Tertiary education costs under scrutiny at UWS

The University of Western Sydney has met the federal budget’s proposal to deregulate fees with a freeze on fees for students commencing study this year, after concern the budget measure would price students out of tertiary education and lower enrolment figures.

Here students share their views.

UWS student Michael Robertson. An Engineering degree like his would rise from $25,700 to $48,000 in 2016 if the university were to raise the cost just enough to offset the subsidy cut to the course. Source: LH Martin Institute

UWS student Michael Robertson. An Engineering degree like his would rise from $25,700 to $48,000 in 2016 if the university were to raise the cost just enough to offset the subsidy cut to the course. Source: LH Martin Institute

AGAINST

Michael Robertson is an engineering student and undergraduate member of the UWS academic senate

''As a final year engineering student, I signed an agreement at the start of my degree. I agreed to borrow money, through an indexed loan from the Australian Government, to attend the University of Western Sydney.

The great thing about the previous HECS system was that it was practical and available to everyone. Now . . . you are signing up for untold debt. - Michael Robertson

The new federal budget has broken this agreement and it will start costing me and many other soon to be graduates thousands of dollars in interest when we are trying to pay back our HECS debt.

Like many UWS students I was the first person in my family to attend university and I can't speak highly enough of the [previous] HECS system.

The great thing about the previous HECS system was that it was practical and available to everyone. If you wanted to attend university to pursue a future career and you had the grades, you could. Now if you sign up to HECS you are signing up for untold debt.

I congratulate my vice-chancellor, Professor Barney Glover for standing up to Tony Abbott and freezing the fees for all current UWS students.''

Nicole Anderson supports the deregulation of university fees. Modelling by the LH Martin Institute shows the change to a HELP debt for Law and Commerce courses would be minimal, as both currently have low rates of subsidy. The Institute helps tertiary education providers develop capacity and more effective governance.

Nicole Anderson supports the deregulation of university fees. Modelling by the LH Martin Institute shows the change to a HELP debt for Law and Commerce courses would be minimal, as both currently have low rates of subsidy. The Institute helps tertiary education providers develop capacity and more effective governance.

FOR

Nicole Anderson is the UWS Liberal Club president and a law/commerce student

‘‘Labor delivered the six largest budget deficits in Australian history. As Tony Abbott has said, to get back into surplus ... all Australians will be required to help out. Those that are well off must play the largest role in this. People who complete a degree fall into this category. Census figures show that they earn a million dollars more over their careers than those who do not go to university.

Having the majority of government funding for higher education come from non-graduate taxpayers who earn less is not an equitable system. - Nicole Anderson

Currently we have a system where the 60 per cent of Australians who do not have a degree, subsidise the 40 per cent of Australians who do. Having the majority of government funding for higher education come from non-graduate taxpayers who earn less is not an equitable system. This fact is probably lost on those students involved in those despicable acts of violence against Julie Bishop at The University of Sydney and Sophie Mirabella at The University of Melbourne.

80,000 additional students will receive support under [Christopher Pyne’s] reforms. Campuses will be able to raise more money for programs, and the greater funding and competition between universities will increase education standards dramatically. There will be more scholarships available, with 20percent of all additional revenue from fee deregulation locked in for assistance for students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Students will not pay a cent for their degree until they earn over $50,000 a year. Every single Australian will still be able to afford to go to university under the proposed changes.’’

ON THE FENCE

Andrew Tran is a business and commerce student and University of Western Sydney chairperson, Parramatta campus.

‘‘Initially it will be a heavy burden on current and prospective university students as it will be a change to the norm, but as the years go by the deregulation of fees will aid the university to better the degrees they teach, providing a better education for university students.

However the deregulation of fees will allow universities to implement fees as they see fit, and this may or may not drastically affect students’ ability to live a comfortable life.

If this is the future forecast, current students will not be able to enjoy the simple things in life in the future as they will still be paying off their university fees. - Andrew Tran

The students’ lives are to be heavily influenced by the decisions made by the universities. As the world develops, simple luxuries like reading books and music players become over-priced. If this is the future forecast, current students will not be able to enjoy the simple things in life in the future as they will still be paying off their university fees.

The deregulation will make my life a little more stressful. As I am currently not working, money has been slowly depleting from my bank account.

When I think about the deregulation I feel that my life may get worse because I will have to start saving what limited money I have now to ensure I can pay my university fees in the future.

At the moment I do not plan to do further study because I am eager to jump into the industry and apply what I have learnt to the real world. The deregulation of fees is another factor, but not as strong, because the University of Western Sydney has decided to freeze fees to those that are studying or enrolling in 2014. This gives me hope to consider the possibility of exploring a Masters or an Honours degree in the field.’’

Read more student reaction here.

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