Greens Senator and higher education spokesperson Lee Rhiannon stated that Professor Hilmer’s plan to allow universities to set fees for bachelor degrees would push an unacceptable cost burden on undergraduate students and is a poor substitute for increasing government funding.
“If universities were given the power to set bachelor course fees it would be a massive blow to people from low socio-economic backgrounds who were hoping to gain higher education qualifications,” Senator Rhiannon said.
“Professor Hilmer’s plan could limit the chances for people on low incomes to go to university or choose high-fee courses.
“Rather than pushing more costs onto undergraduate students, Professor Hilmer should call on the government to grant the ten per cent increase in base funding that the Bradley Review recommended.
“Funding per student place has plunged in real terms by 30 per cent since 2007. While Labor has increased spending on higher education, the real value of base funding has not increased since 1994.
“The Greens support the Labor government’s aims to open up higher education to all Australians, but this endeavour will fail without additional government funding.
“The Hilmer plan should be a wakeup call to Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans that the government needs to come up with a funding plan that does not put the burden on students”, Senator Rhiannon said.