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$5.8 billion of cuts to higher education will devastate universities and hit disadvantaged students hardest

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 14 May 2014

Australian Greens spokesperson for higher education Senator Lee Rhiannon has said the Coalition Government has used the budget to continue its attack on public education and pursue its vision for a more unequal, elitist education system.

“HECS as we know is to be abolished and replaced with an unfair and regressive user-pays model,” said Senator Rhiannon.

“Graduates on lower incomes will now be saddled with a higher debt than those on higher incomes, as a result of the charging of real interest rates of up to 6% on HECS debt.

“It is just incredulous that this government is planning on ripping an extra $3.2 billion from the pockets of students in the form of higher interest rates on HECS and an earlier repayment threshold.

“The government will directly increase student fees by slashing their Commonwealth contributions to student places by $1 billion.

“Postgraduate research students will face thousands of dollars in additional fees and research funding has been cut by hundreds of millions.

“The government will save $500 million by scrapping Start-Up Scholarships for thousands more students than previously expected.

“On top of it all these changes making public universities compete with private, for profit education companies for Government funding will have disastrous consequences on already struggling students and teachers - we’ve already seen the devastating impact that forced competition from private providers is having on TAFE.

“Thousands of TAFE teachers have lost their jobs, student fees have skyrocketed and TAFE campuses have been forced into mergers. The only winners have been the profit-making companies taking advantage of the new rules.

“This budget shows how far Tony Abbott is willing to go in his bid to Americanise our higher education system – and he wants students to foot the bill.”

List of cuts to higher education:

  • Changes to HECS repayment threshold and increased interest rates - $3.2 billion
  • Commonwealth funding for course fees cut - $1.1 billion
  • Scrapping Start-Up Scholarships for more students - $504 million
  • Relocation Scholarships cut - $290 million
  • HECS discount for priority courses scrapped - $87. million
  • ARC funding cuts - $75 million
  • Higher Education reward funding cuts - $121. million
  • Research training cuts - $170 million
  • Access and Participation Grants cut - $51 million 
  • Decreasing indexation rates for grants - $204 million
  • Cuts to Tertiary Education Quality and Standard Agency - $3.1 million
  • Total cuts - $5.8 billion
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