Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Nelson's figures don't add up.

Download PDFDownload PDF

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Australian Democrats Higher Education Spokesperson 6 July 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/488

Nelson’s figures don’t add up

The Australian Democrats are very sceptical of Minister Nelson’s assertion that students will only pay a quarter of tuition fees under his reforms.

Democrats’ Higher Education spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, said the Democrats believe students will pay closer to 40-45%.

“Law students for instance will pay up to 85% of their course costs and Education students about 35%,” said Senator Stott Despoja.

“Minister Nelson’s figure includes all the discounts for up-front payment of HECS which the majority of students cannot afford.

“The Democrats call on the Minister to release his financial modelling and provide a full explanation of its heroic assumptions.

“In terms of the initial elements of the Opposition’s higher education program, we welcome the tentative steps toward more accessible university study as a positive contribution to the higher education debate.

“The Democrats were the first to argue for a removal of the differential HECS on science and mathematics; for an increase in the HECS repayment threshold to $35,000; and, for the abolition of upfront fees for domestic undergraduates.

“It is somewhat surprising that the Opposition have decided to dribble out elements of their alternative program rather than presenting their package as a cohesive whole.

“The real credibility test for Labor will be whether they are committed to delivering: a) An increase in public investment per student place by a minimum of 20%; b) Lifting participation rates for students from low socio-economic backgrounds, indigenous and rural and remote Australia to levels comparable with national averages; c) Reducing the student component of tuition costs to a fair and manageable level; and d) Fixing punitive and inadequate student income support measures.

“The Opposition’s package will be explicitly analysed during the Senate inquiry into the Government’s proposals in Our Universities: Backing Australia’s Future (the 5th term of reference for that inquiry is: ‘alternative policy and funding options for the higher education and public research sectors’).

“Abolishing full fee paying places re-instates the fundamental principle that merit, not ability to pay, should underpin university entry.

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Australian Democrats Higher Education Spokesperson 6 July 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/488

“The Democrats appreciate the Opposition’s recognition that full fees distorts merit and equity,” concluded Senator Stott Despoja. For media inquiries please contact Serena Rogers 0419 833 571