Bury The Bill

UMSU Stands with CAPA and NUS in Bury the Bill Campaign

The National Union of Students (NUS) and the Council of Postgraduate Students (CAPA) recently launched their Bury the Bill campaign to fight proposed changes to student loan legislation.

The Bury the Bill campaign encourages students, graduates and future students to contact their Senators and highlight the consequences of this legislation, which will compromise access to higher education in Australia. UMSU supports this campaign wholeheartedly and encourages all to get involved.

The proposed Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment (Student Loan Sustainability) Bill 2018 would see the HECS/HELP repayment threshold for student debt lowered from the current $54,000 to $45,000. This disproportionately impacts low income earners, especially women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates. The legislation also includes the creation of a lifetime student loan cap of $104k.

The lifetime loan cap particularly affects University of Melbourne students, as the Melbourne Model presumes that students do a broad undergraduate degree with the expectation to continue their studies in postgrad. In many cases, the cost of a postgraduate degree, in addition to a previously completed undergrad would exceed the proposed loan cap. This opens up the door for students having to pay up front or take out a separate personal loan to complete their university degrees, severely limiting accessibility for students wanting to gain further qualifications.

NUS and CAPA have spoken out against the bill.

Natasha Abrahams, CAPA National President says:

“We need to fight to retain the HECS-HELP system that enables more Australians to access a university education and the opportunities that come from this. Under the proposed changes, highly regarded degrees which lead to lucrative careers will only be accessible to those who can afford colossal upfront payments.”

Mark Pace, NUS National President says:

“Simon Birmingham, the Scrooge of Australian Parliament, gifted universities with $2.2 Bn in cuts last December. Now he’s seeking further budget repairs from those barely earning above minimum wage.”

“The number of graduates earning below the current repayment threshold reflects a failure of this government in providing a quality education. The solution is to adequately fund universities, not burden low income Australians with this Governments failures in higher education”.

It is unacceptable that these proposed changes unfairly target those who are most disadvantaged and already have the hardest time accessing university education. I urge all students to get involved in the campaign, sign the #BuryTheBill petition and contact a crossbench Senator.

Desiree Cai
UMSU President

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