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Issue #1657      September 24, 2014

$100,000 degrees very likely

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), who have been accused of exaggeration on their claim that some university degrees will cost $100,000 if the government’s budget changes are implemented, are finding expert allies.

Professor Bruce Chapman, from the Crawford School of Public Policy at the ANU, and architect of Australian current Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) is quoted in the Australian as saying that:

“In the high-demand courses at established institutions you are very likely, over time, to have fees that are double or more”. Julie Hare and Andrew Trounson (3 September 2014) “HECS designer Bruce Chapman calls for action to limit fee rises.”

“Given that existing university fees for popular courses such as medicine and law already exceed $50,000, what Professor Chapman is effectively saying is that there will be $100,000 undergraduate university degrees if the government’s deregulation of university fees is implemented,” said NTEU national president Jeannie Rea.

However, the reality is that $100,000 degrees for domestic undergraduate students studying at an Australian university already exist.

In her second reading speech on the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 Karen Andrews, Liberal Member for McPherson praised Bond University as “a shining example of how competition can produce much better outcomes” (House of Representatives Hansard 2 September 12:35pm).

“What Ms Andrews conventionally forgot to mention in her speech however, is that Bond currently charges domestic undergraduate students $317,000 to study medicine, $127,000 to study law and $95,000 to do a three commerce or arts degree,” said Rea.

The Australian also reported that there are now a number of vice-chancellors feeling very nervous about the prospect of $100,000 plus degrees despite Universities Australia’s strong endorsement of deregulation.

“It seems that some VCs think other VCs might exploit their market power through price gouging and have hinted at the need to have direct regulation through fee caps, or by imposing limits on the amounts an individual can borrow through HELP.

“The government’s Higher Education and Research Bill should be rejected by Parliament as it is ideologically driven, half-baked and very damaging to the Australian people. This government seems intent on destroying the aspirations of ordinary Australians by pricing university out of their reach,” concluded Rea.

Next article – Taking Issue – Going into illegal, criminal war

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