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Raising fees not the answer.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA WEDNESDAY APRIL 4 2007

SENATOR NATASHA STOTT DESPOJA AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS HIGHER EDUCATION SPOKESPERSON

RAISING FEES NOT THE ANSWER

The Australian Democrats reject the recent comments by the Vice-Chancellor of Melbourne University, Professor Glyn Davis AC, that university fee caps should be scrapped.

"I respect Professor Davis and his continuing contribution to Australia's higher education sector but I think his view that rising fees have not deterred students from attending university misses the mark," Democrats' Spokesperson for Higher Education, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said.

"A university degree is often a prerequisite for entry into a wide range of careers. Of course, students largely will be willing to take on fee debt in order to have a chance at the career they want but that does not mean that increasing fees makes minimal difference to students.”

A recent report by the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee highlighted the level of financial stress felt by students, with an increase in the proportion of income that students are obtaining from paid employment, and a huge increase in the number of students reporting that this employment adversely affects their studies.

"We are experiencing good economic times and the Government should commit to appropriate indexation of university grants to allow the sector to improve course delivery without raising fees for students,” Senator Stott Despoja said.

"Our students are vital to our future competitiveness. Increasing the financial stress our students face is not in our national interest.”

Media contact: Raina Hunter - 0417 085 260