Media Release: Abbott must drop higher education policies to prove he cares about children’s futures

Posted 25 August 2014 by Courtney Sloane (NTEU National Office)

Tony Abbott’s concern for children being saddled “with debts that rob them of their futures” is little more than empty rhetoric unless his higher education policies are dumped in full, the National Tertiary Education Union said today.

The package of higher education policies will significantly increase the cost of a university education and leave many graduates with debts of $100,000 or more.

Tony Abbott has forgotten that increased university fees together with the impacts of compounding real interest mean that $100,000 student debts will be common within a decade,” said Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President.

“This Government’s higher education policies will see students saddled with mortgage-sized debts that will limit their ability to take out home loans, plan for young families, and even retirement. In that sense, it truly robs the futures that Tony Abbott supposedly cares about.

“All of the analysis undertaken on the impacts of these changes show that they are highly inequitable and will impact more heavily on women and graduates on lower incomes,” Rea said.

The higher education policies proposed by the Abbott Government move Australia closer to the unpopular American system where student debt now exceeds credit card debt in that country.

“The Abbott Government’s policies will replicate this here. This is clearly demonstrated by an analysis of projected levels of net Commonwealth debt and outstanding HELP debt, which shows that the level of outstanding student debt is likely to exceed net Commonwealth debt by the mid 2020’s.  (see attached Chart). 

“The Government is not reducing debt but simply shifting it onto the shoulders of students and their families. While the US federal government is seeking solutions to address ballooning and inequitable student debt, Australia is moving in the opposite direction,” Rea concluded.