University and students reject cuts

La Trobe University’s Vice-Chancellor and Student Union President are concerned by the Government’s decision – confirmed in last night’s Budget – to make students pay more for their university studies.

La Trobe’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, said the Budget measure could deter many students from taking up study.

“We all recognise the powerful economic, intellectual and innovation benefits a university education delivers to everyone in the community,” Professor Dewar said.

“It seems counterintuitive for the Federal Government to talk of boosting innovation and productivity, while also introducing financial hurdles to creating the very workforce that will deliver on that ambition.

“For 50 years, La Trobe University has been undertaking world-class research and educating leaders and innovators from all walks of life. I am concerned that the measures could mean more students from regional Australia or low SES groups – already underrepresented in University lecture halls – being unable to attend university in the future.

“Cutting university budgets is a short-sighted measure that will impact our ability to provide the kind of education that our current and future students will need to thrive in the knowledge economy.

“It is vital to remember that public universities do not make any profit. Our modest annual surpluses are not gifted to shareholders, nor are they sent offshore; they provide the funds we need to reinvest in teaching infrastructure and research activity for the public good.”

La Trobe Student Union President Jake Cripps said the Government’s decision to raise fees and lower repayment thresholds would disincentivise students from enrolling in tertiary education.

“From its inception, La Trobe has been particularly focused on providing access to quality higher education to those from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Mr Cripps. “I am concerned that the Budget locks out those students who need it the most.

“Students are expected to study full-time and work to pay the rent and save for a house. Now this Government is expecting students to pay back their HECS on $42,000 a year. This decrease in the HECS repayment threshold could tip the economic equilibrium that has been successful for almost 30 years.”

Media Contact: Tim Mitchell - t.mitchell@latrobe.edu.au - 0437 457 780

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