The National Union of Students has strongly opposed the Government’s incoherent higher education package proposed in this year’s budget.

“It seems Birmingham has very little understanding of the sector; presenting a package that compromises high quality education and adds a student tax when young Australians are already doing it tough” said NUS President, Sophie Johnston.

The Minister for Education today reaffirmed intentions to eat away at the sector in a speech to Vice-Chancellors that was a likely final push as the Bill could be voted on next week.

“The Higher Education sector desperately needs considered, targeted and well-funded reform to meet the demands of a changing workforce,” Ms said Johnston. “But all this government seems interested in is ripping funding out of one of the economies biggest assets for a short-term political win.”

“NUS has called for a serious review into how the sector is financed as we move from mass-tertiary education to near universal. ABS data found that in the next 10-15 years, 40% of current jobs will no longer exist. The rapid changes to the labour-force and increase in automation means Australia will desperately rely on a well-funded, high quality education sector and it is up to our government to deliver this.”

Earlier this week, reports that Birmingham could use twisted tactics to meet his savings target. Cutting HEPPP and limiting the demand driven system are amongst the alleged methods that wouldn’t require Senate approval.

“It’s clear that higher education is nothing more than a political point scoring match for this government. Instead of listening to the advice coming out of the senate hearing, instead of hearing professionals in the sector urging the government away from these dangerous reforms; they’ve turned around and decided they’ll use dodgy tactics to get whatever through in whatever form. It’s desperate and it’s tactless.” Said Johnston.

NUS has long fought for greater funding to the sector because we know that any cuts will hurt students. Ripping funding from the sector impacts on the quality of education we receive, contributes to increases in class sizes and inadequate support services and facilities. All of these things deeply impact on students.

We’ve said from the beginning, we defeated the government’s horrendous deregulation plans in 2014, and we’ll defeat them in 2017. Students have already mobilised across the country in thousands when this package was first introduced and we will continue to fight. NUS will be working with Labor, the Greens and the cross-bench to see these reforms never see the light of day, regardless of what dodgy way Birmingham tries to get them through.
Sophie Johnston National President | National Union of Students