This is an opinion piece.
Out of all the people hit hard by the 2017-18 Federal Budget students are amongst the worst effected.
A smart nation should invest much more into higher education because as we move from a manufacturing and resources based economy to a service based economy there will be much greater demand for higher skilled workers that will need to fit the jobs of the future.
The biggest way this will effect students is the ‘modest’ (as described by Education Minister Simon Birmingham) increases to student fees that will occur. From January next year University fees will increase by 1.8%, and continue to rise until 2021. This means an overall rise of 7.5%.
This is incredibly unfair to a cohort which often struggles to make ends meet.
Not only will students face this fee increase but those who graduate from next year will have to start paying back their HECS debt from $42,000pa as opposed to the current rate of $55,000pa.
This is a huge reduction in the amount of money young people have to earn before they start paying their degree back. The minimum wage in Australia equates to not much less than $40,000pa and the government is proposing this when wage growth is at its lowest rate in 20 years.
This budget also hits students that are receiving youth allowance. In a trial program in three locations yet to be determined a ‘random sample’ of the population receiving youth allowance will now be subjected to drug testing and if they test positive and will have their youth allowance cut.
What disturbs the author most about this drug test trial is that the government will determine a ‘random sample’ of people at risk.
I don’t always agree with Senator Jacqui Lambie but on Wednesday in Parliament she argued that if we are drug testing welfare recipients we should drug test politicians too. I believe the results could be very interesting..
Overall this budget is a real dud for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds trying to get a foot in the door to University. Many graduates do struggle to find full time work straight out of University will now be hit with their HECS debt far earlier then they would have previously, while they are trying to save for a house which is increasingly becoming out of reach for middle Australia.
There are some partisans that may argue against this op-ed and say that this is all about budget repair but this article is purely outlining how the budget will directly affect students.
Featured image from the AIMN Network