16 February 2015
This week, eager students from across Newcastle, the Central Coast and Hunter region will begin descending on the University of Newcastle for O-Week.
This is a time of anticipation and excitement – a time when students are exploring opportunities for a new direction in life and aspirations for future careers.
But despite all the talk of listening and change, Tony Abbott is leaving Australian students in limbo by doubling down on his broken higher education promises.
The Abbott Liberal Government is still pursuing legislation to cut university funding by 20 per cent and deregulate fees to allow universities to charge students whatever they want.
This package would have particularly savage effects for regional universities, for mature age students, and for people in vital but low-paying professions.
If these cuts go ahead, the University of Newcastle will have more than $153 million ripped out of their budget over four years.
This means University of Newcastle students starting their degrees in 2015 face uncertainty and anxiety, knowing that the Abbott Liberal Government wants them to pay much more for their degrees but the full cost remains unknown.
All the evidence tells us the cost of many courses will double or treble under the Abbott Government’s unfair and unnecessary policy.
There remains a very real prospect of $100,000 degrees for some degrees.
Yet, despite clear community opposition and expert advice that deregulation will be a disaster for equity and fiscal responsibility, Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne are unable to walk away from their ideological agenda.
They’re not listening, they’re not learning and they have not changed.
They’re continuing to condemn students enrolling this year to the prospect of massive fee increases in 2016.
If the Abbott Liberal Government was really listening to the people of Newcastle, the Central Coast and Hunter regions, it would end the anxiety for young people by abandoning its plan to Americanise our higher education system.
Labor will continue to hold Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne to account for their broken pre-election promises that there would be “no cuts to education” and no university fee hikes.