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As a part of the Guild’s “We Will Not Be Left Behind” campaign, students are demanding that the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) be redesigned to provide a fairer and more equitable education system for all.
Australian students pay more for their education than the OECD average. At the same time, the Australian government only contributes 3.9% of public funding (based on GDP) towards education, which is well below most other OECD countries.
“Students struggle to pay for necessities, let alone save for a house or plan for their future under the current Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) repayment arrangements,” said Finlay Nolan, Curtin Guild President.
In recent years, a lowering of the HELP repayment threshold has meant that students now face repaying their debts before earning enough to be considered a decent salary upon graduation.
“The hypocrisy of our politicians forcing students to repay their debts sooner is laughable especially considering most of them reaped the benefits of a previously free tertiary education system,” said Ms Nolan.
“Students are tired of being slammed with a huge debt to repay when they graduate while struggling to find employment in their field of study,” she said.
Meanwhile, in New Zealand, students will be will be able to access fee-free university and vocational education in their first year, with plans to extend this policy up to three years by 2024.
“We’re giving the nation’s political parties a chance to engage with young people and students by guaranteeing a fully-funded, fair and equitable higher education system this election,” she said.
According to recent data from the Department of Education, it now takes students 9.08 years to repay their debts compared to 7.64 years in 2007.