Commenting on the Coalition’s proposed changes to universities, Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said the plan should be widely rejected as it will turn universities into institutions accessible only by the elite and lower education standards across the country.
“Minister Pyne’s plan to scrap student services fees and limit the number of disadvantaged students studying at university is a return to the worst of the Howard years when universities were starved of funds,” Senator Rhiannon said.
“The Coalition’s antipathy towards student organisations is driving their decision to abolish the Student Services and Amenities Fee.
"Student services play a vital role in assisting to broaden the education experience and in subsidising child care, legal services, counselling and accommodation that help relieve the financial pressure many students live with.
“It is time that Minister Pyne and his colleagues got over their ideological obsession that student organisations are hot beds of dissent. Student organisations have a right to organise, advocate and provide much needed services.
“Student organisations are best placed to deliver student services. The Greens are calling for student amenities fee to be collected and spent by democratically elected, student-controlled organisations in order to ensure the best and fairest provision of student services on university campuses.
“If Minister Pyne is to be true to his statement that the Coalition will encourage disadvantaged people to attend universities he should start by reintroducing the Startup Scholarship abolished by the former Labor government with the support of Coalition.
“The Greens support opening up higher education to all Australians, but this endeavour needs go hand in hand with additional government funding.
“If the Coalition wants to deliver the quality higher education they say they are committed to, the $2.3 billion cut from university budgets should be reinstated and base funding increased. The real value of base funding has not increased since 1994.
“Funding per university student place in real terms has dropped by 30 per cent since 2007,” Senator Rhiannon said.
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