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Legislation introduced into the lower house this week by the Minister for Education continues to attack the bottom-line of university funding.
The Higher Education Support (Charges) Bill proposes introducing an annual fee to charge universities for the administration of the HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP loan system. At the same time, the Higher Education Support Amendment (Cost Recovery) Bill facilitates the collection of the annual fee and also imposes and application fee for prospective FEE-HELP providers in order for the government to recover costs related to the administration and assessment of these applications.
“What we continue to see is a government that has no issue with the perpetual de-funding of the most valuable sector in our economy,” said Finlay Nolan, Curtin Guild President.
“This legislation is just another attack on university funding where students will ultimately wear the cost,” she said.
Cost saving measures like these are becoming more commonplace. A reduction in the threshold at which university students have to repay their debt was reduced on July 1st, 2019 to $45,881. This means university graduates will have to repay their debt when their income barely exceeds the minimum wage. A freeze on Commonwealth Supported Funding at 2017 levels was imposed as another budget savings measure for 2018.
“At the end of the day, if a university has less money, it will be the students who suffer. Fewer teaching staff, reduced contact hours, and a less accessible higher education system will be the result of more fees being imposed on universities. This must stop,” said Nolan.