Making your place at university contingent on whether you can pay thousands of dollars in university fees upfront is inaccessible and unfair. That is why UMSU is standing against the $2.2 billion cuts that the Government has made to higher education funding. This will disproportionately affect the accessibility of university for students from disadvantaged backgrounds including people from low socio-economic backgrounds, Indigenous students, and regional communities. The cuts have taken place in the form of a funding freeze, which will result in the defunding of 10,000 university places.

These cuts also open the door to a two-tiered higher education sector in Australia, similar to what currently exists in the United States. This is because smaller and regional universities who cannot attract full fee paying students to the same capacity as a bigger university like the University of Melbourne will also be most affected by the cuts.

At the same time, the proposed loan limit which caps the debt of individual students from tuition fees to $104,000, or $150,000 for science and medicine courses will disproportionately affect students at the University of Melbourne, as the Melbourne Model requires students to be able to enter graduate degrees after completing a broad undergraduate degree. For many, this loan limit would make postgraduate studies less accessible as more students may be forced to pay some of their degree upfront, or seek private loans to cover the gap.

The Government is also intent on lowering the HECS/HELP debt threshold from $55,000 to $45,000. This change signals the Government’s blatant disregard for young people and graduates, who are already struggling to find adequate employment and finding it harder to move out of home and buy a property than ever before.

UMSU opposes any cuts to higher education. When education funding is cut, students end up bearing the brunt of the burden. As such, we encourage all students to come join us at the National Student Day of Action, a protest organised by the National Union of Students, on March 21, 2pm at the State Library. When our education is under attack, we can take action together and let the government know that these cuts are the last thing that students need.

The UMSU contingent to the protest will start at the campus speak out at South Court at 12:30pm, and then we will head to the State Library together.

More protest details here:

Melbourne Uni speak out before protest:

Protest at State Library:

If you want to get involved in other education campaigns, feel free to get involved in the UMSU Education Department. Join the weekly Education collectives or Education Action Group.

Desiree Cai
UMSU President

Conor Clements
UMSU Education Public Department