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Irwin slams higher education fees.

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Irwin Slams Higher Education Fees Federal Member for Fowler, Julia Irwin, told Parliament last week that increases in higher education course fees would lead to a shortage of highly skilled professionals.

“Australia is already at the bottom of the list of OECD countries in terms of government spending on higher education. This government’s growing reliance on individual students to fund the full cost of their education is a policy failure of dire proportions,” she said.

She said there were now 96 full-fee undergraduate courses at universities and five courses costing over $200,000.

“For parents in ordinary families wishing to help their children, the cost of those degrees puts them way beyond anything they can afford.

“How could any average family afford to pay $100,000 for even one child, let alone two or three, as the Treasurer suggests we should have.

“It is the young families who are forced to take out outrageously high mortgages to pay for inflated house prices and, on top of that, to pay higher HECS fees if they have been lucky enough to gain entry to a HECS course.

“For the past 30 years, affordable higher education has been the ticket out of Struggle Street for thousands of young Australians including those who came here as children of refugees and who have gone on to contribute greatly to Australia’s growth.

“In 1999, John Howard promised there would be no $100,000 degrees under his government. Today we have degrees costing more than $200,000.

“We are fast going down the path of an American-style system of higher education,” Mrs Irwin said.

{To view Julia Irwin's speech to Parliament, click here}

- 18th August 2006