Concern over SCU student services after plan to axe fee

THE students' association and vice-chancellor at Southern Cross University have expressed concern about plans by the Abbott Government to axe compulsory fees that support student services.

Education minister Christopher Pyne this week announced plans to overhaul the university system by scrapping fees to support student services and reviewing caps on student numbers, which allow more people access to university education.

Lismore and External Students Association (LEXSA) president Ben Bullivant said abolishing compulsory fees that support student services would effectively end many student services programs at the university.

"Cutting compulsory funding would have a devastating effect on students at Southern Cross University," he said.

Mr Bullivant said compulsory fee-funded programs run in 2013 that would be affected included counselling, mental health, first aid courses, suicide prevention, social clubs, the women's collective and the mature-age network.

He said any cuts to caps on student numbers would sev- erely limit opportunities for students from low socio-economic backgrounds to get a university education.

SCU vice-chancellor Professor Peter Lee said university education was about both classroom education and student interaction in social groups, funded solely by the compulsory fees.

Prof Lee said without the facilities that were on the doorstep at city universities, cutting the fees would hit social groups and student services at SCU hard.

Prof Lee said as not one student had graduated since caps on student numbers were introduced, he thought it was too early to review the system.

The Regional Universities Network, chaired by Prof Lee, echoed the concerns of students at SCU.

"Facilities provided by universities are commonly used by regional communities more widely," Prof Lee said.



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