Nationals Senator, Bridget McKenzie, said it was disappointing students who attended her office unannounced today are falling for a Labor/union led scare-campaign.
“I would have welcomed the opportunity to talk to these students about the government’s proposed higher education reforms had they requested an appointment,” Senator McKenzie said.
“It is a shame this didn’t happen because these students, like all regional students, will benefit from these changes.
“Through deregulation, regional universities and other providers will have the opportunity to offer more courses and compete to attract more students, leading to competitive prices.
“The government will also expand the current system to students completing sub-bachelor courses, and extend Commonwealth support to private universities and non-university higher education institutions, benefiting an additional 80,000 or more students, many of them from regional Victoria.
“These initiatives mean that universities, colleges and TAFEs in regional areas like Bendigo can offer more courses, as is happening now with La Trobe University.
“Students have welcomed the move to abolish loan fees of up to 25 per cent, stating it will undoubtedly ease the financial burden, as will the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme. The government will also continue to provide $274 million in regional loading to help universities with the operating cost of regional campuses.”
Senator McKenzie rejects claims deregulation will lead to hefty course fees.
“Such claims by Labor and unions are deliberately misleading and lack substance. It’s a bit rich of Labor which, when in government, announced cuts of nearly $7 billion to higher education grants and student support,” she said.
“The reliability of the methodology of behind two of the most referred to studies from the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) have been questioned more broadly.
“Even the NTEU admits in its report that not every university degree at every university will cost $100,000 despite its rhetoric on the contrary, along with some dubious calculations.
“The groups representing universities have issued public statements and modelling showing that universities can be relied on to act responsibly in setting fees. It makes absolutely no business sense whatsoever to jack up fees that would only result on empty lecture theatres and tutorials.”
If the bill for these reforms doesn’t pass:
• An estimated 80,000 students will miss out on Commonwealth support each year by 2018.
• Thousands of students will still face loan fees of up to 25 per cent.
• Thousands of disadvantaged students will not get assistance to access a place at university or support for living costs through the proposed Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme.
• Key research infrastructure, the jobs of 1500 technical and support staff and work of up to 30,000 researchers would be impacted by the cessation of vital research infrastructure funding. Some of our biggest research projects would be hit hard.
• No further Australian Research Council Future Fellowships will be awarded, meaning top future researchers will head overseas or abandon research careers, undermining the pipeline for Australia’s future research workforce.
• There’ll be insufficient funding to support the full range of research priorities, and
• Australian universities would, in the judgement of Universities Australia, be condemned to inevitable decline and our $15 billion education services industry would be at risk.
“Students should ask Labor why it intends to put all of this at risk,” Senator McKenzie said.