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False promise on unis indexation.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Democrats Senator for South Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Higher Education

Dated: 20 April 2005

Press Release Number: 05/187 Portfolio: Higher Education

False Promise on Unis Indexation

The Federal Government's arrogant dismissal of the higher education sector's number one priority means more HECS hikes, more full-fee paying students and more pressure on university staff to make do with limited resources, according to the Australian Democrats.

Indexation has been the top priority for the sector to maintain its viability into the future but yesterdays announcement from Dr Nelson threatens the future sustainability of all universities," said Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, Australian Democrats' Higher Education Spokesperson.

Many universities have blamed their HECS increases on the lack of adequate indexation and the failure to improve indexation arrangements can only mean more costs being shifted onto students.

The Government review of indexation findings, released today, openly lists income from HECS hikes and increases in full-fee paying places as two mechanisms through which the sector can 'continue to achieve strong revenue growth'.

Already it is estimated that students will be paying an additional $800 million over the period 2005-08.

The participation rate of students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds has remained around 15 per cent for the past decade and is likely to drop as the current and future HECS hikes scare more disadvantaged students away from university.

The internal review, conducted by the Government, was always intended as an empty promise. It has no credibility whatsoever and the outcome was always predictable. Senator Stott Despoja said.

The Government has duped the four Independent Senators who voted for higher education legislation changes in 2003. These Senators must now hang their heads in shame.

The AVCC estimates that inadequate indexation has cost them $586 million since 1997, but the Government is still pretending that there is no problem. In their submission to the review, the AVCC stated, "The question of effective indexation is key to the ongoing quality of university services... Each year the value of that investment steadily declines due to the inadequate indexation measure now used."

"By not providing indexation, Dr Nelson will also increase his control over universities by making the only available increase for their basic grants linked to draconian industrial relations requirements and governance requirements.

"Dr Nelson and the Howard Government have lost touch with the sector and are ignoring the needs of university staff and students. Their failure to provide improved indexation is a slap in

the face for all university students, staff and Vice-chancellors," Senator Stott Despoja concluded.