Commenting on the Coalition's plan to cut higher education costs by charging students more and caping university places, Greens Senator and higher education spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said the opposition policy would create a barrier for people from low-income backgrounds and drive down equity in our universities.
"It is becoming clear that an Abbott government would push more costs onto students and they should come clean about how high they would increase fees," Senator Rhiannon said.
"Coalition higher education spokesperson Senator Brett Mason's failure to provide any policy details suggests he and his conservative colleagues are trying to work out how to sell an unpopular and unfair higher education policy.
"The Coalition appears to be testing the waters on how big a HECS fee increase they could get away with.
"Any attempt to reduce the higher education budget through a possible 25 per cent increase to university HECS fees would make it harder for low-income people to go to university.
"Large hikes in tuition fees last year in the UK last year led to an 8.7% drop in the number of university applications, according to the admissions service.
"Australia does need a debate about the future of higher education but it needs to be in the context of how we achieve equitable access to affordable or free education for all domestic students, supported by appropriate living allowances and minimising student debt.
"The Greens are campaigning for a 10 per cent increase to base funding per student at public universities as recommended by the Bradley Review.
"Australia's future social and economic well being depends on a strong higher education system that is not undermined by cutbacks in the education budget and making students pay even higher HECS fees," Senator Rhiannon said.