Student groups nation-wide registered their opposition to the government’s proposals to raise student fees and lower the HECS threshold at an action in Canberra on budget day on May 9.
The $2.8 billion in cuts would see fees increase by a maximum of $3600 for a four-year course with students paying for 46% of the cost of their degree on average — up from 42%. The cuts propose a lowering of the HECS threshold — down from $55,874 to $42,000.
The action was initiated by Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA) Education Action Group, and endorsed by SUPRA, the National Union of Students and the University of Sydney Student Representative Council (SRC).
SUPRA Education Officer Rachel Evans said: “The government wants to further impoverish young people and shift the cost of education onto working people. When over 600 filthy rich companies pay no tax, and the government just reduced the parity company tax rate, they’re insulting our intelligence. We will fight this all the way.”
SUPRA co-president Lil Matchett said: “These fee hikes will lock more people out of accessible tertiary education. We defeated fee deregulation in 2014, let’s defeat this latest round of attacks on students and win free education.
“We need to also protest the fact New Zealanders and permanent residents will now have to pay all their fees up-front.”
Students joined in with various unions including the Maritime Union of Australia, the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union and the National Tertiary Education Union who were holding their own protests outside Parliament.
The unions all supported the students in their fight, calling the attacks class-based, retrograde and repressive and vowing to stand behind students in the fight.
Vanamali Hermans from the Australian National University said the National Union of Students will be holding talks and protests in response to the budget announcements.
The Sydney contingent of a National Day of Action will meet on Wednesday May 17 at 12pm outside Fisher Library.