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Greens will fight Coalition’s Americanisation of higher education

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 1 May 2014

Australian Greens spokesperson for higher education Senator Lee Rhiannon has today criticised the Abbott government’s plans to increase student fees and create a more inequitable, US-style university system.

“The Abbott government’s Commission of Audit report puts forward a nightmare scenario for Australia’s higher education sector,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“The government is already proposing to jack up student fees to fund public subsidies to private, for-profit education companies.

“The Commission of Audit’s recommendations go even further, calling for increased fees particularly for teaching and nursing students, charging interest on student debt, and lowering the HELP debt repayment threshold to the minimum wage.

“The Abbott government is already trying to ram through $2.4 billion in cuts to universities. The cuts will increase the debt of the most disadvantaged students by up to 50%, with student debt projected to skyrocket over the next decade.

“Increasing fees even further and demanding students repay them sooner is a recipe for disaster – it will lead to a system that only allows the wealthy to go to university.

“The irony is that the Commission of Audit itself argues that these changes will lead to an increase in government expenditure because more and more debt won’t be repaid.

“The Greens will oppose any attempt to import a US-style system and raise student fees – a first degree shouldn’t cost a second mortgage.”

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