The Truth about HECS

Given that I went to university in the halcyon days when it was prioritized by government, I hate to see the path it’s gone down since. So I was interested to read Dick Gunstone, Professor of Science and Technology Education at Monash University systematically dismantle Peter Costello’s recent declaration that:

“Well let me put it this way. I’m sure if you are a student and
you’re looking at that fee, it looks like a big fee. But what I
would say to you is that it is interest-free and it’s only payable
once you get back into the work force.

“And if you compare this system with other systems around the
world, it’s a much more generous system.

In a detailed examination of systems across the world, Gunstone concludes:

The Treasurer’s two one-liners are clearly wrong, and not
even in the same ballpark as the facts.

One hundred thousand dollars a year to go to university in the
US? It is not even 10 per cent of that at the most expensive public
universities. Even in private institutions, such as Stanford and
Harvard, tuition fees are far far less, including for high-cost
postgraduate programs.

Is HECS a “much more generous system” than anywhere else?
Hardly. Only in Britain and the US will you find higher tuition
costs for students, and then only for some courses and at some
universities – and with much more generous possibilities in both
countries for students to obtain direct grants and loans to defray
their costs.

Given the Treasurer’s well-deserved reputation for delivering
good one-liners, here are a couple relating to universities he
might like to use instead of the two from December:

· OECD reports show that the average change in public
university funding across the OECD for the last decade is a 48 per
cent increase; in Australia it is a seven per cent decrease.

· In 2006, the Australian public university system received
just over 40 per cent of its recurrent funds from government. This
is the lowest figure for any public university system in the
world.

The full article is online at the AGE HERE

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