Australian Greens spokesperson for higher education Senator Lee Rhiannon has today called on Education Minister Christopher Pyne to rule out regressive and unfair changes to the HECS repayment system in this year’s federal Budget.
“Suggestions from some economists that the repayment threshold for HECS debt should be decreased from $53,000 to $10,000 (http://bit.ly/1yrYlbb) should be immediately rejected by Minister Pyne,” Senator Rhiannon said.
“Forcing graduates to pay back their HECS debt when they are earning substantially below the full-time minimum wage and below the tax-free threshold is an incredibly unfair way of paying for higher education.
“Student debt in Australia is ballooning – from $29 billion in 2012 to an expected $70 billion in 2017 – and would rise much faster under fee deregulation.
“The Abbott government needs to stop trying to shift the cost burden of higher education onto students, should rule out increases to student fees and HECS debt interest rates and increase public funding for higher education.
“Australia spends far less on higher education than the OECD average and it’s time to rectify that if we want world-class learning and research institutions and high quality graduates,” Senator Rhiannon said.