Uni fee deregulation not dead: Labor

MELANIE WHITING

Labor MP's Jim Chalmers, Amanda Rishworth and Graham Perrett spoke with students at Griffith University on Wednesday. Source: Mitchell Watt

Labor MP’s Jim Chalmers (right), Amanda Rishworth (middle) and Graham Perrett (left)  spoke with students at Griffith University on Wednesday. Source: Mitchell Watt

Federal Labor MP Jim Chalmers has warned $100,000 degrees could still be a reality for Australian students.

Last week The Source News reported Education Minister Simon Birmingham had shelved plans to deregulate university fees.

While visiting students at Griffith University’s Nathan campus on Wednesday, Mr Chalmers said the Minister’s announcement was made because the reforms could not get through the Senate.

“It isn’t dead as a policy, it’s just sitting there waiting to be revived at the next opportunity they can get it through,” he said.

“So students and universities need some certainty and Simon Birmingham has not given any certainty, deregulation is still on the agenda.”

Last month Labor announced its higher education policy which outlined increased funding for universities and a focus on supporting kids from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Mr Chalmers said the government’s delaying of reforms will not impact Labor’s policy.

“Regardless of what the government does, chopping and changing on their side of things, we think we’ve got a really good comprehensive plan and we’re prepared to put that to the Australian people,” he said.

MP’s Jim Chalmers, Amanda Rishworth and Graham Perrett chatted with Griffith University student’s about their higher education policy. Source: Mitchell Watt

Shadow Assistant Minister for Higher Education Amanda Rishworth also spoke to Griffith University students on Wednesday. She said she’s concerned about Mr Birmingham’s plan to delay reforms until 2017.

“2017 isn’t that far off, universities are going to have to start setting their fees in January 2016, that’s only four months away,” she said.

“So students and universities need some certainty and Simon Birmingham has not given any certainty, deregulation is still on the agenda.”

Ms Rishworth says Universities Australia has welcomed Labor’s plan for university funding.

“We’ve said we’ll legislate for a funding guarantee per student amount, that will go up over time and that will give certainty to universities as well as students,” she said.

Mr Birmingham’s office did not provide a response to the comments and asked to reference Mr Birmingham’s speech.

Mr Birmingham said during his speech at the Times High Education World Academic Summit he will use the delay to explore ideas for reform.

“With this additional time, I will be consulting with the higher education sector, students, employers, my Senate colleagues, and other stakeholders on how we can best meet the challenges of finding a sustainable basis… to fund an adaptive and world-class higher education,” he said.

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