Southern Cross University graduations, Saturday March 25, 2017.
Southern Cross University graduations, Saturday March 25, 2017. Alina Rylko

He said, she said: Two opinions on university fees

TWO journalists from The Northern Star share their thoughts on changes to university fees and HECS debt repayment.

MORE: Student fees rise by degrees

Samantha Poate, Journalist 

AS a new graduate, what stresses me the most about the proposed changes to HECS debt is the fact that I am expected to start paying immediately on a graduate salary.

In my first full time job, now paying rent and bills I am concerned that my HECS debt repayments will take away from my ability to afford basic living requirements.

I understand it is a loan and of course we all need to pay back the government on their investment in our higher education.

However, by lowering the threshold of annual earnings from $55,869 to $42,000 it makes it even more difficult for individuals to afford to pay back their massive university debts and still have a steady income to afford to live in the 21st century.

It's a massive $13,000 drop and on top of that students can also expect an increase in the overall cost of their degree of approximately $3600 per student.

I think it is a bit unrealistic for the government to expect new graduates to pay back these fees if the salary in graduate positions cannot reflect the increase of the cost to complete a degree.

It comes down to if people cannot afford to even live comfortably with the ever-rising cost of daily expenses, what's to encourage them to invest in their higher education.

David Kirkpatrick, Editor

I FEEL incredibly lucky to have finished my university degree a year before the Higher Education Contribution Scheme was introduced.

Free university education came in during the Whitlam years and this bold move fundamentally changed Australian society forever.

It levelled the playing field when it came to higher education.

Suddenly, a whole generation of Australians who couldn't previously afford to go to university, had access to higher education.

I know students still don't have to pay much up front to complete their uni degrees, but they are certainly being slugged at the other end when they do get a job.

Uni students are a soft target because many in society see them as privileged in the first place.

But if Australia is to become the 'knowledge nation' it often proclaims it wants to be, then it doesn't make much sense making it harder to go to university, not easier.

For the government, it's all about making savings without hurting its voter base.

After all, if we dropped the submarine replacement program from the Defence budget, I reckon we could have a pretty whizz bang higher education sector.

Higher education has become a major export industry for Australia. I've heard figures of $22 billion being bandied around and I am sure that stacks up with many other industries being subsidised by the government in some way, shape or form.

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