The Government Is Backing Down On Some Of Their Higher Education Reforms

Easily the most contentious – and vehemently opposed – facets of the much maligned Federal Budget was the proposed sweeping reforms to Higher Education, which included proposals for fee deregulation, the cutting of federal funding, and the realignment of how HECS debt interest is accrued.

It, unsurprisingly, was a wildly unpopular reform proposal from the Abbott Government and sparked a swathe of protests in major cities across the country – all united under the common battle cry of “No cuts. No fees. No corporate Universities.”
As it turns out, the general public wasn’t the only place where the scheme was unpopular – the reforms, like many other areas of the (arguably needlessly) savage budget has not found the support it needs in the Senate in order to pass and become law.
Now, such is the level of stonewalling its faced in the Upper House, the Government appears willing to compromise on some of the more controversial areas of its reform policy.
Whilst outwardly – lead by Education Minister Christopher Pyne – they remain steadfastly committed to fee deregulation and shifting Universities into a free market environment, Fairfax Media is reporting that in order to gain the necessary support from the Senate’s rogue crossbenchers, they’ve put forth compromise proposals to delay, or potentially scrap, some areas of the reform, includeing the following:
  • Reducing the 20 percent course funding cut to 12 or 15 percent – meaning that University fees in a free market theoretically won’t have to be raised as high as previously thought to cover the absence of Federal funding.
  • Delaying the expansion of that Commonwealth funding to include Private Colleges (like oh, say… the Whitehouse Institute of Design *brow furrowing intensifies*) by three years – meaning colleges set up as private businesses with their own financial models won’t receive money from the Government to operate for a little while longer.
  • Abandoning the plan to realign student debts to the Government Bond rate – meaning HECS debt interest will remain connected to inflation as the current system dictates.
  • And funding a structural adjustment package to help Universities adjust to a free-market system – meaning schools will be put on training wheels to ease them into regular business practices, despite just about every Uni having a Commerce department filled with students who are being taught exactly that by people who know their shit.
In other news, Christopher Pyne tried to do that politician thing where he supports two people at odds simultaneously; defending Julie Bishop‘s leadership ambitions whilst outwardly supporting Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The resulting sentence?
I want her to be PM for 10 years, and after that people can worry about the next thing in 10 years.”

“You want her to be Prime Minister for 10 years??” pried everyone’s best mate Karl Stefanovic.
Yeah, Tony Abbott, I said,” replied Pyne.
So, y’know, that about sums up where their heads are at right now.
Photo: Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images.

via SMH.