the highest in the world scale. We are currently the fourth most heavily dependent on private funding out of all OECD countries.

Today’s legislation will push Australia even further up the world scale for over-reliance on student fees and mean that Australian students and their families must take on massive amounts of debt for a university degree.

Labor will not support any measures to increase fees for Australian students.

Labor welcomes the fact that the Minister has today caved into pressure and reversed his original decision to make universities cut 12,000 student places.

The backdown does not mean one extra place in universities. It is merely a reprieve on places that the Government was planning to cut under its original proposal.

What’s more, the backdown is unfunded and means that universities will not get any funding for any of the 12,000 places the Minister is no longer forcing them to cut.

Under the Howard Government, there will be no growth in student places over the next three years and student numbers will not keep pace with population growth.

By contrast, Labor has announced that by 2008 it would create over 20,000 brand new full- and part time places every year for people starting a degree.

The Howard Government must not delay the flow of funding to cash-starved universities any longer.

More info: Joanna Brent 0408 473 278 17 September 2003