VIDEO: ALP fired up over university HECS changes

SARAH Swann doesn't want to see her HECS debt grow any more.

But the Rockhampton student was philosophical about the proposed changes to university funding released as part of this year's Federal Budget.

The Bully spoke to her yesterday as a political war of words erupted over the Federal Opposition claim that CQUniversity would lose more than $57 million and students would incur more debt as a result of the government's intended changes.

"As much as I don't like the changes and they're going to cost me more, I realise it's a necessary evil," Sarah said.

"Someone has to pay more back or else nothing's ever going to change."

Shadow Minister for Vocational Education Sharon Bird and Labor Senator Chris Ketter were in Rockhampton yesterday as they campaigned against the budget measures.

Ms Bird said National Tertiary Education Union figures showed CQUniversity would lose $57 million over the 2016-2019 funding round.

She said deregulation of university fees meant students would be charged more for their degrees.

SPEAKING OUT: Labor MP Sharon Bird, at CQUniversity, criticises moves to deregulate university fees and introduce interest rates on HECS debts.
SPEAKING OUT: Labor MP Sharon Bird, at CQUniversity, criticises moves to deregulate university fees and introduce interest rates on HECS debts. Chris Ison

Ms Bird also criticised the introduction of interest rates on HECS debts.

She said the move meant student debt would accumulate while women took maternity leave or while graduates searched for a job.

"We don't want people deciding they can't go to university because they can't afford it," she said.

"People should be at university because they've got the ability and they've got the interest and they're keen to do those studies.

"It's an investment, not a cost for the nation."

Senator Chris Ketter said Labor wanted to educate students about the "triple whammy" of funding changes.

Mr Ketter gave the example of a woman with a Bachelor of Science who would have to pay back about $178,000 over two decades.

"Women are disproportionately affected by these changes," he said.

"If you take time out to have a family then that impacts on your ability to earn and whilst you're off work without being paid, your debt is accumulating.

"It's a daunting prospect."

Jeannie Rea, national president of the National Tertiary Education Union, also spoke about the impact of the budget measures at CQUniversity in two forums yesterday.

Topics:  cquniversity hecs

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