Australian Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said the Coalition's claim that they plan to make student support more "equitable" was a deceptive cover for their unfair policy that if adopted would make it harder for disadvantaged people to access higher education ('Student aid: Coalition asks if too much for some', AFR today).
"Opposition spokesperson on universities, Senator Brett Mason, has let the cat out of the bag with his comments on student support, suggesting that the Coalition has a hit list of student services to target for cost savings." Senator Rhiannon said.
"It looks like the Student Start-up Scholarship could be the first program to feel the Coalition's knife.
"This Scholarship is making a real difference to people from low income backgrounds and those from regional and rural areas who wish to undertake tertiary studies.
"The payments of $1025 for six months of full time study cover special equipment and textbooks.
"Senator Mason's comments are consistent with neoliberal attacks on well-funded public education that advocate cost savings through staff cuts and reduced student assistance.
"The benefits of the Student Start-up Scholarship have already been limited. At the end of the parliamentary sitting the Coalition and Labor voted together to delay the indexation of this benefit from 2013 to 2017.
"This assistance should be made more widely available. Any delays or cuts put more financial hardship on students and for many will mean an end to their hopes of a higher education.
"Students in Australia already contribute more to their own education than in many other OECD country," Senator Rhiannon said.