If you’re planning on going to University anytime soon, things are set to become a lot trickier. In what will be the biggest reforms to Higher Education since the Hawke Government introduced the HECS scheme in 1989, Education Minister and noted-weasel resembler Christopher Pyne has today strongly backed plans for the Abbott Government to deregulate University fees, effectively letting schools compete against each other in pricing.
The reforms, which will be detailed and formally announced in the upcoming Federal Budget, will do away with Australia’s current tiered system of tertiary fees, which groups undergraduate degrees into fee brackets based on projected income upon graduation.
Pyne did, however, strongly back the HECS system in Australia, stating that it is important for students to be able to attend University “without them having to pay a dollar up-front.”
Effectively this means that Higher Education becomes a marketplace, and moves closer towards the US system of college and university education. With schools able to set their own price points, the more prestigious schools such as the University of Melbourne or ANU to charge much more, given the prestige the name carries; not at all dissimilar to Ivy League schools in the US like Harvard or Yale.
The reforms were strongly recommended by last week’s enormous Commission of Audit report (which, by the way, was put together at $1million over budget) that also recommended the lowering of the income threshold for HECS repayments to $32,000 – a level not seen since well before 2005.
The changes to University funding were the subject at the core of Monday’s student hijacking of a live Q&A broadcast on the ABC, on which Christopher Pyne was a panellist.
The one thing we know for absolute certain is that University in Australia is set to become much more expensive in a big hurry, as Universities move to a more corporate financial structure to ensure their survival and prosperity.
And, just for the record, the amount that Christopher Pyne paid to obtain his Bachelor of Laws from the University of Adelaide? $0.
Photo: Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images.