Australasian Union of Jewish Students

The Budget 2014

The Budget 2014

Hear what Jewish students from around Australia think of the 2014 budget.

By Aujs / May 22, 2014

Tags / auspol

Allan Vaksman - Student at RMIT 

Australia is a land of privilege; our poor have more access to health, welfare and aid programs then the majority of the world. Our wages and standard of living are the envy of the world.

The youth of today and are deluded in thinking that our incredible university system and programs such as Medicare are a right not a privilege. These by no means are our rights, they’re not entrenched anywhere in our constitution and the government has the right to take it away.

The complaints that many have about the $7 doctors fee are not unfounded as many who support the budget would say. The duty of every Australian is to pay their part for the public health system which will be increasingly pressured with a fast rising aging population but a system of subsidisation could be developed as a solution for low income earners and age pensioners so they’re still paying their part but not dramatically increasing the strain on the family budget.

The deregulation of university fees has led the public to believe straight away all universities will triple their prices. This may be the fact in some cases but with deregulation comes the encouragement of competition. Whilst initially the price of university fees may spike, intense competition between the many universities with in Australia will see not only fees be lowered but a rise in the quality of not only education other areas such as sports and arts will also be improved to attract university students. The Australian government is still supporting university students through the Hecs debt loans they provide Australian students a program that is again the envy of many students in Western countries such as America.

Shmuli Levin - Student at Monash Univertiy

Much has been said about the new Medicare reforms hitting harder as you get sicker and poorer. While the budget reforms on education include some positive measures such as the introduction of HECS for degrees of shorter length, unfortunately, the bulk of the proposed reforms will hit hardest the poorest elements of our society. Yes, the budget ensures that there will be differences in fees paid between rich and poor. Except that this time, it’s the rich who will be paying the least and the poor who will be paying the most.

The introduction of interest on loans will mean that if your starting salary is $75,000, your average interest payment will be about $5,300. On the other hand, if you earn only $50,000, your interest goes up to $13,900. Find yourself out of work and have a hard time getting a job – Your interest goes up again. Are you a woman thinking of taking a year off to have a child – you pay 20% more on your interest. (To be fair, this may be obviated by a paid parental leave scheme, although here too the remedial effect would be inversely proportional to your needs). Sounds equitable, doesn’t it?

The budget alleges to address this by offering a brand new scholarship scheme. But this too seems to be fundamentally flawed. Scholarships are awarded based on income levels when you enter university. This means that if you come from a low socio-economic background, you won’t have to pay no matter how much you earn down the track. On the other hand, if you come from a middle-class background but end up with a low paying job for the rest of your life, you will pay more interest than high-salary earners. University fees aren’t paid until you begin earning, and therefore scholarships don’t make the system any fairer.

If the government wants to increase student contributions, so be it. If the education minister chooses to declare that university degrees are not a return investment for the taxpayer, so be it. But interest on loans means that the poorest will be paying the most for their education. You really don’t need to belong to the Socialist Alternative to understand that this is wrong.

Declan Kelly - Student at the University of New South Wales 

"The oft repeated phrase 'you can be whatever you want to be' was something I grew up with. We heard it at school, from our parents and even in the movies. I never passionately wanted to be anything, As a young child in a small coastal town, I found myself far more distracted by my immediate surrounding than by the intangible future. 


Primary school came and went. But come the later years of high school I was faced with daunting prospect of actually having to take my future into my own hands. The choice I faced was difficult, where to go? What to study? Money wasn't one of them. I decided to study Engineering at UNSW.


But what happens if that mentality changes? I have a younger sister, not far from the age where she must also make serious decisions about her future. What if instead of choosing the best university she can get into, she has to settle for the most affordable?

Some commentators have argued that the upfront cost hasn't changed, leaving higher education open to all. But what about the risk? I was always sure that if engineering was not what I wanted to be, I could change. If you take that luxury away by not only increasing the fees, but also by increasing the rate that interest is accrued, we might not be telling our sisters or brothers or children the choice is theirs. We might be telling our children from an early age to aim for university X, to replace their aspirations with limitations. Worse of all, we will have to explain why a lack of wealth is imposing these limitations.

Elenore Levi - Student at the University of Sydney

The recent Budget is of great concern to several groups in Australian society, including those currently undertaking or planning to undertake tertiary studies - i.e. our generation. 
From 2016, a tertiary institution will be able to charge students whatever it desires for university courses, subject only to the limitation that they cannot charge a domestic student more than an international student. This is not a limitation that will protect us from exorbitant fees as presently international students pay on average 3-4 times more than domestic students. Universities could charge domestic students double, triple or even quadruple what we pay now for the same courses. This will make tertiary education unfeasible for many, both those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those looking to have a future free from extortionate HECS debts.
Putting control over fees in the hands of the universities will also have ramifications for the quality of education. In recent years, most universities have become increasingly profit-driven, focused more on churning out tens of thousands of graduates and collecting fees therefrom rather than the quality of education. Handing power over fees to the universities will contribute to this problem. Universities will cut costs wherever possible from education resources to maintain a competitive market position and achieve a substantial profit, while charging high fees to students. We will see the continued casualisation of the workforce at Australian universities, which will bring a reduction in the quality, motivation and experience of tertiary educators. This will no doubt have concerning impacts on the quality of education we can expect to receive in our tertiary institutions. 
Joe Hockey has said that our generation should either "earn or learn" - i.e. if we aren't working, we should be studying, and vice versa. Sounds simple enough - except that the more we study, the larger our HECS debt becomes. While we pay that off once we start full-time employment, it reduces our generation's chances of accumulating savings to purchase larger assets, such as a house. The deregulation of university fees will contribute to our generation's mounting personal debt, and the reality is that for many of us this sizeable debt will affect our chance to get the financial start in life previous generations had. This is what happens when politicians, who received a free tertiary education and don't face the financial and employment crises facing our generation, are making decisions that directly affect our future. The deregulation of university fees is of great concern to our generation.

 

 

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