The National Union of Students has used its’ submission into the higher education amendment bill to call on all Parties to seriously reform Australia’s higher education sector:
“NUS doesn’t just want to oppose the proposed fee increases. Rather than continuing down this road, NUS calls on all parties to begin a process looking at new ways of financing higher education as we move from mass tertiary education system to a near-universal system based on multiple points of entry over a lifetime.” it urges.

The submission noted the rapidly changing labour-force and near-universality of post-high school education that has meant the sector desperately needs an overhaul.

“Modelling by CEDA forecasts that 40% of existing jobs (5 million) will be replaced by computers over the next 10-15 years. Even if this is only partly realised, Australia will need a massive retraining exercise so that current workers ready themselves for the jobs of tomorrow. Old human capital paradigms that a university degree will set you up for a life career in a chosen profession are looking increasingly redundant.” the submission states.

“Tertiary education participation is fast on track to becoming the norm for a majority of younger Australians. When HECS was first introduced only about 7% of Australians had a bachelor degree and around 35% completed year 12. If we include vocational education we find that amongst young people 44% of 25-34 year olds have participated in tertiary education.” it notes.

The Bill will increase fees for students by thousands, while funding will be cut by billions.

“However, there is no net gain in funding for the universities. The savings from these changes to student and government contribution rates fall entirely to the Commonwealth.” the submission noted.

“This budget is just one more nail in the coffin; the sector has been used as a piggy bank by successive governments with no real reform to address the rapidly changing demands of the labour-force.” said NUS President, Sophie Johnston, “We’re calling on all sides of politics to respond to this crisis and seriously reform the sector to reflect the needs of higher education in the 21st century.”

The submission took a holistic approach in urging the Senate committee to review the system.
Sophie Johnston National President | National Union of Students