Abbott Government destroys the fair go for regional students

La Trobe University students met with Shadow Higher Education Minister Senator Kim Carr and Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters MP in Bendigo today to discuss their concerns about the Abbott Government’s proposed changes to higher education.

Senator Carr said students were entitled to be worried about the prospect of paying $100,000 for a degree and being saddled with crippling debts that could take years to pay off.

“The Abbott Government’s higher education package and cuts to university funding destroy the dream of a fair go for all in this country,” Senator Carr said.

“Spiralling university fees for young people and crushing debts go against the fundamentals of a fair go, particularly for lower-income and rural and regional families.

“Joe Hockey just doesn’t get how his actions are destroying the Australian dream of the fair go,” Senator Carr told students.

“Having promised no changes to higher education before the election, the Abbott Government has now come up with an unfair policy package that will tear apart one of the best and fairest higher education systems in the world.

“This will be particularly difficult for those studying at regional universities, where they are more likely to draw on students from lower-income families.

“And, with more than $172 million slashed from equity funding for low-income students, that situation will be made even more difficult.”

Ms Chesters said people from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, regionalcommunities and women would be the worst hit by the proposed changes.

“All around central Victoria people are genuinely worried about what these changes are going to mean to them and to future generations of students,” she said.

“There is a very real fear that university will become too expensive for low- and middle-earning families.

“La Trobe’s Bendigo campus has significantly higher numbers of students from a low socio-economic background than the national average, so this will hurt our region more than most.

“We’re likely to find very substantial fee increases across the board, including at La Trobe Bendigo’s campus. This, and an increase in interest on HECS debt, could see the next generation of students crippled with a lifetime of university debt.

“This is not the Australia we want. This is not fair and Labor will fight these changes every step of the way.”