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Democrats support Flinders students.

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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Australian Democrats Higher Education spokesperson Senator for South Australia 17 March 2004 MEDIA RELEASE 04/188

Democrats support Flinders students

The Australian Democrats said today they understand why students at Flinders University are opposing fee increases.

“I urge Flinders University to listen to its students and reject fee increases,” said Australian Democrats’ Senator for South Australia and Higher Education spokesperson, Natasha Stott Despoja.

“Entry to Australia’s universities should be based on a student’s brains, not their bank balance.

“Fee increases are going to hurt disadvantaged students the most.

“Reports that Flinders is considering to increase 2005 HECS levels by the full 25% allowed, are devastating and would signal a shift from this University’s previously long-held commitment to access and equity.

“The Democrats warned of this kind of fee hike at the time of the legislation yet, the Government - and the Independent Senators - blithely argued fees would not necessarily increase.

“In fact, South Australian Senator, Meg Lees, told Federal Parliament she had spoken to the Vice-Chancellors at the University of South Australia and Flinders University and she said that neither of them had ‘any intention of lobbying for an increase’.

“With a surplus of $14.8 million in 2003 and $10 million in 2002, it is clear Flinders University does not need to increase HECS to break even.1

“Flinders University is also one of the few winners out of Government’s new higher education package.

“According to DEST, Flinders will receive an extra $2.5 million in 2005, an extra $3.7 million in 2006 and an extra $4.2 million in 2007.

“I urge Flinders University to keep students in mind when it does make its decision about 2005 HECS levels,” concluded Senator Stott Despoja.

For media inquiries please contact Senator Stott Despoja on 08 8232 7595

1 Flinders University 2003 Annual Financial Statement