The Turnbull Government’s budget is set to cut University funding by millions, leaving the hundreds of thousands of University students in Australia to cop the full impact.
Despite universities pleading that they couldn’t withstand more cuts, the government’s higher education reform package is set to cause more pain and lead to higher fees for students.
Education Minister, Simon Birmingham delivered the changes at the start of May in what he described as being a ‘measured, modest and balanced’ reform, something of which is being highly debated by university students nationwide.
The changes to university fees have seen a significant reduction in the HECS repayment threshold, the minimum earnings per year that a student must earn before they are to pay back their student loan.
Previously, a student had to be earning close to $55,000 per year to start repaying their student loan, which has been reduced to an income level of $42,000.
This reduction of $13,000 in the HECS minimum threshold will likely drag close to 200,000 students into paying off their loan earlier than anticipated.
Despite the severe drop in HECS repayments, the government has issued a reduction in the loan repayment amount of 1% for minimum threshold earners, though this repayment can be as great at 10% for top earner thanks to the new reform.
Student fees in the budget are set to increase by 8% starting in January 2018, with a four-year course increasing by up to $3,600 more than the current course cost.
Medical degrees will be the most affected, with a price hike to six-year degrees setting students back up to $75,000.
The changes to the University fees are expected to save the government close to 2.8 billion, with students now paying 46% of their courses and taxpayers making up the rest.
The previous Federal budget under the Abbott government caused Universities to wait in a state of limbo after the considered ‘full-fee deregulation’ policy failed to pass the Senate.
With concerns over the likelihood of degrees costing up to $100,000 under the previous government, the Turnbull government’s Federal Budget, while preventing this, still has a serious impact on Universities and their students through partially deregulated fees, as Universities are forced to raise costs to cover funding cuts.
The cuts were lower than the speculated 25% reduction in funding, but still, has major consequences for the higher education system in Australia.
This isn’t the first time students have been impacted by government changes, with the recent push to discontinue penalty rates, a change which is set to affect the many students currently employed on a casual basis.
The new proposal to now have students start paying off their loans much earlier on in their career has been met with greater conflict, as those affected under the new changes come to terms with the extra burden of repayment.