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Community campaign against cuts to higher education exposes Coalition's deception

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 23 May 2014

Australian Greens spokesperson for higher education Senator Rhiannon has commended the sustained community campaign to expose Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne's higher education deception.

"Mr Pyne and Mr Abbott are regularly contradicting themselves in radio interviews. We now know that Mr Abbott won't rule out that university fees will double while Mr Pyne can't decide if fees are going to go up or down," said Senator Rhiannon.

"The Prime Minister has also contradicted his own Minister for Education regarding when these proposed changes would be implemented. This government's inability to understand its own policy is confusing tens of thousands of students and their families who are weighing up important decisions about their future.

"In less than eight months of being in office Mr Pyne has introduced sexist, cruel and brutal changes to education that will benefit the rich and private education providers.

"Women, people from disadvantaged backgrounds, low income earners and the 1.8 million Australians who have a HECS debt are set to be severely disadvantaged, and in some cases unable to pay their loan back before they retire.

"Women who take time off work to have children will carry one of the largest financial burdens under the Coalition's higher education plans, with Greens modelling showing a difference of 37% increase of debt for women compared to men who chose to do a 3 year teaching degree.

"While we are seeing a bid to Americanise our higher education system, with students footing the bill, what the Coalition is planning for Australia is worse.

"In the US, students graduate with an average 29,400 USD (31,800 AUD) debt. Under the government's radical reforms, students in Australia could graduate with debt twice as high as that in the US.

"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.

"The Coalition's plans for higher education are in tatters. The cry throughout the country is one of anguish, fear, alarm and anger. Students and families have every right to be upset. The Greens will continue to work with them to stop these cuts in Parliament," said Senator Rhiannon.

Contact: 0487 350 880


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