LETTER: MP pays off HECS debt, calls for free tertiary education
TODAY I officially paid off my HECS debt and it's a pretty awesome feeling! I was encouraged to go to university by my parents, school teachers and family. I was the first in my family to complete a bachelor degree.
I believe that free tertiary education should be a right in this country, not a privilege.
We know that the benefits of education, for an individual, for their family and for an entire country's economy, are broad and far reaching. Education has the potential to bring significant benefits to individuals and society, which go well beyond its contribution to an individual's employability or income.
But higher education is expensive and it takes many years for students to repay education loans. In fact some loans are never fully repaid.
In April 2016, Australian students owed $1.7 billion in education loans. Young Australians are swamped in debt because education is so expensive.
It's more bad news with the Parliamentary Budget Office predicting that student fees will soar by 40 per cent as universities recover costs following the Turnbull Government's planned 20 per cent government funding cut.
More Australians could reap the benefit of education if it was more affordable. I'm one of the lucky ones that had the chance to go to university but there are many Australians who miss out. We know that cost is a pervasive barrier to education in poor households so when education is not affordable, the poorest in our community miss out.
I joined the Labor party whilst I was studying at university because students then were faced with 25% increases to fees and cuts to university funding.
I will always stand up and fight for free education because education has the power to change a life, a society and a country's economy.