Australian university graduates could face the biggest increase to their student debt in decades due to rising inflation.
But a federal parliamentary committee is examining a bill that would abolish the indexation of student debts to inflation and raise the minimum income required to start loan repayments.
Australia’s higher education loan system is tied to inflation and increases in line with the consumer price index (CPI), currently at 7.8 per cent.
Download: CAPA & NATSIPA Joint Submission in Response to the Senate Inquiry on the Cost of living
According to the latest data from the Department of Education, over 1.6 million university students are currently enrolled and studying at Australian Universities. Many of these students are young adults who need to balance engaging in their education and securing an income to cover the cost of living.
Thus it should come as no surprise that many university students are currently struggling with the cost of living increases. Most notably, the impact of the increasing cost of living is most severe amongst the most vulnerable disadvantaged groups (i.e. lower socio-economic backgrounds, indigenous, international students, students with disabilities, regional students and women). In our response, we highlight the pain points currently affecting students (especially postgraduates) and key policy areas that will allow more significant support to the cohort we represent.
Angry academics are blaming university chiefs for “dumbing down’’ degrees to enrol students with low levels of literacy and numeracy as “cash cows’’.
With 200,000 international students flying into Australia to begin university courses this year, an alliance of academics and student and postgraduate associations known as Public Universities Australia has criticised falling academic standards.
The PUA has warned a Senate inquiry of the “dumbing down of student assessment tasks to accommodate higher numbers of both domestic and international students with lower levels of literacy and numeracy’’.
“(There is) the widespread attitude among senior management that students are ‘cash cows’,’’ PUA states in its submission, which it says is endorsed by Academics for Public Universities and the Australian Association of University Professors.
The PUA says university leaders frequently ignore the “core functions’’ of teaching, research and community outreach, while prioritising property development and investment vehicles.
It notes significant reductions in sessional class time, teaching instruction and support available to students, with significant increases in staff to student ratios since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.