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Uni students to protest education changes

Students from La Trobe University will join national protests against changes to higher education.

DARREN LINTON May 15, 2014 5:21am

La Trobe Student Union president Rose Steele said Tuesday’s federal budget measures heralded the end of the right to higher education for all.

Deregulated course fees means universities can charge what they like and from 2016 new students will have to pay a higher proportion of course costs.

Student loans will remain to fund up-front the cost of tertiary course.

But the Federal Government will charge higher interest of up to six per cent and graduates will also repay their HELP debts once they earn $50638, rather than $53345.

Fee and loan changes won’t apply to present students until the end of 2020.

‘‘The proposed changes will push students who already struggle to make ends meet into a lifetime of debt,’’ Ms Steel said.

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said new scholarships were designed to help more low socio-economic students make it to university.

‘‘Under the new higher education system we will also require that universities and other higher education providers spend $1 in every $5 of additional revenue raised on scholarships for disadvantaged students,’’ Mr Pyne said.

La Trobe University has a campus in Shepparton, but Ms Steele said regional students were already having to make choices about the affordability of moving away for university.

‘‘Regional students are already disadvantaged by the costs of relocating to study. The budget changes will only exacerbate the challenges of young people in rural and regional areas, further decreasing access,’’ she said.

La Trobe Student Union will join a national day of demonstrations on May 21.

National Union of Students president Deanna Taylor said the deregulation of fees would mean an entire generation of students presently moving through the high school system would be faced with new barriers to attending university, despite the government’s supposed commitment to equity.

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