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Education Minister has got it wrong.

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Media Release Jenny MacklinMP

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

Education Minister has got it wrong

Brendan Nelson’s attack today on Labor’s $2.34 billion investment in the education of Australians at universities and TAFEs is wrong.

The following facts rebut his false claims.

Australian universities are funded on the basis of average student costs. It is therefore wrong to claim that they are funded on the basis of a student’s HECS band.

The Government funds university operating grants. Students repay their HECS loans to the Government and this is accounted for separately. There is no link between HECS fees and operating grants to universities.

If Brendan Nelson’s claims were true universities would have received an increase in funding in 1996 when HECS fees increased. They did not receive any increase.

Brendan Nelson should know that universities receive the same funding for each student place. They are not funded according to how many maths or science students are enrolled. It is therefore wrong to claim universities will be worse off when Labor reduces the HECS fees for maths and science students.

No university will lose funding under Labor’s policy. Brendan Nelson’s table is wrong, wrong, wrong. Universities do not receive HECS fees from students.

Embarrassingly for Brendan Nelson, his own Department’s briefing on Labor’s costings (page 7) notes that Labor’s policy to reduce HECS on maths and science will “have a positive impact on the fiscal balance of $19.7 million over the forward estimates period”.

Overall, a close reading of the Department of Education’s briefing on Labor’s costings shows that Labor’s costings have, if anything, been conservative and responsible.

Australian universities will get every cent promised in Labor’s policy. Every measure is fully costed and full-funded over the Budget forward estimates.

The cost of reducing maths and science HECS fees by $1,600 per year is $43.6 million over the forward estimates period - the amount the Government foregoes in upfront discounted HECs repayments.

More information: Shannon Rees 0409 805330 30 July 2003