Today the Federal Government will release their budget containing $2.8billion in cuts to universities, increased fees for students, and an unfair retrospective changing of the Higher Education LOAN Program. This is a reform package that is not only condemned by the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) but by every higher education peak body, including, but not limited to, the NTEU, NUS, and countless Universities.
This package takes a swipe at the 3rd largest export sector in the country, a sector that boosts the Australian Gross Domestic Product by 8.5% all in the name of budget repair as if higher education is an example of “bad debt”. CAPA believes with an increase of the GDP of 8.5% and the overall export value of higher education to the economy is the very definition of “good” debt. Furthermore after universities and students already having provided $4billion to budget repair the sector has done its fair share of lifting according to Universities Australia.
The biggest insult to injury is the retrospective changes the to the Higher Education LOAN Program. A decision that had no consultation with the sector itself and a decision that CAPA would expect Professor Bruce Chapman himself to consider unfair. This move is nothing more than a sneaky back door to introducing an extra tax to people earning less than $42,000 which is far below the average university graduate median earning.
Mark Leibler AC, a leading tax lawyer, expressed as much during an episode of Q & A on the 8th of May. Mr Leibler expressed that burdening students would damage the Australian economy and that it was wrong to saddle bother students and graduates in this way. Like retrospective changes to superannuation law that negatively effects the individual it would be equally unfair to retrospectively change someone’s loan repayments in the way the HELP scheme is being changed.
“In every budget the Government has to make decisions but this time it seems that the decision was to consider education and fairness as nothing more than rhetoric,” says CAPA National President Peter Derbyshire.
“No bank would be allowed to change your loan repayment schedule on a whim and there would be an uproar if banks did it to everyone just to cover their own financial mismanagement, how is this any different?” says Mr Derbyshire.
CAPA is calling on the Federal Government to cancel the cuts, unburden the students and show fairness in handling its loans.
For comment: Peter Derbyshire CAPA National President M: 0435 047 817 firstname.lastname@example.org